Church Fellowship Budget

Decades ago many churches decided that they would be intentional about church fellowship, so they created the Wednesday night supper followed by the mid-week Bible study and children’s programs. This system worked well till about the mid-1990s. For the past several years, this form of fellowship has encountered many problems, and increasingly churches are finding it hard to continue this programming. Some churches are overly wedded to the Wednesday night supper and view that time as the most important fellowship activity in the life of a church.


Fellowship is critically important to a church. I wholeheartedly believe in and appreciate fellowship times. Many, if not most, church fellowships involve people coming to the church for a food function. I’ve been blessed countless times with Pot-Luck Suppers, Dinners on the Grounds, etc. But I want to challenge the church of the 21st century to think outside the box regarding fellowship. In fact, I want to challenge the church to think outside its four walls and into its community.


The purpose of fellowship is for church folks to get to know each other in venues and activities outside of Sunday worship and Sunday School. This is an opportunity for people to talk about football, children, work, etc. in a “non-churchy” setting. This is a time for people to get more closely acquainted, to hear one another’s heart concerns, to laugh uproariously at stories and jokes, to make memories which will be recalled in years to come, and just to enjoy being with each other.


I realize that Wednesday suppers are a good attempt at accomplishing this goal, but frankly they don’t reach their intended goal. Here is an alternative: planning family-oriented events which are held outside the church grounds at least on a quarterly basis.


Three to six times a year, the fellowship committee of the church can use its budget to find, promote, and schedule events which put the church members into their community. For instance, the church will attend a baseball game together, have a bowling night, have a picnic in a local park with inflatables, or plan a weekend retreat at a beach or mountain locale, etc.


The idea is to involve the church in its own community and to be identified as a church. Too often the community sees the church as the people who attend and stay inside the building at a specific address. We all know that the church is not a building; it is the people, and they must be integrated into their community. Jesus himself spent a lot more time wandering around villages and cities than he did inside a synagogue. Jesus knew the value of being out and about instead of in and within.


How will this affect the Wednesday fellowship and activities? That is for each church to decide. I think many will decide that those funds could be better used to fund these events outside the walls of the church. If a church will conduct a study on how best to use their limited financial resources, they may determine that there is greater impact on their neighbors by having fewer but more significant events outside the church’s buildings. Will this affect current age-level programming on Wednesday evenings? Yes, and this is an opportunity for the church to be creative: to decide if it should change its age-level programming, to think about new dates and times to implement new opportunities, to “think outside the box” in ways that will help the church reach its community with the Good News of Jesus. Doing the same thing again and again isn’t reaching our world very well; in fact, it’s often not even reaching our own members very well.


Think creatively – after all, we are made in the image of the Creator, our incredibly imaginative God!


Lead On!