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During these tough economic times, churches all across the country are seeing a sharp drop in their offerings. Thankfully, we haven’t seen that here, yet, but a lot of churches have, one of them being the Cross Timbers Community Church in Argyle, Texas. Their drop in income has forced them to make some very "painful" cuts.

Even so, the pastor of the church, Toby Slough, has been more concerned about how his members are facing their own tough times of job losses, pay cuts, and foreclosures. So with that in mind, Slough did something a little different when the church took up an offering one Sunday morning in March of 2009. He didn’t encourage people to put money in the plate; he encouraged people to take money out of the plate. (Talk about breaking tradition!)

Do you know, on that particular Sunday, the church actually took in the largest offering of its nine-year history? People were more than ready to give to those in need -- ready to make sure the plate was filled to overflowing as it was passed among those who were suffering.

Pastor Slough told a CNN affiliate in Dallas, "In these economic times, we can’t be so into church business that we forget what our business is, and that is to help people." In the two months that followed, Cross Timbers has given a half-million dollars to members and non-members alike who are facing various financial struggles.

One Sunday morning, they gave $50 bills to 1,300 families and asked them to hand them out to those in need. One of the recipients of Cross Timbers’ generosity was Katie Lewis. When interviewed by CNN, a tearful Lewis said, "I’ve been alone so long. Just to be thought of and to be remembered, to be welcomed--it’s amazing."

(Source: Brian Lowery; "Church gives fresh meaning to ’offering’ plate,", 5-18-09. From a sermon by C. Philip Green, "Transcending Tradition" 7/6/2009)

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