Stewardship Means Supporting My Neighbor

It’s a true story … and I wish that there were more like them.
Recently, a church in New York descended on a small business owned by a church member for one full business day. Residing in the same community, the East Harlem café welcomed the large “cash mob” from Metro Hope Covenant Community Church. The worship band became the house band for the day. Two group members served as volunteers due to the large crowd. The church packed out the café on one of the snowiest days of the year and paid with cash, helping with the café’s low revenue stream. This story drew me in for several reasons: It’s a dynamic gesture of love and selflessness. It took a lot of work to support this local business in this way. But mostly, the reason I love this story is in how it represents commitment to our own communities and to the body of Christ.

 Support Local Businesses

José Humphrey, a member of Metro Hope who wrote an article about the event, said, “Supporting local business is embedded in our core value of concern for the city. More important, it’s one way we teach people how to live as Christ followers.”

So, back home in my own city, a question of concern for our local churches is this: Does living as a follower of Christ come with any responsibility to support local businesses?

“Supporting local businesses” is a constant theme in the affairs of running a Christian retail store. We are here to serve the church, which means that the church is our largest customer base. Yet, it seems that it’s an ongoing attempt to educate and re-educate the church to stick with us. I constantly scratch my head, asking myself if maybe I’m not the one getting it.

Support the Community

As we connect with local churches and ask where they get their books and supplies, 9 out of 10 times they say Amazon. They’re quick to explain that they go where they can get the best price because they have a responsibility to be wise with their money. I do understand that sentiment, but I point to people like José as an example and ask, “Are churches looking around their own house of worship or local community and asking, ‘Do we have a respon- sibility to the guy in our own pew?’”

How are we caring for our neighbor (literally) when we aren’t taking the time and financ- es to support our own community? As we send our money elsewhere, local businesses suffer. This means that my neighbor suffers in kind. Seriously, church, let’s really take some lessons from those already seeing the inconsistency and doing something about it.

This conversation is one worth having regularly. Maybe, just maybe, more stories like this will lead the way.

“Love must be both ‘Show and Tell.’ If you love someone, show them and tell them. Love is displayed through consistency in both our words and our actions.”

 –  Sue Smith

CBA Board Chairman