Is Church Fund-Raising Ok?

cleansing temple 3

Q. My church has a lot of fund-raising activities around Christmas, setting up tables to sell crafts, food etc. for various mission and charitable organizations. Somehow it reminds me of Jesus cleansing the temple. What’s your opinion?

A. The Gospels recorded Jesus cleansing the temple twice, one at the beginning and the other at the end of His public ministry:

Jn 2:14-16 In the temple courts he found people selling cattle, sheep and doves, and others sitting at tables exchanging money. So he made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple courts, both sheep and cattle; he scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. To those who sold doves he said, “Get these out of here! Stop turning my Father’s house into a market!”
• Mk 11:15-17 On reaching Jerusalem, Jesus entered the temple courts and began driving out those who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves, and would not allow anyone to carry merchandise through the temple courts. And as he taught them, he said, “Is it not written: ‘My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations’? But you have made it ‘a den of robbers.’”
(See also Mt 21:12-13; Lk 19:45-36)

Although the text did not use the word “angry” or its synonyms, it is clear from His actions that those were was His feeling. Yet I think your church’s activities are acceptable within limits, for two reasons:

1. The motives are different. The merchants selling sacrificial animals at inflated prices and the money changers charging high handling fees were gouging the buyers for their own profit. The motivation is greed. Your church members were raising funds for missions and charities, not for themselves. The motive is to help others in need. So there is a huge difference.
2. The frequency and duration are different. The merchants were in the temple courts all the time. It was truly like a market. Your brothers and sisters did fund-raising only around Christmas. They were not conducting business throughout the year.

The caveat is that such activities should not give non-believers a wrong impression that Christians are just like them in not distinguishing between the sacred and the secular. Accordingly the church should clearly explain the purpose of such fund-raising, and limit their scope to acceptable organizations and duration to certain times of the year. Hope this helps.

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