How should the church legitimately raise money? Where should its money come from? And are there wrong ways to go about it? In a short series of posts developed from my book, God’s Design For The Church, I hope to answer these questions along with a few others. However, in this short post I want to address two difficulties we’re faced with when considering how the church should raise money. The first is that people are typically sensitive when it comes to talking about their money, not to mention giving it away. The second challenge is that at first glance it seems like the Bible doesn’t teach much about raising money.
Every Church Needs to Raise Money
Before we look in detail at these two challenges, let us at least admit that there is no doubt that every church needs money and that the primary source of that money will be its own members. The church needs money to pay all those who are in its employment, and especially those who do the work of pastoring the flock and preaching. Such individuals will often also need transport and accommodation, which the church often has to pay for. The church also needs money in order to maintain its buildings and to pay its utility bills and various other fees imposed on it by the municipality and the state. Churches without their own buildings need to pay rent for the place where they meet.
Every church needs money. And the primary source of that money will be its members.
The church needs money to underwrite its various activities such as children’s work, youth camps, and many other outreach efforts. If the church has begun to support missions work, then there will be need for even more money. In today’s technological world, the church will need money to buy and maintain equipment such as public address systems, music systems, computers, and printers. The church also looks after the most economically vulnerable in its ranks, especially those who are orphans and widows, and will need money for that as well. No one can ever doubt that every church needs money. The bigger the church, the more money it needs to keep its systems on the move.
The question is: how should the church legitimately raise its money?
1. Money is Always a Sensitive Topic
The first difficulty with answering this question is simply the fact that the subject of money is always a sensitive one. This is because it deals with a commodity that we toil for most of our lives, yet never seem to have enough of. We spend a lot of time trying to get more of it from our employers or from our businesses. So, giving it away “just like that” is something we are generally reluctant to do.
We feel threatened when someone suggests parting with our money.
The moment someone begins to talk about our money and wanting us to part with it, we feel threatened. He must have a very convincing argument before we can accept parting with our money.
2. God Doesn’t Say Much About Raising Money
The second difficulty with answering this question is the fact that the Bible says very little about how the church should raise its money. That does not mean the Bible is silent about issues to do with money. Rather, most of the teaching in the Bible on the subject of money is about our attitude toward money, including the famous verse that says: “The love of money is a root of all kinds of evils” (1 Timothy 6:10).
This paucity has caused many church leaders to use any method that brings in the money.
It is this paucity of information that has caused many church leaders to resort to any method that will bring in the money. They use either honey or vinegar to get money out of their church members’ pockets. They say that God will bless you abundantly if you give your money to the church or that he will punish you severely if you do not. Both of those messages tend to bring in the cash. But, surely, that is not the way God wants his people to be inspired to give toward his cause. He wants their giving to be joyful and in truth.
The Way Forward
Despite the sensitivity of this subject as well as the paucity of biblical information on it, God does guide how we should and shouldn’t raise money. In three upcoming posts we’ll look at how the New Testament does this. Remember: thinking through these questions isn’t only for those in ministry or leadership. Every Christian has a role to play in raising the much-needed funds for the church and its operations here on earth.
Adapted from God’s Design for the Church: A Guide for African Pastors and Ministry Leaders by Conrad Mbewe, Copyright © 2020, pp. 140-141. Used by permission of Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers, Wheaton, IL 60187. Copies can be purchased at the Book Depository.