9 reasons why churches should apply for lottery funding

9 reasons why churches should apply for lottery funding

So here’s a moral dilemma that I’d like to explore with you. I am trying to explore a theological perspective on whether it is right for a church to apply for and receive lottery funding for its social and community work (it cannot receive funding for worship or evangelistic work). Here are the best arguments I can think of for how a Christian might justify  applying for lottery funding. The counter arguments are here.  The arguments are not necessarily ones I hold to – I am simply trying to build a strong case so that I have fully explored both sides of this debate.

1. The Greater Good Argument

The good that can be done with the lottery money, outweighs the means by which it has been raised.

2. The Gold from Egypt Argument

The gold that the Israelites took from their pagan Egyptian captors when they left was used to build the ark of the covenant and the Tabernacle furniture . So we have a precedent of riches from non-Christian sources can be repurposed for God’s ends.

3. The Cunning as Snakes Argument

Surely taking money to do God’s good work is an example of Jesus injunction to his church to be cunning and wily in their relationship with the world system?

4. The “No Clean Money” Argument

All money is in some ways tainted. All money in circulation has been used for some dodgy purpose somewhere along the lines. So Christians should be realistic about the financial institutions we live with.

5. Meat Offered to Idols Argument

Just as Paul was not worried about the fact that Christians bought meat that was offered to idols (unless it damaged the the conscience of other Christians). Thus the idea that money would go to fund the temple work did not seem to be a problem for Paul.

6. The Redemption Argument

Just as we were sinful and tainted with corruption and God redeemed us so God can repurpose money that had disreputable origins. This argument could also draw on the Nard that was used by a prostitute to anoint Jesus was most likely either a part of her trade or bought with the earnings of her trade. Jesus saw the pure intention that she had for its use in her worship of him and so accepted it.

7. The “It’s Better that Christians use it” argument

If Christians don’t use the lottery funding someone else will, so why would you deliberately hamstring Christian charities from drawing on common resources?

8. All Investment is Gambling Argument

Some ask if there is an intrinsic difference between money generated from gambling on the lottery and money generated from ‘gambling’ on the stop market?

9. Gambling is not intrinsically evil

Games of chance are not necessarily intrinsically evil – Proverbs seems to imply that the game of dice is still under the sovereignty of God.

We may throw the dice, but the Lord determines how they fall.
Proverbs 16:33

 “It would only be right not to take the money for good causes if one felt it was morally tainted; like money for instance, got by fraud. My doubts about the wisdom of the lottery do not amount to that”

Dr John Polkinghorne  who is on the Church of England’s board for social responsibility.

So which do you think are the strongest arguments, which ones are missing?



6 thoughts on “9 reasons why churches should apply for lottery funding

  1. Chris Wooff says:

    10) Not being ‘holier than thou’ argument
    Christians can sometimes do the church a disservice by refusing to accept gifts which they overzealously classify as ill gotten.
    11) The church at the centre of the community argument
    An effective church which exists as a hub within its local community may be better placed to make good use of lottery funds than charities which operate at a distance.

  2. Tom says:

    I think you’re missing the fact that if every member of the church that was able to give a tithe, did tithe, we would have absolutely no need for any lottery money. Ever. Why should we seek to use the money of those who spend it on the lottery when we clearly aren’t prepared to use our own money first?

  3. Rowan says:

    12) Every Sunday we send out a “collection plate” without ever asking where the money comes from. We are happy to assume that it is hard-earned money, but what if it was from lottery winnings? We gladly accept funding if we are comfortably ignorant of its origins.

  4. I served a church that never took an offering… We had no need for money and instead encouraged people to give the traditional tithe to a local charity if they so desired. The discussion is faulty from the start

    1. Rowan says:

      This is an interesting approach. How were the basic costs of the church covered, such as electricity, heating, water?

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