September 25th, 2011
08:11 PM ET

N.J. church reverses money flow, collection plate holds cash for congregants

From Rachel Garrett, CNN

(CNN) - A New Jersey church - already a bit different in that its three congregations gather weekly at two hotels and a middle school - put a new spin on the collection plate Sunday by having congregants take cash-filled envelopes from the plate in hopes that the money will be put to charitable use.

"People are cynical about religion and expect to come to church and be shaken down, but really, it's all God's money," Liquid Church pastor Tim Lucas said prior to Sunday services. "Every bill in the U.S. economy says 'In God we trust,' and we're going to put that to the test."

The Morristown, New Jersey-based nondenominational Christian church claims to collect $30,000 in weekly offerings from its three congregations, which gather at hotel facilities in Morristown and New Brunswick, and at a middle school in Nutley. The 10-year-old church, which says in its materials that more than 2,000 people attend its weekend services, planned to disperse that same amount - $30,000 - on Sunday, with congregants getting envelopes containing $10, $20 and $50 bills.

The goal, said Lucas, is for people to invest or use the money to help others, including those struggling to recover from recent massive flooding in New Jersey. He said he hopes others will invest their funds, nurture the investment for growth, and then donate the proceeds to the church to rebuild a homeless shelter.

Lucas, along with the pastors at the New Brunswick and Nutley branches of Liquid Church, is putting his money where his mouth is, so to speak, with this project.

"We're not a rich church. We don't own a building. We don't hold a mortgage, but we're trying to teach our people to be rich in good deeds," says Lucas, who founded the church and took its name from the church motto: "Jesus calls himself the living water, and we think church should be refreshing."

Executive Pastor Dave Brooks told CNN that the effort was aimed at impacting "our communities. Our emphasis is here in New Jersey, with hopes we can impact those who were affected by the floods of (Hurricane) Irene."

Beyond flood victims, Brooks said, there are people who simply need help.

"A lot of people are really suffering financially these days and looking for the government for a way out. We feel God can provide help for people," said Brooks. "We encourage people to work from the standpoint of generosity. Many people say 'In God we trust.' If you turn that around, God trusts you. We give money that God entrusted to us."

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Christianity • Church • Money & Faith

soundoff (198 Responses)
  1. Frankly

    God loves those who don't believe in him too

    September 27, 2011 at 8:50 am |
  2. doctore0

    Gawd is money

    September 27, 2011 at 5:10 am |

    ban religion

    all of it

    and take christ out of christmas its ruining christmas

    the religious steal more money than they donate to charity

    tax free eurotrash yeah catholics run in the red cuz their sheep are dead walking

    ever been to mass

    i have and its dead in there why would anyone want to sit through that its so boring and dry and meaningless

    just like all religions

    stop being sheep

    ban churches and mosques and all religion

    want to donate money

    then help someone out

    you dont need a fake god to justify your guilt for never lifting a finger to help anyone

    you all go to church out of guilt

    because youre all dead inside

    September 26, 2011 at 11:52 pm |
  4. Al Anon

    Not all religion is a scam, but you won't find true religion if you're not looking for it.

    Enemies will never be able to stamp it out, no matter how hard they try.

    September 26, 2011 at 7:42 pm |
    • Kyle

      You're right. Other religions will just come along and borrow from the old useless religions like islam and christianity, and then new religions will take their places. People are THAT stupid.

      September 26, 2011 at 11:31 pm |

      no its all a scam

      September 26, 2011 at 11:53 pm |
  5. mag

    i can tell you that there is no way that money is going to charity. That money is going into their pockets.

    September 26, 2011 at 4:58 pm |
  6. Anti-theist

    The Christian Church as been fleecing their flocks for thousands of years. That's why the media were so shocked when a pastor offers to give some of it back to parishioners. Front page headlines and lede news stories. This is certainly a novel phenomenon that will soon pass.

    P.S. Sure, it's all God's money until you go to withdraw some of it from the bank and you find out your imaginary friend doesn't have an account there.

    September 26, 2011 at 4:46 pm |
    • Tcat

      That's not true. My church has done this several times. No news media at all. There are millions of churches in American. 99% follow the bibles teachings and truly do God's work in helping others and their community. It's the 1% you see on tv that do "shakedowns" that give the other 99% a bad rap.

