This one caught my eye.  I was rummaging around the internet for church growth / church health ideas and came across Cindy Gregorson’s post on what we are really saying when we do what we do in the conduct of our church meetings.

Her example is the weekly coffee hour at church.  It’s important to hang out with one another, and it’s useful to give people something to do while they’re there.  We tend to use light food, especially for morning events.  Give them a cup of coffee and maybe something to go with it – a sweet roll, a donut, a bagel.  Gives the skittish newcomer something to do and an excuse for not shaking hands if both of them are full.

Cindy was at a conference where Nelson Searcy of the Journey Church in New York City said that ‘If we expect people to be generous in their giving to the church, then the church needs to model that generosity and sense of abundance.”

In other words, a ‘donation basket’  – or worse, charging – undercuts the message of a God who can take care of our needs.  If we add insult to injury, as with Searcy’s example of serving “day-old, halved doughnuts” then we say that either we don’t live in abundance, or that they are not worth spending money on.

Cindy also quoted Rev. Amy Jo Bur, pastor of Good Samaritan United Methodist Church, in St Peter, Minnesota.  Her church offers a catered breakfast of egg bake and giant cinnamon rolls from a local restaurant.  She refused to even consider asking for donations for the refreshments.

In the first place, the donations would not cover the cost. Second, that would send the wrong message. One of their core values is hospitality, and this is one of the ways they live that out. Everyone is welcome at the table.

It’s expensive to run a church, and costs money to set out refreshments.  If the money is an issue, consider whether the event is core to your mission, and if it is, consider the message you want to send in the presentation.  It’s hard to preach generous living if you don’t even live it before the service begins.