“When I win the lottery, I’m going to build that new sanctuary we have always talked about.” “When I win it big, we will finally get that new industrial kitchen.” “When my ticket is called, this church will be set for life!”
Ever hear that phrase? I have heard it at about every church I have pastored. It tells what we truly trust in. It is telling where people’s ‘expendable’ money goes to. It tells me we put more trust in gambling to support inflated government budgets then you do the local church.
Reality is if they gave that money to the church the church would get those improvements much faster then hoping they win the lottery.
Quick math: 1/4 of your 100 person congregation plays the Powerball once a week ($2 per ticket). For the next ten years they promise to give that money to the church building fund instead (which is kept in our conference foundation earning 1.5% interest). The chances are 100% that at the end of that 10 years the church will have just over $28,000 more in the building fund.
Another 1/4 of the congregation still plays the lottery once a week. They purchase the Powerball ticket and will give the church 10% of whatever they win. After ten years no one wins because the chances of wining are 1 in 175 million. There is actually better chance of getting bit by a shark in the open ocean 175 times then winning. At the end of the ten years the church has $0 in their building fund.
Please explain which is the better option for the future of the church?
Sure, $28,000 isn’t much for ten years of giving BUT it is more than $0. This is a much better way to ‘fund’ the church than purchasing lottery tickets.
Below is a great piece John Oliver did on his show about state Lotteries. PAY ATTENTION NORTH CAROLINA!!! Yes, 3.5 billion dollars has been raised for our educational system in the last 8 years through the lottery. But that isn’t 3.5 billion more dollars, that is simply 3.5 billion the state government can put somewhere else. Yet the NC school system is actually worse off then it was eight years ago. (according to John Oliver’s video below around the 11:25 mark)
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These dots aren’t lining up.
One last point before I jump off my soapbox. I usually hear the above statements from some of the most tax adversed people. Those who complain about the government and taking their money via property tax, sales tax, or state and federal income taxes. IRONIC because the lottery, as Dave Ramsey would call it, is a “stupidity tax.”
If you think this is a liberal or conservative take on things…it’s not. Both sides echo the same point. here is a conservative view from Dave Ramsey. Below is a more liberal point of view from John Oliver. (video does include bleeped language and middle fingers…you have been warned)
To sum up…if you want the God-size dreams to happen in your local congregation, then giver generously and you can do so by first STOP PLAYING THE LOTTERY AND GIVE TO YOUR LOCAL CHURCH.