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Malachi 3:10 Faith Challenge

MALACHI 3:10 FAITH CHALLENGE

Did you know that there is only one place in all of scripture where God tells us to test Him? It’s true. It’s found in Malachi 3:10:

“Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, so that there may be food in my house, and thus put me to the test, says the Lord of hosts; see if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you an overflowing blessing.”

We want to introduce to you a crazy idea that we’ve been discussing on the Leadership Team for over a year now, it’s called the Malachi 3:10 Faith Challenge. Here is how it goes. We want to see our congregation continue to grow and mature spiritually in our walk as disciples of Jesus. One of the ways we do that is through giving of our financial resources. We know that many at Eastside understand this and live into this part of our faith with great joy and regularity, ECC truly is a generous community. A great majority of our congregation gives regularly and sacrificially of what you have to support the mission and ministry of this church. To you we say a deep and heartfelt thank you.


We also know that for many this area of faith is one that is either a struggle, or that hasn’t had much attention paid to it for a variety of reasons. We want to provide an intentional avenue of growth for this aspect of our walk with Jesus. We also think it is particularly noteworthy that God, through the prophet Malachi is so explicit here in his challenge to his people to test him with their full tithe.

So here is the crazy idea: we are challenging you to give your full tithe (10%) as an experiment, to literally test God, for three months. If you don’t experience the full measure of what God promises – that He will “Open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you an overflowing blessing,”- then we will give you your money back.

Seriously. 

Now here is the catch (there is always a catch), we aren’t going to keep the money. We are going to collect all the funds that are donated this fall through this endeavor and donate them at Christmastime to an organization called “RIP Medical Debt.”

RIP Medical Debt is a non-profit that purchases – for pennies on the dollar – medical debt which people have been unable to pay. Once the debt is purchased, they forgive it, with no strings attached. By partnering with this organization, we can even choose which state they forgive debt in, meaning our contributions will have a local impact here in Arizona.  

We’re going to take 100% of the money donated throughout the Fall towards this endeavor and use it as a Christmas gift to help liberate those who are overburdened with medical debt in Arizona. It is in the spirit of Isaiah 61:1:

“The spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me; he has sent me to bring good news to the oppressed, to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and release to the prisoners.”

This is a Messianic verse, predicting the coming of Christ 700 years before Jesus was born, and when Jesus first started his earthly ministry he read this text aloud in the synagogue in Nazareth and said:

“Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing” (Luke 4:21).

It is in this spirit of “setting the captives free” that we are embarking on this endeavor.

Now you may be wondering, “How much of an impact can a small church like Eastside really make on a problem as large as this?” Surprisingly, quite an impact! When medical debt becomes delinquent (meaning that the indebted person cannot pay), the debt gets sold to collection agencies (or anyone who wants to purchase it) for literal pennies on the dollar. As a result, when RIP Medical Debt purchases this debt with the intention of forgiving it, they can do so at a fraction of the actual cost. That means that $1 donated can forgive $10 or sometimes even as much as $100 worth of medical debt. Even a small amount can make a huge impact!

Starting on October 1st we will begin accepting donations for this faith challenge. We will close out this crazy experiment on Christmas Eve.

Here are the Nuts and Bolts of how this is going to work:

Step One: Identify which of these four categories describes you:

  1. You do not currently give financially to support ECC or you give infrequently.
  2. You give regularly at a set percentage which is less than 10% of your income.
  3. You give 10% of your income regularly.
  4. You give more than 10% of your income. 

Step Two: Depending upon which category you land in, read on to find out how to participate:

Category One: We encourage you to establish a set percentage of your income and to donate it on a monthly basis. We recognize that for many in this situation, tithing the full 10% can be a big jump and may not be something you are able to consider at this time. Our hope is not to create any sense of obligation, but an invitation for joyful participation in what it means to give generously. See the How-To box below for specific donation instructions. 

Category Two: If you currently give a percentage of your income that is shy of 10%, we will ask you to separate your regular giving from any giving as part of the Malachi 3:10 Challenge. This helps us do two things:

  1. Maintain our current operating budget. 
  2. Account for how much money you’ve given specifically towards this Challenge so that we may refund it to you at any point (should you choose).

