Thursday, May 17, 2007

Why Can't Church Do That?

I've had this one in the back of my mind for a while, but it resurfaced today. Our congregation is having a Yard Sale at the building to support the youth group's summer mission trip. Someone asked me about it, and I can not for the life of me figure out what would be wrong with such an event.

I had spoken to the preacher at my last congregation about it after he mentioned it being wrong in a sermon to have a "church sponsored" yard sale. I asked him, "So if we can't have a church wide 'sanctioned' yard sale, can 5 or 10 familys get together to have a yard sale at someone's home and give that money to the church or a special mission trip fund?" He said, "sure." I said, "so what is the difference with the elders saying, 'we support this; bring your stuff; the teens will do the work and keep the proceeds for the mission trip.'?" The basic answer I got was, "It's just different." Sorry, that's not an answer that's a cop-out. I just can't see a difference, nor can I see a Biblical reason why a "Church santioned" yard sale is wrong?

The only example that I can think that could be remotely related in the Bible is the money changers and animal sales in the temple. And the problem there seems to me that people were lining their own pockets. I do not mean to step on toes (and I don't think it really applies), but this would more closely related to selling Mary Kay or Boy Scout Popcorn at Church.


Charlie said...

I think it's one of those things that, in some people's minds, it "just seems wrong." They can't put their finger on why, or point to a verse to back up their feeling, but there it is, and it's not going to change.

The only "problem" I could see is that (I'm assuming) the yard sale is open to the public; therefore, money comes from outside the congregation. It's the same argument I've heard for not doing bake sales.

If this is a private yard sale, open to members of the congregation only, then it's a different story, I guess. Then the money comes from the members, and goes to the church.

On the other hand, the elders could just ask for a special contribution. Or they could request that on a certain Sunday, mambers indicate on their checks or envelopes or whatever that they want part or all of their contribution to go to the special need in question.

I just had a good debate with myself there, didn't I?

Mat Brewster said...

The other day the little congregation I attend threw down some condemnation on these type things, but I can't remember what the reasons were.

Charlie's asking support from non-members rings a bell, but there may have been something else.

Actually I think part of it was that the church isn't a market place and we are supposed to be out saving souls not making pies of selling crap.

It all does seem kind of weak to me. My youth group did a firecracker stand every year to help go to camp or something.

Sometimes I think some of these arguments come from congregations who don't have these types of problems. Like my congregation has very little youth and they don't really do anything with them. So we can argue that the church shouldn't have yard sale to support the youth, because there isn't any need.

Actually that's a totally different problem, we have four or five youth type people and we don't do a darn thing with them. I've been meaning to do a devo with them or something....and maybe I will.

Jamison said...

Bottom line (I think): No one can find a scriptural reason why it is wrong. But it may offend or cause others to stumble or it may be "sin: to others (RE Paul in his letter to the Romans. So to them, it is sin). We dont want to cause others to go to a church that, int heir mind, sins.

But Chuck, I feel your frustration. Ladies at church will host a jewelry sale or a Pampered Chef sale at the church and no one blinks an eye.

I have even heard (Not from my church, but other more far-right churches) that it is wrong for the church to spend money on those that arent members. Like, no money should go to anyone that is starving other than church members. My argument was that the church should stop paying the water, electric, and gas bills because there are no doubt employees at those places making money from some portion of the church's payments.

Mat Brewster said...

That is quite possibly the stupidest thing I've ever heard. Yeah, the church would go really far if we never did anything for the community.

lilsip said...

Hello? What do these folks think Jesus was doing all those years? Helping only the sick and lame and lost "members of the church"???

bigsip said...


Chris said...

One word: FEAR.
To me there are several fear related reasons why one wouldn't have a yard sale at church:

1 - Fear of what other churches might think.
2 - Fear that some of our better giving members might be upset and hold their giving.
3 - Fear that it might look like we're desperate.

Ultimately, there is fear of what others will think.
My thought, who cares? The only one that matters is Jesus.
I struggle that churches would hold back on something that might actually have kingdom impact.
The issues with sales of animals and the money changers in the temple, wasn't that they were selling things. It was that they were cheating people, and making a mockery out of the covenant God made with Moses, that He as a symbol of His pledge to remember His people would figuratively walk through the blood of the slain lamb at 3:00 each day, and the high priest would blow the shofar as a symbol to remind God's people of the covenant committment between them and God.
The sale of such lambs to those who could barely afford the, at major high prices made Jesus very angry.
Does this have any even remote chance of being similar to a yard sale - I don't think so.

When the curtain was torn in the temple that day at 3:00 when Jesus was killed right there in front of that busy biway it was as much for God to come out among the people. That is what the jews believed, yes it was about the high priest - Jesus who speaks now on our behalf, but ultimately it was about God coming out among His people with a one on one relationship.
The issues for us is that we missed that somewhere and we have compartmentalized all of life, mainly into two categories:
Spiritual and Secular Lives...
The early church didn't see it this way. All of life was God's and for God, if you'd have asked the Levites what they thought about their "spiritual lives" they woud have laughed, probably because they didn't get it.
Where am I going?
Well. What if we saw all of life as spiritual like they did and then just lived every day and moment for God, then we probably wouldn't be so worried about whether or not we should have yard sales and bake sales. Cause whatever we do or did would be rooted solely in a life sold out for the God who wants us to share in life with Him.
Ramble over.

kermitgrn said...

Thanks all for the comments. I knew it couldn't be all black and white. Just too much grey, and some folks just can't handle grey because in their minds it probably should not exist.