A Gospel Lens For Youth Ministry Fundraising

Image depicts a youth ministry fundraiser at church

I’m going to be honest. I hate fundraising. It’s probably my least favorite aspect of youth ministry. But I think that’s actually why my perspective on fundraising may be helpful for you—especially if you hate fundraising too.

For a long time, I thought I hated fundraising because it’s a lot of work. Fundraising events are no joke if you want to plan them well.

For a long time, I thought I hated fundraising because it reminds me how often churches are under resourced. I’m certain I’m not the only church worker who’s ever thought “you know…if more people in our church actually tithed…”

For a long time, I thought I hated fundraising because I had a bad experience getting yelled at by a neighbor when I went door-to-door as a teenager trying to fundraise for my youth group.

I’m sure all of those are contributing factors to some degree, but the real reason I full-body cringe when I think about fundraising actually has a lot less to do with the workload or effectiveness of fundraising, and a lot more to do with something deficient in my own heart.

For a lot of us, we hate fundraising because we have a poverty mentality around our time, energy, and resources.

 

Fundraising requires doing a lot of leg work and often spending some money on the front end in the hopes that there will be a significant return on that up-front investment. Good, healthy fundraising requires a core belief that there’s plenty to go around. That there’s plenty of time to plan things that are important. That there’s plenty of energy to put into what matters. That there’s plenty of money in our community if we’ll give them something compelling to give to. And that there’s plenty of reasons to trust that God will provide.

Good, healthy fundraising requires an abundance mentality.

 And if you’re anything like me, you have a bit of a hard time with that. But God doesn’t seem to have a hard time with that at all. The gospel is, if nothing else, a story of God’s abundance and willingness to invest in us in order to yield a great return. What God invests in the context of the gospel and what we invest in the context of fundraising events is obviously different, and the return God sees and the return we see is obviously different, but the lens is nonetheless there. God is not stingy with His time, energy, or resources. He gives lavishly, and trusts immensely. And if He does so with us, we have infinitely more reason to give and trust Him.

So, as for the X’s and O’s of creating a fundraising event? I’m not the guy to ask, to be honest. But I do know that it’s entirely possible the real reason you struggle so much with fundraising has less to do with fundraising itself and more to do with the condition of your heart. And this kind of reflective, gospel centered paradigm for youth ministry leadership is helpful in all kinds of areas, not just fundraising.

If you’d like to learn more about how to adopt a gospel lens to address the things in your heart that might be holding you back from effective youth ministry, consider purchasing the book Life Through The Lens Of The Gospel. And if you’d like your students to adopt a gospel lens, consider using our curriculum.

In the meantime, camp and mission trip season is coming. Abundance mentality. We can do this. Let’s go get ‘em!

Mike Haynes is a full-time youth pastor and the creator of G Shades Youth Ministry Curriculum. Feel free to reach out to Mike anytime over email at mike@gshades.org
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