For example: If you currently give 6% of your income and want to participate and give the additional 4%, then you will continue to give your 6% to the General Fund and making a separate, and specifically marked donation to the Malachi 3:10 fund. Read on for specific instructions.

Category Three and Four: If you are already tithing 10% or more of your income regularly to Eastside Covenant but you’d like to go beyond this, then you are certainly welcome to participate. You can follow the steps listed on the next page.

How To Give:

You can give in three ways: cash, check, or online. 

For cash or check contributions, please indicate that your funds are going towards the Malachi 3:10 Challenge (envelope or memo line). 

If you are giving online, visit our website at ecctucson.org. On the Online Giving page, please select the Malachi 3:10 fund.

FAQ’S

Q. Can I give in one check and have you split the amounts?

A. Unfortunately no.

Because we want to keep our word and return your money (if you choose), and also to maintain our very lean operating budget, having you separate your giving helps us to ensure both goals. This, however, is a temporary arrangement.

Q. Will you deposit funds or will you “hold on to them?”

A. We will deposit all funds donated towards the Malachi 3:10 Faith Challenge. They will be held in a reserve fund and will not be used for any other purpose. At Christmastime we will donate every single penny given for this purpose to RIP Medical Debt. 

Q. Can I really “get my money back” if I want to?

A. Absolutely! You can get your money back, we really mean it. You will need to give us one week’s notice to issue you a refund check. There will be no questions asked and it will be 100% confidential.

Q. How do I get a refund?

A. You will need to speak directly with Conor Johnson our Treasurer. He will be the only person who knows and he will maintain 100% confidentiality. If you do want to have a refund check issued you’ll need to do so by Tuesday, December 17th.

Q. Can I give online?

A.  Yes! You may do so on our website at ecctucson.org. Under the Online Giving page, you may select “Malachi 3:10 Fund” for any funds that you want to donate towards this fund or “General Fund” for any regular giving.

Q. Is RIP Medical Debt a Christian organization?

A. No.

RIP Medical Debt is a non-religious organization; however their mission of debt forgiveness aligns profoundly well with how we understand the Gospel. You can find out more information about their mission and how they operate on their website.

Q. Will those who have their debt forgiven know that it came from Eastside Covenant Church?

A. Yes, we hope it makes for a great Christmas present for someone who has been unduly burdened by oppressive medical debt.

Q. How worthy is this cause?

A. We find this cause to be extremely worthy! Given the skyrocketing cost of healthcare and health insurance that often doesn’t cover the full measure of the cost, otherwise financially healthy families can often find themselves swamped with bills that they simply cannot pay. We believe that no one should have to choose between putting food on the table or a lifesaving medical procedure for themselves or their children.

Q. Will there be periodic updates as to the total raised?

A. Because you’ll have the opportunity to have your money returned through December 17th, we will not have a final total until the Malachi 3:10 Challenge is completed. We will announce the total raised towards this worthy cause on Christmas Eve.

Q. What happens after December?

A. It’s up to you. Our short-term hope is twofold: First, and most urgently, to help liberate those suffering under burdensome medical debt, but also to provide a pathway to help you grow in generosity and faith. 

Our long-term hope is to increase the amount of financial resources available to us as a congregation so that we can continue to find creative ways to bless and impact our community for the Kingdom of God. Going forward into 2020, if you find that participating in this challenge was worth it and your budget allows you to continue giving at an increased rate, then we’d ask that you prayerfully consider continuing to give at that rate so that we can continue to bless and “set the captives free” in our community with increased financial resources.

Q. Is my donation tax deductible?

A. Yes, any donation to Eastside Covenant Church may be claimed as a charitable gift. You will receive a giving report that may be used for tax purposes for all contributions. We typically have these prepared by February so that you have plenty of time to file your taxes before April.

Still have questions? Send us an email at office@ecctucson.org, we’d love to connect and provide any additional information you may need.