Church Sponsorship of Social Activities

Greg Gwin

We regularly receive notices from congregations that describe some upcoming event. Often these are programs planned for specific groups of people, such as the teens, or the women of the church, etc. The advertisement will detail the classes or lectures that are scheduled and identify the speakers who will present the lessons. Our concern is about a note usually found in smaller print near the bottom of the announcement. Here’s an example from an ad we received just the other day: “After the Bible lessons provided by the church, individual members will extend hospitality to our fine young people at _______ Park.”


It seems clear that many of our well meaning brethren think that if the church does not spend any funds for an activity, it therefore proves that the church is not supporting or sponsoring the event. They claim that the church is not involved in that part of the planned activities, even though they have attached their name to it and are advertising it. Those who think so need to think again.


Consider this extreme scenario: Some men decide to enter a team in a beer chugging contest at a local bar. They use their own money to buy tee shirts and have them imprinted with ‘Church of Christ Chugging Champions’. What!?! Absolutely NOT! Even though the participants involved are not even members of the congregation, no one wants the church’s name associated with such an event. Do you see it? Even a reference to such an activity tends to link the church to the action.


Let’s make the circumstances a little more realistic: Some men decide to enter a softball league. They use their own money to buy tee shirts and have them imprinted with ‘Church of Christ Softball Sluggers’. For some reason folks do not want to draw the same conclusion this time, but the end result is the same. By allowing the church’s name to be associated with the action, perhaps even announcing the schedule for the team’s games, etc., the church has become involved. They are promoting the softball team and are truly linked to it by virtue of lending their endorsement as a sign of their support.


Now, back away one step further. Is the previously mentioned church (that is planning an event for young people) really not associated with the ‘fun and games’ at the park that are announced in the flyer they printed and mailed out? Can you see it? The fact that they have promoted that part of the program under the name and banner of the church makes them a sponsor of what is being done. If not, why not?


We understand the importance of planned activities that allow for the social and recreational involvement of the young and old alike. But we also know that it is not the authorized work of the church to provide for such (1 Corinthians 11:22,34). Let’s be careful to truly keep such things in the individual realm where they properly belong. Think!