Car Washes, Bake Sales, and Youth Groups

I’m going to share a pet peeve of mine. Really it’s more than that, it’s a conviction. I have talked with several people over the last few weeks from several different area churches who are facing this problem. Why do churches insist that youth groups sell candy bars, do bake sells, have spaghetti dinners, do car washes, and practically beg for money. On the other hand, how many senior citizen groups in the church have to hold a car wash to raise money for their activities. Or how many people in music ministries have to raise all their own funds.

The sad fact of the matter is that most churches have a double standard when it comes to supporting ministries within the church. As long as the activities of those who give are fully funded, then everyone is happy. And more times than not, children and youth are forced to raise their own support. I know the argument that they need to learn the value of work. But is the purpose of the church to teach the value of hard work, or is it to reach people for Christ and lead them to be disciples? I also know that leaders can have a good time with youth relationally during fund raising activities. But the time spent organizing and preparing the activities is where I have the biggest problem.

When you consider the fact that your adult teachers and leaders have a finite amount of time to spend with youth, I hope you would agree that there are more productive activities than planning fund raisers. I want our leaders to spend time with the kids and youth. Do things like go to their school activities and games, take them out to lunch, or send emails and give them a call to check on them.

I don’t have to dig to far into statistics to prove that the best chance churches have at reaching people for Christ happens before they turn 18. I firmly believe that children’s and youth ministry should be a top priority for every single church. How does your church budget look? Where is the money being spent? Do you believe that youth and children should have the best? Or should they get the leftovers? Grandparents and parents would sacrifice their lives to save their children or grandchildren, but many won’t sacrifice their pet projects and ministries at the church so that children can be introduced to Christ. This should not be so!

So I’ve been on my soapbox long enough, what should a church do if the money is simply not there? First evaluate your current budget and priorities. Are there places that you are spending and not seeing life change? What needs to be cut? This is where it is tough being a leader. Second, ASK for it. I have been amazed in the past when our youth were going on trips and we simply asked the individuals in the church to support us. I would share the vision for what we were doing and ask the members of the church to give as they feel led. I have seen individuals give thousands of dollars toward mission trips, I have seen companies make large donations, and most importantly, I have seen our “needs” met every single time. And the parents love not having yet another fund-raiser to do.

And finally, there is a moral consideration to this. I don’t believe in going outside of the church to ask for money to do God’s work. The church should support it’s activities and ministries, and it starts with our children. That’s my conviction, and I’m sticking to it!


I am a former design engineer who now pastors Cornerstone Community Church in Galax, Virginia. I'm passionate about following Jesus and I love technology. I've been married to Jennifer for 28 years, and we have three adult children.

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