      September 26, 2011 at 11:55 pm |
  7. Hone$t John

    If any other organizations feel the need to do this, please let me know when and where so I can help as many people as I can 🙂

    September 26, 2011 at 4:18 pm |
  8. umm...

    i have been reading through these and i have seen many times "the catholic church has no money" or "they catholic churches usually run in the red"...umm excuse me but where are you getting your facts from??? i work at a bank and am currently there right now and let me tell you how many churches we have accounts with that are struggling...ZERO! i can see multple MILLION dollar churches, yes i said million dollars...please can someone tell me why a non-profit organization needs 1 million dollars on tap, that disgusts me to think of how many people could be helped with that money yet almost all of it is in investments like CD's. who needs a house of worship any way? even tho im agnostic i still think if you have figured out what god you believe in then why cant he love you just the same at your house or one built for him down the street. All charity money should skip straight over the church and go directly to the starving hands that need it, cut out the middle man...there is my 2 cents, keep the change.

    September 26, 2011 at 3:42 pm |
    • Nonimus

      Doesn't your bank have rules against looking up people's accounts without a business reason to do so. I know I don't like the idea of bank employees rummaging through my records on a whim to see what I'm up to.

      Or are you just fibbing about your job?

      September 26, 2011 at 5:36 pm |
    • Ed

      I worked for a bank for 8 years and yes they have rules against this behavior. I fthis commentors gets caught they will likely need some of that charity they mentioned

      September 26, 2011 at 6:03 pm |
    • noll

      Yeah, right, Ed, you swept a lot of floors there.

      September 26, 2011 at 6:09 pm |

    Overall i despise religion, it people and believe churches are a scam. I have many personal reasons for this not into argueing about why... However, I think what they are trying to do is actually a good idea and I think it is fair to give credit where credit is due. I hope the congregation does do something positive with that money and the community benefits.

    September 26, 2011 at 1:29 pm |
  10. Hasa Diga Eebowai

    Sometimes you have to spend money to make money.

    September 26, 2011 at 1:18 pm |
  11. hippypoet

    hmmm, what, no answers...maybe you should go learn about the religion to which holds you a slave by your ignoance! moron!

    September 26, 2011 at 12:24 pm |
  12. boogietime

    Is bribery legal?

    September 26, 2011 at 11:46 am |
    • Normon

      Not with public officials or in cases where equality of some sort is protected by law as in Equal Employment Opportunity or Equal Housing laws, but in general what might be considered bribery is just business, i.e. making a better offer.
      You may be referring to hired believers... hmmm, may be a business there. believers-for-hire, similar to the audiences for infomercials.

      September 26, 2011 at 12:02 pm |
  13. Dave836

    I just love how people complain about churches having so much money then, when one church decides to give some money back, it's all of the sudden a bribe. You people are extremely annoying...

    September 26, 2011 at 11:46 am |
    • some jane

      Atheists will be like that. Surprising for people that don't believe in anything why they spend so much time on religion.

      September 26, 2011 at 11:55 am |
    • Normon

      Surprising how some believers spend so much time on work and reality and not praying. I always heard, "God will provide."

      September 26, 2011 at 12:05 pm |
    • Chuckles


      If it walks like a duck.......

      September 26, 2011 at 12:05 pm |
    • Kyle

      Not all of us think of it as a bribe. Some of us see it as a nice charitable thing to do. Others might think of it as a PR stunt. Everyone has an opinion.

      September 26, 2011 at 11:38 pm |
  14. Johnny 5

    "It's all Gods money" um what?

    September 26, 2011 at 11:26 am |
    • mag

      Hey, it costs alot of money running the universe. Stars, Galaxies, Black Holes, etc. Who do you think pays for these things to operate?

      September 26, 2011 at 5:08 pm |
    • Nonimus

      The gravity bill alone from Universal Gravity, Energy, and Matter (UGE&M) alone must huge.

      September 26, 2011 at 5:41 pm |
  15. Jimmy

    And here I thought wars were fought for land and over money.... guess I missed the religous connection. Wake up people just because most people are religous doesnt mean that wars are because of religion just like wars are not because of dentists just because most people go to a dentist. Stop blameing religion and George Bush for everthing! Wake up!

