taking the words of Jesus seriously

If you are a Twitterer, and especially if you live in the San Francisco area, you may have noticed a phenomenon that has swept the Twitterverse this last week.

An anonymous donor, under the Twitter handle of @HiddenCash started leaving clues on Twitter as to where envelopes filled with sums of cash were hidden.

Calling it “An anonymous social experiment for good” @HiddenCash suddenly exploded with followers as people started finding these envelopes and tweeting the pictures.

30000 happened really quickly and overnight it had climbed to 70000 – announcing a special treat when he hit 100 thousand followers, that had to be put on hold as the target was reached way more quickly than expected. A week later he sits over 450, 000 followers.

Having started this in SF, @HiddenCash promised to expand and this last weekend saw him filling beaches and parks in LA with eager ‘treasure hunters’ who responded to clues and pictures of where the loot was buried. He hid different amounts in the low hundreds of dollars in 36 Angry Birds dolls and buried them on a beach and then later tweeted the name of the beach.

Related: I Tithe….but should it go to my Local Church?

A lot of really happy people. And of course with Twitter come the haters as people are questioning his motives and he keeps responding that he is just a guy with a lot of money trying to make a little bit of difference and hopefully inspire people to pass it forward as many have done.

While @HiddenCash is doing a fun thing and clearly creating a bit of a vibe and making a lot of people happy, one wonders what the long term benefit is?

That’s where a non-profit like Common Change has some ideas. Also started as an experiment, this time between a group of friends, what started under the banner of Relational Tithe was a group of friends wanting to help people they already knew. So the idea they came up with was donating ten percent of their incomes to a common ‘pot’ and then using that money to meet the needs of people they knew.

8 years and more than $500, 000 later, Relational Tithe realised this was an experiment that needed to be shared and so Common Change was formed. An online tool that allows you and some friends to set up a group, donate money regularly and then start meeting needs of people in one degree of separation to one of your group members.

As Common Change heads into the Summer they are going to be hosting a series of Generosity Dinners that allow you to experientially ‘get’ what Common Change is all about. The premise is hosting a meal and inviting friends to bring a donation and sharing some needs of people you know around the dinner table and being able to meet some of them.

Also by Brett: The Problem of Fred Phelps

While Common Change is certainly not the only way of giving effectively, the relationship aspect certainly adds a stunning twist to what individuals like @HiddenCash and many other groups are doing. The idea of walking alongside someone with a need and not simply throwing cash at the need.

What other creative ways can you come up with that involve living out the generosity that we are called to embody?

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