Auctioning a sermon for youth ministry

by Kaz Bem


How do you raise additional money for youth ministry? Can you do it by asking money from non-church members?

First Church in Marlborough has an active youth group and confirmation class but like many churches we were looking to raise some additional funds for them. Because I was a lawyer before becoming an ordained minister, I still have many friends in that field - most of whom are not devout church goers. Some are not even Christian at all. So, how could those two worlds possibly come together?

It turns out a Thanksgiving dinner might actually help a lot. While celebrating together, I invited these friends to come up with words that I would then have to use in my sermon. It had to be an actual sermon, and for every word from the list that I used, my friends would make a donation to the Youth Ministry of First Church. The Deacons and the congregation reacted enthusiastically, as did the friends. After some necessary vetting of the suggested phrases, eight friends participated.

A list of words was drawn up and put in the Sunday’s bulletin so the congregation could follow and check. The friends attended, as did the youth. Based on the lectionary’s Gospel reading for that Sunday (January 31), I preached on the gift of the grace of God, using words like “bababooi”, “pink weave”, and “epistolary ruckus.” The service can be viewed here (the sermon begins 0:23:00).
When the service had ended, $650 was collected for the church’s youth group. There has been some interest among the congregation and the generous sponsors for something similar next year. The Youth of First Church were also energized and agreed to be lay leaders and preachers on another Sunday.

To God be the Glory!

Kaz Bem

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