First, we must define what we mean by “church fund-raising.” The Bible is clear that the giving of “offerings” is commanded and blessed by God. God loves a “cheerful giver”—one who gives abundantly out of a heart of love for God (2 Corinthians 2:8-9). Paul provides instruction and a great deal of discussion about giving in 2 Corinthians 8-9. He also shows great appreciation to those who gave to him at various times to enable him to continue his ministry (Philippians 4:14-20). You also find records of generous giving in the early church (Acts 4:32-37). Church fund-raising, then, is something other than the normal giving of a congregation toward the work of the Lord.
If a church does decide to raise additional funds for a specific need through church fund-raising, the following cautions are in order:
• Be honest about what the money is for.
• Avoid excessive profit.
• Don’t allow the fund-raising to communicate to others that God’s people are not being obedient, therefore the church is hitting up unbelievers for money.
• Be sure the congregation understands it is in addition to, not in place of, normal giving.
• Be considerate of those who have convictions against fund-raising – you cannot prove biblically that it is OK, so it could be a doubtful thing for some.
On the other hand, there are benefits to depending upon giving rather than fund-raising: (taken from above passages)
• People learn to give because it is a blessing (actual fruit added to their account), not to get something.
• Depending upon gifts of God’s people allows a ministry to learn to work in the framework of contentedness and obedience.
• It is a clear way to give God glory. Fund-raisers can bring glory to products or personalities.
• Depending upon the giving of God’s people can strengthen our faith.
Alternatives to supplement giving:
• Establish special funds with particular goals. Some people will give to special projects above their regular giving.
• Encourage faith commitments through a banquet (not selling meals – but expressing need – accepting gifts) or other challenges.
• Encourage members to take a certain amount of money and invest it over a particular duration – some might put it in a CD, others might buy ingredients for something and then sell their product; the individuals then would all bring their personal gifts as an offering. This avoids the stigma of the church doing a fund-raiser, incorporates people, and allows them to use a great deal of creativity.
A Scripture account that might be used to discourage church fund-raising would be that of Jesus and the money changers in the temple (Matthew 21:12-13; Mark 11:15-17). Some may conclude that the reason He called it a “den of thieves” was that Jesus was against profit being made off ministry. However, the passage could more easily be understood that He was condemning the dishonest practice of the greedy, hypocritical, and corrupt religious leaders. We also need to take into account that we no longer have temples that involve animal sacrifices; therefore, it would be difficult to compare that ministry to that of the current church model described in Acts and the Epistles.
One should not take lightly the degree of anger expressed by Jesus as He chased the profiteers out; however, it doesn’t necessarily provide a solid proof text against what we consider church fund-raising.