Challenging believers in Jesus to think and act based on Bible truth.

Think and Act 3.26.14 – Why I Dislike Offerings At Large Christian Events

Maybe you never thought you’d meet a pastor who didn’t like an offering. (Insert rim shot sound effect here.)

Read the following sentence carefully – it will help you understand where I’m coming from. I write tonight out of frustration for something that happens with the best of intentions but often the cloudiest of execution. Please keep this in mind before you become critical of my criticism.

Over the years of attending Winter Jam concerts, youth events, and other Christian gatherings, I am troubled by the practice of taking an offering, often after a hefty admission price has already been paid. The offerings are not usually advertised to go toward the expenses of the event; rather, they are usually focused on a ministry or a cause. It seems like it is very difficult to go to a Christian event anymore that does not take some sort of offering.

Let me outline a couple of concerns. I’ll sort out the Biblical concerns and then throw in a couple personal preferences.

Biblical concerns about taking offerings at larger Christian events:

1. It has been my experience that the local church is RARELY affirmed as a key place of giving in the life of a Christian.

The Bible clearly sets out the idea of giving to support the ministry of a local group of believers under committed leadership and in the context of committed membership. I won’t say I’ve never heard the local church affirmed, but the fact that it is rarely mentioned (even if it is not intentional) really serves to undercut the sacrifices of committed Christians in local churches.

2. These offerings often diminish the gospel.

This is a bold claim. Let me explain. I was at a concert Sunday night and a 10 minute presentation was made for why I should give money to support a child through a certain ministry. At NO POINT in the evening was a gospel message proclaimed. To me this is downright offensive. Giving should always be a fruit of the gospel, and to skip the part about our salvation is really shallow. It gives immature Christians or casual onlookers the idea that being righteous is something you can do by giving money. Obviously, this is not true.

Some events (such as Winter Jam) give the gospel AND they make a challenge to support ministries benefitting the poor. Let me openly ask what the results would be if we simply timed the two presentations?

3. Guilt is often used.

If they simply made opportunities known and said “go visit this area of the arena for more information” then I’d be perfectly fine with it. The Biblical rub comes when the presenters representing these ministries step near the line of taking the place of the Spirit in bringing conviction. The last Winter Jam I was at they came very close to saying you’re not a Christian if you don’t support orphans. The Bible says I’m not a Christian if I remain in sin and reject the truth of Jesus Christ. Big difference.

Listen, I’m not opposed to helping the poor, caring about orphans, widows, etc. I have a lot of joy in Jesus and works flow from my heart because of my salvation. I simply wish these offerings matched the Biblical pattern (Ephesians 2:8-10).

Personal preference issues with these types of offerings.

1. I think they should give clearer instructions.

They should tell people NOT to give out of emotion or make a commitment they’ll regret. I’m a bit bothered that these pleas are emotional, and they’re in the context of, well, an emotional event. Do we trust God to provide for the needs of ministries or are tactics like this something we should resort to? I think some thought should go into this.

And, if at a predominantly youth event, they should make every option to go to a website and support the organization with their family rather than giving food money then begging their leaders later because they’re hungry. This is NOT a joke. I’ve seen it happen and heard too many stories to be joking.

2. Why can’t I just spend entertainment money for entertainment?

When I pay $20, $25, or more to go to a concert, why can’t I just be entertained? I’m sure there’s great temptation to get the word out at a large event. That’s great. Just set the ministries (or other businesses) up in the concourse next to the nachos and let people interact with them at tables.

In fact, I’d be glad to pay the extra $5 in my ticket price to support certain ministries if I didn’t have to be guilted. Just be up front that part of the price includes a donation to Ministry X. Or, why have promoters not been creative enough to let people add an offering onto the price of the ticket at purchase? For crying out loud they add enough on in “convenience” and “handling” charges to price of a ticket. It would be way better if I could add a few bucks to go to something meaningful!

Think. Are these events the right place of these types of offerings? Is this the right approach?

Act. I’ve pointed out some frustrations here. The sad part is I don’t have too many suggestions. Maybe I should write a couple promoters, radio stations, etc. and get a conversation going!

 

Comments

  1. Kevin, I love the way you communicate with such clarity & conviction. And I avoid alliteration always 🙂 … seriously, good stuff brother! Thanks for these thoughts. Any kind of “bait & switch” is disturbing at best / disgusting at worst. It should be made known before anyone walks in the door that there will be an opportunity (NOT an expectation) to give especially if there’s already an admission fee. And when the time comes, it should be shared, not shoved. Again, great article.

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