    September 26, 2011 at 11:23 am |
    • Nonimus

      Odd, then why don't we have something called "Battle Dental Song of the Republic" or mottoes like "For Dentist and Country" or a quick flossing before the big game or entire book dedicated to proving rationale behind an "Hygienic war."

      Religion purports to be a code of morality, a way of living life, and proper behavior needed to please God. Dentistry keeps your teeth clean. See the difference?

      September 26, 2011 at 5:48 pm |
    • Kyle


      September 26, 2011 at 11:40 pm |
  16. Hmm

    Funny hippypoet requests that I shut up and go away from a blog that exists because of religion, yet he of such great knowledge on issues of religion, belief, and atheism has resulted to first-grade insults. If that is the best you have, then by all means, let readers of the blog decide for themselves who makes the more convincing argument. As to your question, I will answer it despite your childish antics, there are three definitions of religion listed in almost every dictionary. As for atheism, there are two definitions listed in most dictionaries; neither is a rejection of a belief systems, both are a rejection of God or a supreme-being. There – I have done your research for you, so now you can continue with your insults and other unproductive diatribes.

    September 26, 2011 at 11:21 am |
    • hippypoet

      why did your god ask abraham to kill his son?
      why did your god create man twice in the bible?
      why did your god tell adam and eve not to eat of the tree of knowledge?

      answers these please then we can have a nice alittle chat.. and you don't do my research for me, you did it for yourself.

      September 26, 2011 at 11:38 am |
    • Nonimus

      Not aware of your entire argument with @hippypoet, but the definitions I'm seeing involve one version as a disbelief in god/deity/etc. and are as follows:

      "a·the·ism   [ey-thee-iz-uhm] Show IPA
      1. the doctrine or belief that there is no God.
      2. disbelief in the existence of a supreme being or beings."

      "Definition of ATHEISM

      1 archaic : ungodliness, wickedness
      a : a disbelief in the existence of deity
      b : the doctrine that there is no deity"

      September 26, 2011 at 11:50 am |
    • Chuckles

      And why exactly have you ignored just about every point I've made? Maybe because it's incredibly damaging to your point and you would rather ignore it and play the victim of being insulted.

      September 26, 2011 at 11:57 am |
  17. Athelda Ensley

    It's not PC, and no one's saying it. One way to pull ourselves out of debt is to look at a specific part of the tax code. Non-profits (i.e. churches) that make profits need to contribute through taxes. Even if it's just a percentage, it could help greatly. This church certainly has the right idea about helping.


    September 26, 2011 at 11:10 am |
  18. ματηετεσ

    Logic – how much of our life is illogical?
    Getting on an airplane defies logic.
    How do you define imperfect?

    September 26, 2011 at 11:10 am |
    • Bobs your uncle

      how does getting on an airplane defy logic? I have to get from point A to point B, which are not close together...sooo, airplane. QED

      September 26, 2011 at 11:37 am |
    • thinker

      How does getting on a plane defy logic? The physics and engineering principles of flight are clearly understood. Yes, there is risk, but if getting on a plane is not logical, then driving, climbing stairs, or mowing the lawn are also not logical.

      September 26, 2011 at 11:38 am |
  19. Reality

    For those with reverse donation money, please send your contribution to the USA. We just happen to be $14 trillion in debt.

    Here is the address:

    Gifts to the United States
    U.S. Department of the Treasury
    Credit Accounting Branch
    3700 East-West Highway, Room 622D
    Hyattsville, MD 20782

    September 26, 2011 at 11:08 am |
    • Bobs your uncle

      No thanks. I donate money to them every time I get paid.

      They go and waste it.

      September 26, 2011 at 11:38 am |
    • Irish Girl

      WOW....I'm shocked at how many people miss the whole point so they can stand up on their Soap Box! Who cares whether or not YOU believe in God ? The point of this is that a group of people have been given money to go out and DO SOMETHING TO HELP OTHERS. How can this possibly be bad – even if you are an athiest?

      September 26, 2011 at 12:09 pm |
    • mag

      @Irish Girl. Because no matter how you look at it, that money will be used to be weed or alcohol. I dont care if you think i am the most cynical person in the world. That money will be used for things other than to help others.

