I am well aware that St. Paul raised a collection for the church at Jerusalem. There is no doubt that the collection consisted of money – CA$H, Moola, Dough…. But I am not at all clear that what he did was some form of “fundraiser” but more a collection of contributions. He did not sell stuff. He did not hold a drawing, a raffle, or ask for a suggested donation in exchange for a prize.
On the other hand, I think he basically went around the Roman Empire raising tribute for the Kingdom of God. He was like a Kingdom-of-God counterpart to the hated tax collectors Rome employed and Pharisees despised. I imagine it as a fulfillment of prophecy in Isaiah 60:5. Not that such tribute is a drudgery, but quite the opposite actually – a cheerful subversion of empire! (as per II Cor. 9:7).
Back to my point though, I suspect that fundraising is something different entirely. When and where it is a matter of collecting contributions, I am sure it is not different, but when and where it is a matter of bake sales and raffles, I suspect it is. And I suspect that the fundraising takes on a life of its own, one that actually impedes rather than spreads the Gospel.
Fundraising requires a large measure of focus and energy. Between all the accounting, permits, tax-exemption verifications, advertising, staffing, and “over-head” expenses, the minister has little time and energy left for the ministry all that money is supposed to do. Then there is the near magic way that fundraising seems to enlarge office space, purchase new vehicles, remodel parsonages and impress the media too.
Say you want to sell candy bars for a fund raiser. You sell them at $1 a piece. You had to buy them at half that. This means that if everything else were equal, you would be out half the money you raise right off the top. Factor in all the other elements, and how much of that $1 goes to minister to the needy? How much actually translates into real blankets, hygienes, and cups of soup? Stack that number up against the career launch of the minister who raises it all. Why does the donor need a giant teddy bear prize for their service to God?
Is Jesus the focus? Does it honor him? Did he raise any money? What does he need it for?
I am not prepared to say we need to burn our cash. That is not biblical anymore than fundraising. But I am deeply suspicious of this false god, Mammon. I hate to see ministers/ministries seek Mammon’s blessings.
Thus I ask my questions….