We live in the age of the crowd. Need a lot of people to help with an idea or project? Try crowdsourcing. Need to raise money for yourself or an organization? Use an online crowdfunding platform.
Merriam-Webster defines crowdfunding as “the practice of obtaining needed funding (as for a new business) by soliciting contributions from a large number of people especially from the online community.” While the term crowdfunding may be new, the concept is not.
The New Testament church in Acts knew firsthand what it meant to provide necessary funding for those in need: “Now all the believers were together and held all things in common. They sold their possessions and property and distributed the proceeds to all, as any had need.” (Acts 2:44-45)
What does this have to do with kids ministry? Almost daily, our kids and their families are asked to give to various causes. The Internet has provided well-meaning, as well as unscrupulous, individuals an easy entry into our wallets. Door-to-door solicitation and plastic collection jars at the cash register are being replaced by online GoFundMe® campaigns. Some of these fundraising efforts are legitimate, others are not.
Nothing is inherently wrong with GoFundMe® and other crowdfunding mechanisms. They definitely have been used for good. The question for us, however, is, “How can we teach kids about godly financial stewardship, regardless of the manner in which funds are collected?” Consider guiding kids to learn these biblical principles:
- The church is responsible for its impoverished members. (See Acts 6:1-7.)
- Giving is a voluntary and cheerful privilege. (See 2 Corinthians 9:7.)
- A sense of entitlement does not glorify God. (See Philippians 4:10-20.)
- If we can work, we should work. (See Proverbs 6:6-11.)
God’s plan for caring for the physical needs of Jesus’ followers in the New Testament was simple. Those in the church who had financial resources were to share them with believers who needed help. Those who chose to follow their own plan faced dire consequences. Just ask Ananias and Sapphira. This husband and wife duo sold some property, decided to keep some for themselves rather than share with fellow church members, and collaborated a lie about their offering. As a result, Ananias and Sapphire both “dropped dead” because they dishonored God. (See Acts 5:1-11.)
Crowdfunding worked for the fledgling church when its members glorified God with their gifts. And, why did most of them give cheerfully? Because God gave the ultimate gift of His Son, Jesus Christ. Isn’t that what we want kids to learn and practice? If this generation of kids learns to give in response to God’s amazing love and not out of guilt or a sense of obligation, then who knows, maybe we won’t need secular crowdfunding.
Landry Holmes is the Manager of Lifeway Kids Ministry Publishing, Nashville, TN. A graduate of Howard Payne University and Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Landry served on church staffs before coming to Lifeway. He is a church leader, writer, workshop facilitator, and publisher. Landry also teaches children at his church in Middle Tennessee. He and his wife Janetta are the grandparents of two adorable grandbabies.