Bake Sales, The Devil, Guacamole, and Mission Trips


Vision and creativity are key in fundraising for a mission trip.  Learn how to make both of these things easy to manage!

Disclaimer: This article does slam bake sales.  So if you, your family, your church, or the baked goods that are sold in the bake sale get offended, I do not apologize. 

When you embark on the sacred, yet initially overwhelming, journey of planning mission trips; there is this one phrase that will make you rip your hair out until you look like a modern day Mr. Clean.  We all know the phrase. It is the phrase that if it were an inanimate object, you would attach an anchor to it, throw it off a cliff and then pray that a hole would form in the center of the ocean to swallow it up. The phrase is commonplace among students (I’m not talking about “yo man, you see her twerking”), parents, and senior pastors.  It is a phrase that makes youth pastors and youth leaders cringe; especially after having a vision to take your young people on a mission trip.  Are you ready for the phrase?  I hope you can handle it.  The dreaded phrase is …… “THAT IS TOO MUCH MONEY.  I CAN’T AFFORD THAT.”

Before we get into ways to eliminate that phrase; we need to address a very simple fact.  Whether your trip is $10 or $1,800, there will always be people that complain about the price of the trip.  These people will spend $4.25 for a Trenta Valencia Orange Refresher from Starbucks (okay, so I may actually be drinking one while writing this), but when it comes to funding any type of trip; they will complain about how much it costs. These students that complain a trip is too expensive are the same students that will buy the latest shoes or stand in line at midnight to be the first to get a PlayStation 4(Now granted, I will also be in line at GameStop with all of the other world class nerds waiting for the legendary PS4).  But, the fact is simple no matter the trip; money will always be an issue. It is important to note that there are those that legitimately cannot afford $10 due to financial circumstances and it is obligation to be generous and help these people with the blessings that God has given us.

 Vision is Key to Planning a Mission Trip

So now the question becomes, how in the world do we help with raising money and fixing the money gap?  I want to give you a piece of leadership advice that if you put into practice, the money issues, squabbling over money or fundraising will take care of themselves.  I also want to share three super easy ways to help your young people raise the money necessary for the mission trip God has placed on your heart.

My Leadership advice boils down to one simple word: VISION.  The Bible makes it clear that vision is imperative.  It says that without vision, people perish.  Without vision, who can run successfully?  Before you announce your mission trips make sure that you have a clear vision and be deliberate in what you communicate to about the trip.  Think about the difference in the following two statements:

  1. We are so excited to announce that we are taking our youth to a mission trip to the inner city of New York (or any other destination, international or domestic) for a week-long trip!  For only $300, your youth can join us!
  2. We are so excited that our youth are putting their faith into practical action by going to the inner city of New York to help make Jesus Famous in the lives of people in need.

The first statement makes it seem like you will be going on a vacation and calling it a mission trip. The second statement has a compelling vision and gives a sense of the eternal impact for both the students and the people that will be reached.  PEOPLE WILL ALWAYS GIVE TO VISION BECAUSE THEY KNOW THEIR MONEY IS GOING TO THE PURPOSES OF THE KINGDOM, SOMETHING BIGGER THAN THEMSELVES.  Always have a clear vision, and watch how God will help you to fulfill that vision.

Once you have vision, it is time to help raise the money.  Here are three things that from my experience as a youth pastor have worked for ministries.  These three things are incredibly easy things to do.

The ABC’s of Easy Fundraising for Your Mission

The first fundraising idea is to provide a date night for the people of your church.  Open the doors and offer a fun evening for the children of your church.  Allow the parents to drop their children off for 2-4 hours, and have your youth run the night.  This is a win-win situation. Parents are busy and very rarely have an opportunity to spend and evening without the children.  It gives them an opportunity to bond and strengthen their marriage; while at the same time allowing your youth to raise funds for their trip.  When parents drop off their children, make sure that you do not have a set price for the childcare, but rather have them give donations for the mission trip.  Remember, people will give to vision.  Why set limits on what God can do by naming a price?  Allow God to speak to the hearts of the people.  Some people will give nothing because they are facing hardships that make it difficult to afford childcare; but you will still be helping to minister to their marriage.  Other people will be pleased with the help and with the vision that they will pull out the checkbooks and donate.

The second way to raise money is to have an auction.  By auction, I do not mean selling your grandparents dirty, worn underwear to the top bidder.  I mean auctioning off your youth for work.  People will give to vision, especially when they see the young people working hard for them.  Have up for auction services such as mowing the lawn, painting a house, helping people move, or whatever else comes to mind.  Bring your congregation together, share the vision of the mission trip, share your youths desire to serve and then watch the auction happen.  I have seen people pay up to $925 for someone to mow their lawn.  Why?  It is because they wanted to give to something that is eternal and bigger than themselves.

The last idea for raising those much needed funds is to have a bake sale.  People are hungry after church, which is why restaurants do some of their best business right after church.  I know what you are thinking… a bake sale? This is where my disclaimer comes into play.  There are two things that I believe were created by the devil; well actually there are four, but I don’t want to say the Pittsburgh Steelers or Michigan Wolverines for fear of ruining relationships.  Those two things that should be banished from existence are guacamole; you know the stuff is disgusting to look at and taste like…. You fill in the blank, and bake sales.  Many churches believe bake sales are the sacred item that must always happen; but most times they do not work.  Stop wasting your time on bake sales.  Society is changing to focus on fitness, healthy living, and clean eating.  Bake sales go against this trend.  They have died, been buried, and should not be resurrected.   Instead of a “Bake Sale”, try selling fruit smoothies, or hoagies.  A 20 ounce fruit smoothie can be made for less than 50 cents and can be sold for as much a $2.  An 8 inch hoagie with ham, turkey, provolone cheese, veggies, and mustard can be made for roughly $1 and sold for as much as $5.  Your hungry congregation will hear about your vision and also get some lunch to satisfy their hunger.

Just remember, if God put it on your heart to go on a mission trip; all you need is your vision and some creative fund raising, and you can easily get rid of the money issue from the trip.  I am praying with you and believing for amazing mission trips.  It is an honor and a privilege to help make Jesus famous in this world with you.

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