Living, working and ministering in a small church, surrounded by disadvantaged communities with a high level of deprivation, it almost goes without saying that we are not flush with resources, especially financial resources. I’m sure many churches can identify with our situation, even those in more affluent communities. We’d all love to have endless levels of finance to reach out in all kinds of ways but this just isn’t realistic. So, how can we work with what we have to fulfil Jesus’ commission to ‘go into all the world’? (Mark 16:15).
When we hold a church event we want people to see the church in action, loving, serving and blessing those around them. We want them to experience the grace, love and welcome of God through his people and to have an opportunity to hear the life changing message of the gospel and for them to turn from their sin and trust in Christ.
Can we achieve this without spending lots of money? The answer is yes because our greatest and most powerful resource is not money, but people. In eternity, it won’t be how much our event cost that matters but how well it displayed our God to a watching world.
Here are a couple of things to think about when planning a community event on a budget.
Focus on what you have, not what you don’t have
What is your budget and how can you best stretch this to bless those whom you may welcome into your church? My first event for my Christians Against Poverty (CAP) clients after the lockdowns of Covid was a quiz night. The quiz cost nothing and we served hot dogs and doughnuts. Around 25 people had a great evening at the cost of not much more than a tenner! A community Christmas fair with stalls full of second-hand donations may take a bit of work to organise, but it doesn’t have to cost much. Children will be just as entertained playing games with a borrowed parachute as they would with a hired bouncy castle.
Remember that little boy who brought his packed lunch to Jesus? Who would have thought he would be used in feeding thousands of people? Let’s cling on to the fact that we serve a God who can truly do more than we can imagine with even the most meagre of resources that we can bring to the table.
Ask what gifts and abilities you have at your disposal
It’s the people in our church who are our greatest resource. In churches up and down the country there may be gifts, abilities and talents that are going completely unused. Who is there in your congregation who could contribute to putting on an event? Cooking, serving with a smile, organising a quiz, musical or entertainment gifts. Working together in the church demonstrates our love for each other and for the world.
Tap into outside resources
Keep your eyes open for help and support from different places. You may be surprised how God provides from sources you would never have imagined. If you don’t ask then you don’t get, so be willing to ask! Many local councils have grants available for community events and projects, supermarkets, shops and cafes might be willing to help serve local people, especially the disadvantaged. Other churches in your area, potentially with greater resources, could help you put on an event.
We mustn’t take advantage of people’s generosity. Some entertainers, musicians, caterers and the like will depend on events for their livelihood so they don’t need cheeky churches leaning on them to provide everything for free. Don’t be afraid to accept generosity when it comes your way but it is always preferable to pay for what you receive, remembering ‘the worker is worthy of his wages’ (1 Tim. 5:18).
Let’s not allow a lack of resources to put us off doing what we can to reach a lost world for Christ. Don’t be ashamed with the little you have, knowing that we have a God who can ‘do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think’ (Eph. 3:20).