No bake sales.
We’re not a hot dog church.
No barbecues, yard sales, or pumpkin patches.
We don’t even operate as a consignment store one weekend a year.
In fact, not only do we not do extra-curricular fund raisers, I go further and contend that such activities are an afront to God and an impediment to the gospel.
Why have such distinctly un-Methodist views? Here’s why:
1. We will not nickel-and-dime the people of Good Shepherd. When people in a congregation are repeatedly asked to give money to various causes within the church — the youth’s spaghetti supper and the pre-school’s carnival, for example — they feel nickel and dimed. And do you know what you get when you nickel and dime people on the small stuff? Nickel and dime givers on the big stuff. I’ll take tithers instead, thank you very much.
2. We teach tithing. Anytime you tell the people of a church they can support its mission by buying this or growing that, you are teaching them not to tithe. We believe instead in that standard that is introduced in the Old Testament and then magnified in the New — where, after all, they gave everything and not a measly ten percent — and so we teach it with clarity and conviction. We invite people to give to God expecting nothing in return — which, when you think about it, is the opposite of traditional church fund raisers where people give in order to get.
3. We don’t believe in asking the community to pay our bills. As my friend Charles Kyker says, “The unchurched think that all the church wants is their money and so we have barbecues and bake sales and remove all doubt.” Well said. Further, if a church wants to support either a mission project or its own operating expenses, it should do so via budgeting and projecting. If you can’t afford the project through internal church support, then don’t do the project.
4. Church fund raisers damage legitimate businesses. Every barbecue plate or hot dog supper a church sells harms the for-profit businesses in the community selling those same items for their livelihood. Churches are not in legitimate competition with the nearby Sonny’s Barbecue, for example, and can dramatically undercut them on price.
5. Fund raisers divert people’s time and energy away from legitimate ministry. We act as if rising early in the morning to barbecue chicken or pork that we will sell later that day is somehow ministry. It’s not. Give that food to the Rescue Mission, distribute it under bridge overpasses, surprise teachers at the local school with it . . . and then cooking becomes ministry. In general, we devote too much precious time to raising funds that should go to making disciples.
6. (One extra, but I really believe in this topic!) We do the one fund raiser Scripture describes. Because people are not harrassed to give to this effort or that cause, they give freely to the one fund raiser the bible endorses: the offering at worship.
And the result of the No Fund Raiser Policy at this particular United Methodist Church?
More than $300,000 given to missions each year ($700,000 in 2013), annual surpluses in the budget, and even an asset replacement fund that allowed us to put a new roof on two buildings earlier this year without passing the offering basket a single extra time.
Think of it this way: when churches stop having fund raisers, they start raising some serious funds.