Church invests in city
On March 10, the first Sunday of spring break, First Baptist Church of Burleson greeted worshippers with a surprise envelope.
Upon opening the envelope, smiles blossomed on many faces. While others were rather confused.
The envelope had free money inside it. The church gave every adult in attendance that day $100.
No, the church did not lose its mind, said pastor Ronny Marriott.
"It's really to bless our church, also bless our community," Marriott said. "But, also, for our people to experience the joy of giving."
About 700 individual envelopes were given out that Sunday. The following week, the church distributed similar envelopes to its ministers and other local ministers.
The final amount given out totaled about $100,000.
Admittedly, the $100 given to each individual is not for them for the taking. The money is like a seed that the people now have to water and care for until it blooms.
Meaning, the worshippers are expected to invest the $100 they received in any way or form in their capacity. They are asked to bring back all the returns they are able to generate to the church.
"No pressure, just take it," Marriott said. "Ultimately, if you just give it back, that's fine. But, think about it. Ask God how he would want you to invest this. See what happens."
The idea, now being dubbed First Burleson Investment Challenge, started out after a group of generous donors gave the initial $100,000.
Marriott wanted to stretch the money to help as many people as possible. So, he came up with the investment challenge.
Everyone who took the challenge will bring in their investments and any profit they made to the church on Easter Sunday, April 21.
"That money comes back to the church, it will support our ministries, and our programs because we're very involved in the community," Marriott said. "Then, we'll choose other ministries that are outside of our church, not a part of our church, and we'll bless them with the money."
He expects the investment to double in a month's time. If the returns exceed the original $100,000 investment, the money will go to help other local organizations that may deal with wide-ranging issues such as domestic violence, poverty and homelessness.
However, it all depends on how much money comes back to the church, if it comes back at all. Because there are no contracts for any investment. The operation runs on an honor system.
"In fact, I kind of did joke about it," Marriott said. "I said, 'This is not your money, this is God's money. So, if you decide to steal it, you have to talk to Him about it.'"
He said he is confident that people are willing and will put in the effort for helping the community.
The people who got the $100 have already started growing their investment with small, home-based operations.
Various parents along with their children are making and selling food, like tamales. One group is making T-shirts to sell. Another group is making tables from scratch and selling them on eBay.
"This is a way to honor God by giving and really to receive a blessing from being faithful with being good stewards of all our money," Marriott said. "My hope is it goes on and creates some change in people's lives."