      September 26, 2011 at 5:00 pm |
    • gma


      It's not becoz that you're a miserable and useless alcoholic and solvent boy, it means that all people are the same.

      September 27, 2011 at 8:54 am |
  20. Frank

    ...and that my friends is the truth behind every single religion, be it catholic, jews, pentecostals, they all want your money is all money based, catholics have to give to the church in order to be saved, and jews have to give to their synagogues in order to have a vote in the daily affairs of it, mean while the rabbi is pocketing 250,000 a year and living expenses free. All a mockery on the human race. Wake up and realize that there is one GOD and that is you, you don't need to go to church or give your possessions away to be saved as long as you realize this and act always doing the higher choice. Every single war in human history has been because of religion, including our current war on terror. Billions have die in the name of religion yet all Gods from all religions stay quiet and don't say anything about this.

    September 26, 2011 at 10:49 am |
    • neoritter

      Do you know nothing? You don't have to give anything to the Church. And in the case of the Catholic Church, they usually run in the red. With most of the profits and major influx of money coming from tourism, not the congregants.

      Have fun with your weak argument now.

      September 26, 2011 at 11:07 am |
    • J.W

      I do not know about rabbis, but very few priests or pastors make a lot of money.

      September 26, 2011 at 11:09 am |
    • Reality

      The Twenty (or so) Worst Things People Have Done to Each Other:
      From M. White, http://necrometrics.com/warstatz.htm#u (required reading)

      The Muslim Conquest of India

      "The likely death toll is somewhere between 2 million and 80 million. The geometric mean of those two limits is 12.7 million. "

      Rank …..Death Toll ..Cause …..Centuries……..Religions/Groups involved*

      1. 63 million Second World War 20C (Christians et al and Communists/atheists vs. Christians et al, Nazi-Pagan and "Shintoists")

      2. 40 million Mao Zedong (mostly famine) 20C (Communism)

      3. 40 million Genghis Khan 13C (Shamanism or Tengriism)

      4. 27 million British India (mostly famine) 19C (Anglican)

      5. 25 million Fall of the Ming Dynasty 17C (Buddhism, Taoism, Confucianism, Chinese folk religion)

      6. 20 million Taiping Rebellion 19C ( Confucianism, Buddhism and Chinese folk religion vs. a form of Christianity)

      7. 20 million Joseph Stalin 20C (Communism)

      8. 19 million Mideast Slave Trade 7C-19C (Islam)

      9. 17 million Timur Lenk 14C-15C

      10. 16 million Atlantic Slave Trade 15C-19C (Christianity)

      11. 15 million First World War 20C (Christians vs. Christians)

      12. 15 million Conquest of the Americas 15C-19C (Christians vs. Pagans)

      13. 13 million Muslim Conquest of India 11C-18C

      14. 10 million An Lushan Revolt 8C

      15. 10 million Xin Dynasty 1C

      16. 9 million Russian Civil War 20C (Christians vs Communists)

      17. 8 million Fall of Rome 5C (Pagans vs. Pagans)

      18. 8 million Congo Free State 19C-20C (Christians)

      19. 7½ million Thirty Years War 17C (Christians vs Christians)

      20. 7½ million Fall of the Yuan Dynasty 14C

      *:" Is religion responsible for more violent deaths than any other cause?

      A: No, of course not – unless you define religion so broadly as to be meaningless. Just take the four deadliest events of the 20th Century – Two World Wars, Red China and the Soviet Union – no religious motivation there, unless you consider every belief system to be a religion."

      Q: So, what you're saying is that religion has never killed anyone.

      A: Arrgh... You all-or-nothing people drive me crazy. There are many doc-umented examples where members of one religion try to exterminate the members of another religion. Causation is always complex, but if the only difference between two warring groups is religion, then that certainly sounds like a religious conflict to me. Is it the number one cause of mass homicide in human history? No. Of the 22 worst episodes of mass killing, maybe four were primarily religious. Is that a lot? Well, it's more than the number of wars fought over soccer, or s-ex (The Trojan and Sabine Wars don't even make the list.), but less than the number fought over land, money, glory or prestige.

