This is the third article in a short series exploring how the church should legitimately raise money in order to support ministry and missions. In the first we considered two common challenges to raising, even just speaking about money, in the church setting. Then, in the second, I made a case for the practice of tithing. Another way in which the church should raise money is through providing services to people at an appropriate price. This is one area that we do not normally think about as a form of raising money for the church but we often do it.

The church can raise money through providing services to people at an appropriate price.

Many Churches Already Raise Money By Charging

We often charge fees for those who want to attend a camp or conference. This helps us to meet some of the costs of organising such events. We also sell Christian books to those who want to read them. In that way, we are able to continue supplying books to believers to help them in their spiritual walk. A church can provide parking space to a neighbouring school or any other institution at a small fee. It can then use those funds toward its own maintenance costs.

Paul made and sold tents in order to sustain his missionary work.

In Bible days, the apostle Paul joined Priscilla and Aquila in making tents and selling them in order to sustain his missionary work for a season (Acts 18:1-5). He was later able to say to the church elders in Ephesus, “I coveted no one’s silver or gold or apparel. You yourselves know that these hands ministered to my necessities and to those who were with me” (Acts 20:33-34).

Consider William Carey’s Example

One outstanding historical example of this is William Carey (1761-1834). He is known as the father of modern missions. As a Baptist pastor in England, he looked after his family by making, selling, and repairing shoes. Later, he supplemented his income as a pastor by working part-time as a teacher. The reason he is called the father of modern missions is that, at a time when the church in Europe hardly ever thought of deliberately and purposefully sending missionaries, Carey convinced his fellow Baptist pastors in England to send him as a missionary to India.

Soon after he arrived in India, Carey found various forms of income to sustain the work there.

However the churches in England raised very little money to support Carey and his family out in the mission field. For they were very poor. So, soon after he arrived in India, Carey found various forms of income to sustain himself there. Over the years, he even mastered many of the Indian languages so that he was employed as a professor of Indian languages at the Fort William College in India. He used his remuneration to support the work of missions that he was doing. William Carey even printed and sold newspapers and dictionaries. The funds raised in these activities were plowed back into the same literature work, which Carey used so effectively to spread the truth of Jesus Christ.

It’s Better To Charge Than Beg

What ought to be discouraged is begging non-Christians to give money to the church. This has become very common especially when churches are raising money toward their building projects. Church members march through streets in the city with tins in their hands, asking motorists to donate toward their capital campaign. Whereas this brings in some money, you are not offering a service in exchange for the money you are receiving. Those who have no interest in the cause of Christ are made to feel as if they are doing the church of Christ a favour.

What ought to be discouraged is begging non-Christians to give money to the church.

Rather than asking for such favours, get your young people to wash those cars and get paid for the work. That is a fair exchange for a service rendered. That is an appropriate way for the church to raise money.

Adapted from God’s Design for the Church: A Guide for African Pastors and Ministry Leaders by Conrad Mbewe, Copyright © 2020, pp. 144-146. Used by permission of Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers, Wheaton, IL 60187. Copies can be purchased at the Book Depository.