Free money

Group 236

by the Rev. Connie Thomson

Every now and then I hear stories of congregations who give their people $10, $20, even $100 each and tell them to go do something good with it.

1504balloonsI just love that sort of stuff.  I love to hear the stories of people who come back and tell about buying lunch for someone going through a hard time, grabbing a gas gift card and giving it to a stranger at the pump, handing it to a landlord and wanting it to be shared with the next person who can’t pay their electric bill.

I had a friend who was once blessed with a $50 bill, and she walked through the government housing project closest to where she lived and prayed about who she might give it to.  Her heart was so moved when she talked with a single mom and chose to give to her, that my friend went right back to her bank, withdrew three more $50 dollar bills from her own account, and gave one to a guy who was getting in his car to go to work, handed one to an elderly couple walking into their front door, and even left one in somebody’s mailbox.  When it came right down to it, she said that made her feel better than anything else she would have done with the $200 bucks.

If my friend would have approached you, I’m guessing you’d have been able to come up with something to do with the money.  Go out to dinner, pay a bill, buy a few books, invest it, even give it away!  And if your church was approached, they would have lots of ideas of what to do with it, too.  Curriculum, advertising, banners, food program for your neighbors, youth outing, bus trip for the seniors, paint the narthex, seed money for an after-school program?

Such a gift is outstretched to rostered leaders and congregations in the synod. ELCA-Primary health plan members and their spouses can take a health assessment through Portico* and earn up to $500 to be used for eligible healthcare expenses. And if 65% of enrolled plan members in the synod take the health assessment, our congregations could have their premiums reduced by 2%, meaning approximately $26,000 could be used locally in our congregation’s ministries.

It took me a couple of years before I ever did the health assessment.  Why?  Because I was foolish.  I didn’t recognize free money when it looked me right in the face.  As such, I robbed myself, my church, and my Church.

I want our synod and our congregations to get the 2% discount of what it costs us to engage in the awesome program Portico offers.  I hope you do, too.

A celebrity won’t deliver it.  You won’t go on reality TV.  And the only way there will be balloons is if you go out and spend some of your new-found wealth on them.  But you will have this unexpected gift.  And a bonus along the way is gaining some good information to help you on your path to wellness.

ELCA-Primary health plan members and their spouses have until April 30 to sign up.  I have, and I hope you do, too! Just think of what that free money could do.

* Portico Benefit Services offers a financial incentive to employers — a 2% discount on health contributions — as a reward for helping communicate to sponsored plan members and their spouses or ESGPs with ELCA-Primary health benefits the importance of taking the online Mayo Clinic health assessment. Portico is a long-standing ELCA ministry offering plans to enhance the well-being of rostered leaders and lay employees. More at

Our guest blogger is pastor of River of Grace Lutheran Church in Manassas, Virginia.