Church Fund Raising - Biblical Principles
Church Fund Raising - Does God Need Our Money?
Church fund raising may seem paradoxical. After all, if the Church belongs to the omnipotent God of the universe, why would it have any need? Yet the fact remains that many legitimate Christian ministries are in need of financial support. And what about the controversy surrounding ministries that have extorted millions from non-suspecting givers? What are we to make of these shameful acts? This article will briefly explore some Biblical guidelines for fundraising, and discuss how they apply to the individual Christian.
Church Fund Raising - A Biblical Case Study?
Church fund raising may refer to a wide gamut of things. In our 21st century world of radio slogans, TV images, and televangelists that tug (and sometimes manipulate) at our hearts to pledge our support, it may seem confusing at times to know when it is appropriate to give and how much. Thankfully, God has shown us through His Word an example of proper "church fund raising."
We find the first instance of fundraising in the early church at Acts 11:29-30. The Jerusalem Church had fallen into dire financial straits and was thus made the focus of a special relief project. The reason for the church's impoverished state is traced back to its birth. The original church was mainly comprised of Jews and Jewish pilgrims that traveled from all around the Roman Empire to celebrate Pentecost in Jerusalem. Recorded in Acts 2, these Jewish "Christians" were among the 3,000 that miraculously became followers of Christ at one time. They stayed and formed the first congregation of believers in Jerusalem. Their acceptance of Jesus Christ as Messiah brought shame, persecution, and rejection from other Jews. Unable to make a living, these Jewish converts relied on one another for housing and resources. The believers of the Jerusalem church were true givers. Knowing that everything they had belonged to God, these believers sold all they had in order to help one another.
"And all that believed were together, and had all things common; and sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need" (Acts 2:44-45).
Their love and generosity sustained the church, but soon all their land and possessions were used up. The Jerusalem church was now in real need of help. To that end, Paul made the Jerusalem church the focus of a special relief project. A collection was made from all the other churches throughout the Mediterranean region. Paul's letter to the Corinthians gives us some insight into proper church fund raising.
"Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given orders to the churches of Galatia, so you must do also: On the first day of the week let each one of you lay something aside, storing up as he may prosper, that there be no collections when I come. And when I come, whomever you approve by your letters I will send to bear your gift to Jerusalem. But if it is fitting that I go also, they will go with me" (1 Corinthians 16:1-4).
Church Fund Raising - The Biblical Principles
From Paul's letters we see that "fundraising" is not only legitimate for the church, but it's also a corporate undertaking. Paul says "let everyone" contribute. Once a true need arises, it is part of every believer's responsibility to help. Poverty does not exempt a believer from giving. As revealed by the poor widow who gave her two "insignificant" coins, it's the heart that God is concerned about, not the amount (see Mark 12:40-44).
Paul further answers the question "How much do we give?" Believers should give "as God has prospered him." The Bible does not command believers to give a fixed amount; rather, it is up to us to decide how much. What matters most to God is that we give with a genuine cheerful heart (see 2 Corinthians 9:7).
We also learn that it's fitting for believers to save up so that they are able to give. Paul tells the Corinthians to "lay by him in store" on a weekly basis. Giving involves planning and sacrifice; personal wants must be put aside. We give to God what is valuable, not what's left after we have fulfilled our own wants and desires. Furthermore, Paul adds that when money is involved, it is the congregation's responsibility to "approve" of trustworthy men to be in charge of overseeing the funds. Acts 6:2-3 also highlights the importance of electing Godly men to oversee money collection in the church.
The call to help the church in Jerusalem was made specifically towards believers. Though not explicitly stated, one can infer that church fund raising is restricted to the church. Many legitimate teachers may disagree on this point. However, asking non-believers for money seems very stumbling. Finally, we read that believers have a responsibility to commit to supporting a fundraising effort to completion. In another passage, Paul encourages the Corinthian church to remember the commitment they made and to follow it through to completion (see 2 Corinthians 8:11).
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