      In my Index, I list 41 religious conflicts compared with 27 oppressions under "Communism", 24 under Colonialism, 2 under "Railroads" and 2 under "Scapegoats". Make of that what you will."

      September 26, 2011 at 11:12 am |
    • Jackson

      Frank, if I'm my own god then why should I consider anything that you are telling me to do (i.e., I don't need to go to church to be saved, I should take the "higher" road–whatever that is)? It's exactly this kind of thinking, that each person is their own supreme end, that I think gets the world in a lot of trouble–not an article about a church trying to help out its congregants with a little money. I agree with neoritter, not only are your arguments weak–they're irresponsible social policy.

      September 26, 2011 at 11:15 am |
    • Chuckles


      Depends on the community and how orthodox, but generally Rabbi's actually make a decent amount, maybe not as much as televanglists or anything, but they make enough to live comfortably as well as have the prestige that goes along with it so what they make lack in terms of another story on their house, they make up for in respect and prestige. Since Rabbi's don't have as much compet.ition as their christian counterparts and since they're are technically the only major authority on judaism they wield a lot of power within their congregations.

      There is a rabbinic council in Israel and I think one in America as well, but that generally has no bearing on jewish communities the way an edict from say, the pope, would have on people across the world. Just recently the rabbinc council in Israel declared that any jew who converted in America and didn't do convert exactly as they had specified were still technically not converted, yet here in America, obviously any person who spent 3+ years going through the conversion process to become a reform or conservative jew isn't going to start over again just because some crazy people across the pond say so.

      September 26, 2011 at 11:18 am |
    • SherylLynn

      God is rich – He owns every dime in the world, and He is rich towards those that love Him. If you read the bible, you will find that the richest people were those that obeyed Him.

      September 26, 2011 at 11:18 am |
    • John B

      I like your post (seriously). Here's one answer to your first FAQ ("Is religion responsible for more violent deaths than any other cause?"
      Humans are responsible for more violent deaths than any other cause, and we are good at using dogmatic belief systems (religious, political, ethnic, nationalistic, personal, or otherwise) to spur and justify their actions. We are also good at warping even prosocial belief systems, and at believing that the violent beleifs and actions of a minority of a group's members are representative of the whole group.

      September 26, 2011 at 11:24 am |
    • J.W

      Yeah I guess that does make sense Chuckles. I think a lot of people when they see how wealthy televangelists are they assume that all clergy are wealthy, and that they basically pocket the church donations. But that is not true.

      September 26, 2011 at 11:26 am |
    • Jimmy

      Then there is "multiple gods" if everyone is a god right? Not just "one" god. Which one do we follow then?

      September 26, 2011 at 11:29 am |
    • Catholic guy

      Your statement that "catholics have to give to the church in order to be saved" is untrue. Catholics are not required to give anything to their church. I understand that a lot of people share a similar cynicism towards religion with respect to money, but money is necessary for ANY form of organized religion to take place.

      Priests take a vow of poverty and get paid a meager stipend. I see nothing wrong with a Rabbi making a good living–they are highly educated and have a very specialized skill set.

      September 26, 2011 at 11:30 am |
    • Reality

      Note 1: "Vatican ran deficit in 2007: Holy See

      Last Updated: Wednesday, July 9, 2008 | 8:41 PM ET

      The Associated Press

      ."The Holy See reports that the Vatican ran a deficit in 2007, hurt by the weak dollar affecting the value of generous collection baskets from U.S. faithful and by steep costs of running its media.

      The Vatican issued financial figures showing a nearly $13.5 million US deficit last year.

      It cited the sharp drop in the exchange rate for the U.S. dollar.

      The Vatican pays many of its expenses in euros, a currency that has soared against the U.S. dollar.

      The financial report, released by the Holy See's press office, listed revenues of $371.97 million against expenses of $386.27 million.

      The Vatican said its financial investments were hurt principally by the sharp and rather marked inversion in exchange rates, above all for the U.S. dollar.

      The Vatican ran in the black over the three previous years.

      Rents and other income from the Vatican's vast real estate holdings helped its finances, the report said.

      The Vatican museums, which include the Sistine Chapel, a top tourist attraction, also helped the Holy See's finances. Some 4.3 million people visited the museums in 2007.

