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Critique of the Ways to Finance Evangelization

When you read the articles on evangelism or evangelization on paper and in the Internet you are given the impression that this work is not done effectively or not done at all. Time and again writers say that this is the most important work of the Church and yet it is the most neglected work of all.

A reason for this is that people give to this work only what they can spare extra after their personal, family and social needs are taken care of.

Today I present the ways to finance evangelization and make a critique of each one of them. In this way I hope to elaborate on my answer to the question why evangelism is the most neglected work of the churches.

1. The Way of Almsgiving

This is the usual way of supporting any church activity, including evangelism or evangelization. (Note on the usage of these two terms: Evangelism is the term preferred by non-Catholic western Christians, like the Protestant groups. Evangelization is the term preferred by Catholics. Some see different meanings in these words. I would say that the basic meaning is the same: announcing the good news of salvation to those who have not yet appropriated personally its meaning.)

The way of almsgiving is giving some amount to the collection plate or bag or basket as it is being passed around in church. Some give much, others give little, still others give none. Some people give a sizable amount if they thought the sermon was a very good one. If the sermon did not move them at all they would give only a little or none at all.

My Critique: This is the least effective way of financially supporting evangelism. It is up to the whims of the church goers how much they are going to give. Furthermore only a very small portion of the collection is spent on direct evangelism. Most of the amount is for the upkeep of the church and its ministers.

2. The Way of Special Funding

The church puts up a special second collection, or a bingo, or a dinner for a cause or a raffle or whatever gimmick. This is all to raise funds for a church activity, including evangelization or missions.

Critique: This way raises some sizable amount but it is seasonal. After the special funding is over and the amount raised is spent on the project the church is back to zero for its projects. This generates a good amount but it is temporary. Evangelism however is not a temporary work of the church. It is its perennial business. In fact it is the business most worthy of supporting.

3. The Way of Tithing

This is giving ten percent to the support of the church, its ministers and its activities. Some churches monitor their members whether 10 percent is really given to them; others leave it to the good will of the members, encouraging them to give the full ten percent. Some churches even warn their members that not giving the full ten percent is stealing from God because this portion does not belong to them but to God himself. Some church members give more than 10 percent.

Critique: This way does generate a good amount of money which comes in regularly and is less dependent on the satisfaction of the listeners to the ministers’ sermon. But still I notice that even the collected tithes are never enough for funding the activities the church wants to do. There are other collections made.

4. The Way of Donations

This includes love gifts, bequests by church members, endowment funds, etc.

Critique: This generates a good amount but it is totally dependent on the good will of the donor and on the ability of the church personnel to convince donors to give donations. They cannot be relied upon regularly.

5. The Way of Investments

Some churches do invest funds. Some even have people in the stock market trading stocks and securities.

Critique: This is akin to gambling. The churches doing this can go into debts and more debts.

There are other ways perhaps that I have not mentioned. But the general critique of all these ways is that they are not ways with the express purpose of providing constant funding for evangelism.

Jesus said, For where your heart is, there will your treasure be also. Our heart is not really in evangelism because we do not put our treasure there. We put it to supply our personal, family and social needs first, and evangelism only second or last.

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