Pennies In The Trash: A commentary on the value of the "least among us" in God's plan for reaching the world for Jesus.

The following Cellutation was a post made to the Cell-Net interactive e-mail list which is comprised of Cell Church pastors and group leaders from all over the world.

Pennies In The Trash



(Part Two)

Pennies In The Trash

A few moments ago, I was picking up the living room after watching a video with my wife. I picked up all the candy wrappers and the plates with salsa left on them. On my way back, I noticed a penny lying just under the edge of the couch. I leaned over, picked it up and placed it in my left hand that had the napkin I used while enjoying my tasty treats. I walked to the waste basket, opened the lid, scraped out the salsa and chips, and dropped the dirty napkin into the basket. As I did, I heard the penny that I had picked up fall into the trash.

Out of habit (I have spent many years of my life being extremely poor), I reached my hand a little way into the full and starting-to-stink garbage. Then the thought came to me, "You have worked very hard to get to where you are in business and you make a great living, you don't need to dig your hands into such an awful pile of rubbish just to get a penny." I left the lid open and walked to the sink to rinse off the plates while I considered the thought I just had.

"H-m-m-m," I pondered, "was that a godly thought? It is true, I have worked hard and I now spend more in a month on eating out for lunch than I used to make in a month. Just how valuable is that penny to me anyway?"

While I finished rinsing the last plate, the thought then came to mind, "Would Jesus take that penny out of the trash?" Then I remembered the parable of Jesus about the maiden who lost a coin, later found it, and called her friends to rejoice over what she deemed an important recovery.

Then a strange feeling passed through my heart. I felt sorry for the penny! All I could picture was this penny being buried at the land fill among all the refuse, never (throughout all eternity) being used again for its intended, created purpose. (Strange, I know.)

I walked back to the trash can, grabbing a paper towel and turning on the brightest light in the kitchen along the way, reached my hand (now wrapped in the paper towel) into the least messy parts of the garbage only to realize the penny had fallen in deeper than I would have liked it to. I pulled back the top layers of the soggy chips and smelly dinner scraps. "Aha! There you are!" I thought. As I reached to get to grab the penny, it fell even deeper into the can. Carefully this time, I pulled off the things that restricted my access to the coin, spotted and rescued it from its certain and eternal penny hell.


How ironic it is that we, the Church, go to so much trouble to rescue from the garbage dumps of eternity those souls for which God has a sovereign purpose, only to lose track of where they are. Sure, like my penny, they'll turn up sometime, and maybe even make it to some place where they can be useful. Reality is that even after most people receive Christ they are still "pennies." My penny didn't miraculously turn into a thousand dollar bill once I heroically rescued it. Most believers will never have the life-redeeming talents of a Billy Graham either. And since they don't produce very much for our high and mighty visions for changing the world for Jesus we tend to neglect them, and lose them again in some other place where they will never achieve all that they are capable of achieving. But are their gifts and callings less important than the diamonds in our midst? If we were to produce some Billy Graham-types from our evangelistic efforts, would we not know where each of them is and how they are progressing and affecting the Kingdom of God? But do we know where all our "pennies" are?

Let me share with you something I learned about pennies when I was just a little boy. One of my friends once asked me, "Would you rather have someone give you a million dollars today, or a penny today, two pennies tomorrow, four pennies the next day, and so on, doubling your pennies each day for a total of thirty days?" I don't remember what my answer was (probably the wrong one), but the question and its answer stuck to me like glue from that day until now.

The smartest answer, as you have probably already guessed, is to take the pennies. According to my Texas Instruments BA-II calculator, $.01 (one penny) compounded daily at 100% interest for 30 days = $10,737,418.00! Rothchilds, the famous and (in his days on earth) very wealthy banker, once said that compound interest is the eighth wonder of the world.

Here is another scenario to consider. Which would you rather have the worlds largest diamond, or all the "insignificant" coins that have been lost since the dawn of currency? Imagine the wealth of those coins! How old and yet how valuable they all would be to historians and collectors today. One can never tell what such a purse would be worth. Each coin would be worth what someone would be willing to pay for it, I guess. To me, looking at a 1,000 year-old coin preserved in a flawless state would look like just an old coin. But to a collector who understands the value, beyond its weight in silver or gold and exterior beauty, it could be worth a fortune.

God values each human in a way most of us cannot understand (certainly I don't). He was willing to pay the highest price at the auction of our souls, the price of His Son's blood and death. He is the ultimate "Penny Collector." He goes to great lengths to rescue each one and never loses track of one of them.

While He looks for pennies, we look for rubies, silver dollars, and bills in grand denominations (pardon the pun). We seek to train people to think that Christian greatness is "going to Bible college...hitting the mission fields...making great and noble sacrifices of any kind...having faith to heal the sick and raise the dead!" All these are wonderful and some people are certainly capable of doing these things and should because they can. But are we neglecting the single greatest resource we have for evangelizing the world -- the ordinary believer?

If we could somehow raise the esteem and value of each ordinary believer leading a couple of people to Jesus each year to the highest of level importance and could stop lauding the "diamonds and thousand-dollar bills" among us long enough to really concentrate on teaching believers that each one doing a little bit is much more powerful than a few doing a lot, oh, what revival we would see! If we could get them to change their focus from the grandiose visions and great exploits of faith just long enough to concentrate on reaching one neighbor, one schoolmate, one coworker to Jesus, I think our biggest problem would be too much growth happening too fast. If a 100-member congregation could successfully get each person to lead one person to Jesus every six months and teaches each new believer to do the same, the results would astound us! That congregation would in five years become a 102,400-member congregation, in 7 years 1,638,400 new believers would be added to the Church, and in ten years they would increase heaven's head count by more than 100,000,000 souls!

I find it more than coincidental that God placed the words of the Apostle Paul, saying "And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others" in the address of 2 Timothy 2:2 ("2...2...2"). A "Penny Collector" times 2, times 2, times 2, and so on is the very formula for exponential growth!

My dear Cell Church brothers and sisters, this is the true power of "every believer a minister." This is where our true potential lies in fulfilling the Great Commission and this is where the true paradigm shift must take place. It is ultimately why God is rallying the "ordinary" into small clusters and telling them, "Now it's up to you." Because in reality, it is the only way possible to win the billions alive today to Jesus. Yes, teach the zealots to become great leaders, workers of miracles, and supermodels! But teach them also to see the "least among you" as possessing greater value when the Body of Christ works together as it should. Teach the leaders to be teachers of teachers and trainers of trainers! Teach them, my dear brothers, to become God's Penny Collectors (Ephesians 4:11-13).


To maximize the "one-penny believer" potential we must take a look at several key dynamics, many of which you are already using, some we can learn from the Network (Multi-Level) Marketing movement, some from God's creation, some we will have to discover by sharing among ourselves, and all of which we will find hidden in the scriptures.

Until Next Time,

David Colister
Power House Church
Dallas/Fort Worth

Copyright © 1995 Power House Church

Mirrored With Permission