      "The overall income in 2003 for the vatican was $252 million. To put that in perspective, the US tax revenue of FY2009 at $2.1 trillion, the US federal government controls a budget more than 8,000 times that of the vatican. Much of this money functions in terms of operating costs. The vatican employs 2,674 people, as well as provides pensions for 1,000 retirees. It meticulously restores beautiful works of human art, maintains the centuries old vatican as well as it's subsidiary churches in the diocese of Rome, and provides many other necessary services for a sovereign nation (such as passports, newspaper printing, etc).

      Note 2: " And don’t expect the church’s opulent basilicas, its museum-quality art collection or jewelry to hit the market either. They may amount to priceless ancient treasures, but the church values most of its artwork and valuables at just 1 euro, so they will never be sold."

      Note 3: For a typical Catholic diocese in the USA see the financial report posted at http://www.dioceseoflacrosse.com/ministry_resources/finance/files/2010%20Audited%20Diocesan%20Financial%20Statement.pdf

      Note 4: for a typical Catholic parish's income/expenses see http://stjohnscatholicchurch.org/PDFs/St%20John%20Budget%20FY11.pdf

      September 26, 2011 at 11:38 am |
    • Reality

      Most Catholic priests do not take a vow of poverty. Priests of the Franciscan Order, however do.

      September 26, 2011 at 11:41 am |
    • Reality

      Rabbi Bradley Hirschfield is the one of the presidents of the non-profit National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership. As per the on-line IRS Form 990 (guiderstar.org), the rabbi is paid $331,708/yr. The co-president Rabbi Irwin Kula makes approximately the same salary. The office manager Dale Brown makes over $100,000/yr as do six other directors and administrators net assets for 2008 were over $8 million with over $3 million invested in US Treasury bills.

      September 26, 2011 at 11:45 am |
    • Chuckles

      Yeah I wouldn't say that most pastors are really "rich" in the way that we think of the wealthy, but I think like rabbi's, a lot of them enjoy the prestige and respect that comes with being a holy man and so can rely on the community to support him in need. Do I find that right? .....I'll have to ponder it more. I mean, he is providing something to the community and they are showing their respect, however to me, it sounds like nothing more than a con man with his heart in the right place. The real question is, is the con still a con even if it's done with good intentions?

      September 26, 2011 at 11:46 am |
    • Chuckles


      What can I say? Jews have always been good at investments, and being a rabbi doesn't preclude them from playing the market. Also, you again have to take the statistic with a grain of salt, Rabbi's can make an average of a certain amount/year, but it depends on their community and part of the country. If you're in a rich suburb of long island, yeah you are probably going to make a lot, but if you're a rabbi of like, 50 in Iowa.....well lets just say you aren't going to a rabbi driving a porsche. Rabbi's also generally don't have the luxury to fall back on a larger jewish base to support them if they fall on hard times,

      September 26, 2011 at 11:53 am |
    • Reality

      Coming to your city or town very soon:

      Recognizing the flaws, follies and frauds in the foundations of Islam, Judaism and Christianity, the "bowers", kneelers" and "pew peasants" are converging these religions into some simple rules of life. No koran, bible, clerics, nuns, monks, imams, evangelicals, ayatollahs, rabbis, professors of religion or priests needed or desired.

      Ditto for houses of "worthless worship" aka mosques, churches, basilicas, cathedrals, temples and synagogues.

      September 26, 2011 at 4:42 pm |
    • .........

      Multiple spam alert hit report abuse to all reality copy paste postings

      September 26, 2011 at 7:50 pm |
    • Ted M

      Reality, if you believe those numbers from the Catholic Church, you really are not skeptical enough.

      A listing of real property and all assets of the Catholic Church is in the trillions of dollars.
      They are not poor by any stretch of the imagination.
      Those numbers might only be what they are willing to show the public.
      Considering the thousands of Catholics and related buildings, etc. throughout the whole world, those numbers you've got can only be faked, like they have their own interpretation of "income" and "payroll expenses" and such.
      Quit using crap data!

      September 28, 2011 at 4:27 am |
    • Reality


      We await the references supporting your comments.

      September 28, 2011 at 8:12 am |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.