A few days ago a peddler came by the meetinghouse trying to sell us a carton of flashlights. After telling the man I already had enough flashlights at my house, he suggested that the church "buy a carton for its next raffle." I told him that we do not have raffles, carnivals or bingo games. He then asked, "How on earth do you raise money?" He seemed to think that without some special fund raising activity the church would be destitute. Apparently, this man is not alone. There are many denominations who have the same attitude as this peddler.
The New Testament church raised funds in the manner prescribed by the apostle. "Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given orders to the churches of Galatia, so you must do also: On the first day of the week let each one of you lay something aside, storing up as he may prosper, that there be no collections when I come" (1 Cor. 16:1,2). Christians in the first century gave of their means on the Lord's Day. They did not have to resort to carnivals, church suppers, bingo games or having the teenagers conduct a "Chariot Wash For Christ."
In his second letter to the saints at Corinth, Paul spoke in glowing terms about the brethren in Macedonia. Though they were in "deep poverty" they were willing to give "beyond their ability imploring us with much urgency that we would receive the gift and the fellowship of the ministering to the saints" (2 Cor. 8:3,4). Paul explained how this was possible: they "first gave themselves to the Lord, and then to us by the will of God" (2 Cor. 8:5). It has been my observation that when a person is genuinely converted to Christ, they will not have to be badgered into giving of their means.
The Lord's church in Zion is composed of common people of ordinary means. They freely give of their prosperity each Lord's Day. Without the "benefit" of a church raffle or bingo game they carry on the Lord's work here. They fully support a local preacher (yours truly) and provide a comfortable building in which to assemble. Bulletins, tracts and an enormous amount of other printed material is provided in an effort to spread the word of God. In addition to the local work the brethren here are currently providing support to help men preach in Nigeria, South Africa and the Czech Republic. As we have had opportunity we have helped men in the Philippines, China and some here in the United States. Our financial reserves are limited, so we try to be good stewards of that which has been entrusted to us.
Carnal means appeal to carnal men. If you will only "give" when someone offers you a raffle ticket, you have not been converted to Christ. As brother G.K. Wallace once said, "When the Lord appeals to a man he appeals to his heart. When the devil appeals to a man he appeals to his stomach."