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A nonprofit helps even modestly sized congregations take on their neighbors' unpaid bills.Americans shoulder a lot of debt. When it comes to past-due medical bills, the country collectively owes at least $81 billion, according to a 2018 Health Affairs study. One in six has a credit report tarnished by debt owed to someone who probably wears a white coat to work (or to that someone’s boss).But there’s a new trend among American churches that’s taking aim at the mess. Over the past two years, more than a dozen congregations have partnered with a debt forgiveness organization to cancel millions in medical debt for people in their communities.Pathway Church in Wichita, Kansas, spent a $22,000 chunk of its budget partly meant for publicizing its Easter services to eliminate $2.2 million in medical debt for local residents. Emmanuel Memorial Episcopal Church in Champaign, Illinois, used a $15,000 surplus from a building renovation project to eliminate $4 million of debt for more than 3,000 families.Revolution Annapolis, a small Maryland church that doesn’t even have its own building, collected $15,000 last December. That donation wiped out $1.9 million for nearly a thousand families in a dozen surrounding counties. City Church in Evansville, Indiana, raised $15,000 to cover $4 million in debt.Each of these campaigns was done through a nonprofit called RIP Medical Debt, which buys huge bundles of medical debt for cheap and then invites charitable donors—such as churches—to settle the bill. Once the donations are in, RIP sends letters to the debtors, alerting them that their bill was paid in full.“Taking up debts, helping to relieve each other’s burdens . . . that’s a fundamental image of Christian discipleship,” said theologian Jordan J. Ballor, senior research ...Continue reading...
Kansas, Oklahoma Hit By 65 Earthquakes In 7 Days... (First column, 7th story, link) Related stories:11 in one county... Advertise here
A nonprofit helps even modestly sized congregations take on their neighbors' unpaid bills.Americans shoulder a lot of debt. When it comes to past-due medical bills, the country collectively owes at least $81 billion, according to a 2018 Health Affairs study. One in six has a credit report tarnished by debt owed to someone who probably wears a white coat to work (or to that someone’s boss).But there’s a new trend among American churches that’s taking aim at the mess. Over the past two years, more than a dozen congregations have partnered with a debt forgiveness organization to cancel millions in medical debt for people in their communities.Pathway Church in Wichita, Kansas, spent a $22,000 chunk of its budget partly meant for publicizing its Easter services to eliminate $2.2 million in medical debt for local residents. Emmanuel Memorial Episcopal Church in Champaign, Illinois, used a $15,000 surplus from a building renovation project to eliminate $4 million of debt for more than 3,000 families.Revolution Annapolis, a small Maryland church that doesn’t even have its own building, collected $15,000 last December. That donation wiped out $1.9 million for nearly a thousand families in a dozen surrounding counties. City Church in Evansville, Indiana, raised $15,000 to cover $4 million in debt.Each of these campaigns was done through a nonprofit called RIP Medical Debt, which buys huge bundles of medical debt for cheap and then invites charitable donors—such as churches—to settle the bill. Once the donations are in, RIP sends letters to the debtors, alerting them that their bill was paid in full.“Taking up debts, helping to relieve each other’s burdens . . . that’s a fundamental image of Christian discipleship,” said theologian Jordan J. Ballor, senior research ...Continue reading...
The Association of Related Churches (ARC) focuses on a non-competitive spirit and strategic growth.One Sunday morning last year, greeters waved and held signs saying “You Belong Here” and “You Can Sit With Us” to welcome cars pulling up to SOCO Church, which meets in an event space in downtown Bentonville, Arkansas.The worship band led the congregation in Hillsong’s “O Praise the Name” before a plaid-clad pastor in clear-framed glasses took the stage to preach. By the time the greeters returned to the sidewalks with their “See You Next Week” signs, 627 people had attended back-to-back services, and 14 of them made decisions for Christ.All on their first Sunday as a church.“I remember just weeping,” said Brad Hampton, who copastors SOCO (short for “souls” and “community”) with his wife, Jessica. “God is so faithful.”Their year-and-a-half-old congregation belongs to the Association of Related Churches (ARC), a nondenominational church-planting network known for training planters to go big. Through starting more than 800 churches in the US over nearly 20 years, ARC leaders discovered that a large gathering on their first Sunday is a major factor helping churches become more sustainable in the long run.ARC has leveraged its church planting expertise to come up with a playbook on how to successfully start a new church. And pastors aren’t expected to go it alone; the network relies on recent planters to coach the next round.“Twenty years ago, you started a church in your house and you preached it up until you got enough people and enough money to go to a building,” said Josh Roberie, who oversees training and coaching for ARC. “We have a launch large strategy. You make the first day like an opening day.” ...Continue reading...
The Association of Related Churches (ARC) focuses on a non-competitive spirit and strategic growth.One Sunday morning last year, greeters waved and held signs saying “You Belong Here” and “You Can Sit With Us” to welcome cars pulling up to SOCO Church, which meets in an event space in downtown Bentonville, Arkansas.The worship band led the congregation in Hillsong’s “O Praise the Name” before a plaid-clad pastor in clear-framed glasses took the stage to preach. By the time the greeters returned to the sidewalks with their “See You Next Week” signs, 627 people had attended back-to-back services, and 14 of them made decisions for Christ.All on their first Sunday as a church.“I remember just weeping,” said Brad Hampton, who copastors SOCO (short for “souls” and “community”) with his wife, Jessica. “God is so faithful.”Their year-and-a-half-old congregation belongs to the Association of Related Churches (ARC), a nondenominational church-planting network known for training planters to go big. Through starting more than 800 churches in the US over nearly 20 years, ARC leaders discovered that a large gathering on their first Sunday is a major factor helping churches become more sustainable in the long run.ARC has leveraged its church planting expertise to come up with a playbook on how to successfully start a new church. And pastors aren’t expected to go it alone; the network relies on recent planters to coach the next round.“Twenty years ago, you started a church in your house and you preached it up until you got enough people and enough money to go to a building,” said Josh Roberie, who oversees training and coaching for ARC. “We have a launch large strategy. You make the first day like an opening day.” ...Continue reading...
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