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In most churches, it is considered normal for members to pay their own way for retreats and other events. At least, the vast majority of the time, these are considered to be ‘extra’ events rather than efforts directly supported by the church.
But perhaps churches should consider financially planning for these events, setting aside a portion of the church budget to take care of their members. There is a multitude of benefits that might result from this, but here are just a few:
1. It will encourage attendance.
It’s simple economics: people are more likely to go to an event if it’s free or at a reduced price. In fact, there might be many in your church who would like to attend a retreat, but simply can’t afford it. Most retreat planners find that the biggest issue when it comes to attracting attendees is the cost barrier. If the cost is covered, though, more people will be able to come and experience all that God has in store for your retreat.
2. It will encourage the attendees.
To know that you are loved by the church is one thing; to feel loved by the church is another. Often, throughout the year, we can become almost distant from our church; we tend to see it as just another place we go to rather than a unified body that cares for its own.
Every once and awhile, we could use a reminder that the love that the church professes is not artificial or contrived, but completely genuine and Christ-like. Financial assistance is just one way for the church to show that it truly does care for its members. While the church shouldn’t be expected to hand out money on a regular basis, a little more generosity during retreat season can go a long way when it comes to encouragement.
3. It will reflect a fruitful use of tithes and offerings.
Giving financially to the church is something that’s clearly commanded in the Bible, and it’s something that has become a weekly tradition in most churches. Although tithing is a responsibility of every Christian, it can sometimes be a blessing to see where, exactly, that money goes.
By putting church-wide donations toward events like these, the church can show its members that the money they have contributed truly benefits both themselves and others. It encourages them to keep on giving and praying for their tithes and offerings to bless the body of Christ, as well as the lost whom we seek to reach.
Even if a church can’t pay for every single member to go, it may consider covering a portion of each person’s registration fee. And if that isn’t feasible, either, it may consider putting together “scholarships” or other monetary packages for those with great financial need in the church. All in all, if the church has any money to spare, it would be very well-spent on this particular effort.