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The 2016 presidential campaign is in full swing and I can’t help but notice the millions—no, billions!—of dollars being spent to capitalize on potential votes. Lets do a little math… (and for what it’s worth, I cannot use the calculator on my phone because it will not compute numbers this large!)

According to, the total cost of the 2012 elections (both presidential and congressional) was $6.3 billion. What is even more surprising is that it only yielded 129 million voters—that’s $50 per voter! Keep in mind this has nothing to do with the cost of running a government that you and I already pay for every week before our paychecks hit the bank.

Here are some even more concerning statistics: In 2012, presidential candidate Mitt Romney raised $389 million and spent $336 million on his campaign, leaving almost $50 million in cash on hand. Eventual election winner, Barack Obama, raised over $632 million and spent $540 million, leaving him nearly $93 million on hand. Talk about things that make you go, “Hmmm!”

Four years later, where are we? One could argue both ways regarding the improvement of our economy or the lack thereof. One could find talking points from both sides, as we are seeing in current debates, that prove whatever “point” one wants to make. However, are real problems being solved? Are families being restored? Is there real hope in our country? Are people finding true purpose?

I remind myself and our church often that our goal in life can’t be to make a “point”; our aim must be to make a “difference.” That’s my belief, and that’s the model I see in the life of Jesus. I also believe that Jesus established the church as the hope of the world and that the gospel of Jesus is the only good news that brings purpose and true hope.

With that in mind, let me tell you where I do give my money, where my family and I give nearly all, if not all, of our “charitable” contributions. It’s not to the Salvation Army, not to the Red Cross, and not to breast cancer research (although my family has been affected by breast cancer); all of these are good organizations, but none provides eternal hope—hope that goes beyond this life. Nor were any of these organizations established by Jesus. Therefore, we give to our church. The local church. The church we call home. The church that we serve. The church that is having an impact in the community in which we live. The only “movement” that has been around for 2,000 years! Julie and I have given since we were teens and we will until we die. In fact, after we die, the local church we are a part of will be very blessed. It’s real simple—the local church offers real hope and it offers real change. It offers something that changes individuals’ lives forever. And if that’s not enough, the rewards are much greater than a tax-deduction or a pat on the back.

To find out more about how our church impacts the community, check out Relevant’s most recent annual report. You can also find out here how to invest now in something that will generate lasting results. I hope you will join me in making a difference this election season and beyond…

Carl Nichols

A native of south Atlanta, Carl has a passion for God, Julie, and sports. He and Julie have two sons, Jase and Trey. They have a heart to see people understand how crazy God is about them! Carl is the Lead Pastor at Relevant.

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