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How to serve ham with a side order of world service

The last congregation I served as pastor was a new church start. I thought because this was a new faith community, we could avoid the "traditional church" pattern of organizing endless fund-raising activities to help balance the church budget.

I did quite well holding off the inevitable until we got into our building. The congregation had waited so long for their own space, and they were excited about the possibility of sponsoring a ham, roast beef or spaghetti dinner and selling tickets.

First I strongly suggested any dinner should benefit a mission project: disaster relief, a local food pantry and things like that. Still, since meeting our budget was clearly a challenge, the pressure to supplement the budget was strong.

Finally, we found a solution that pleased everyone: we would designate money raised from such an activity for one of the apportioned funds that were part of our connectional responsibility. Here were some of the benefits:

  • Our people enjoyed working together to organize the dinners.
  • I had the opportunity to educate my congregation and the community about The United Methodist Church in mission (Black College, Africa University, World Service and so forth) while promoting the event.
  • The event was a big boost toward balancing our operating budget as the connectional ministry shares already were a high priority in our budget.

This idea worked, and it gave me a great way to teach what it means to be a connectional church.

United Methodist Communications can provide you with print and video resources that will help you tell the story of whichever fund(s) you choose to highlight. Plan your event, build excitement, educate your people, help your budget and pique the interest of your community. Most of all, you will be involved in mission work that transforms lives and makes a difference!

The Rev. Ken Sloane is now director of stewardship and generosity at Discipleship Ministries, Nashville, Tennessee, USA.