[“Church Without…” is a series of think-pieces designed to slowly deconstruct what we think is essential to having church and to call attention to the hidden barriers we’ve erected between ourselves and the Great Commission.]
“If God wants it done, He’ll fund it.”
I think I heard a variation of that line from Shane Claiborne, but I can’t remember. The maxim still rings true, especially when we consider so much abuse that takes place in the church in the name of fundraising.
So many ask for so much money, and so very often, they ask the Church. In the local church context, this can happen in a lot of different ways as there is always summers camps, kids’ missionary projects, youth missionary projects, church missionary projects, and random benevolence requests.
These are all fine and worthy causes, but what often happens is that the same groups come to the same group–the congregation–for money. What results is not “fundraising” but “fund reallocation” as people begin to take from their tithe, which supports the church, in order to support other causes. That is not a great plan, long-term.
What if we took some missionaries, the ones who provide direct humanitarian support, and set them up with a Kickstarter or Indiegogo-style fundraising platform? There are people who would never give to “spreading the gospel” who would love to give to building schools and installing wells.
For projects like summer camp or for church improvement projects, such as purchasing a new roof or a new furnace, a more traditional fundraising approach could be used. For years, my church has raised money for missions, of our youth, and our building fund by selling homemade ice cream at our town carnival. Each year, we’d bring in a couple thousand dollars. It wasn’t a lot, especially when you consider how many volunteer hours went into the whole thing. Of course, when you stop asking your people for so much money, you may just find that they’re happy to give you some time instead.
The last set of projects, then, the gospel-oriented missions projects are the only ones left in the hands of the local church, and this is where we learn the value of “offerings,” of giving over and above our tithe as a way of worship to God. This is where we can take “faith promises,” wherein we prayerfully we pledge to give money to a missions project “as God supplies the funds.”
All in all, there isn’t anything revolutionary in what I’ve just said about fundraising, but I feel that it’s important to go over these basic elements again, especially as social media keeps a never-ending stream of financial needs before our eyes at all times. Donor fatigue is a real thing. We’d better prepare ourselves for it.