I’m going to suggest something that sounds heretical, but hear me out. Sometimes it makes sense to charge people to hear the gospel. When you are putting on an evangelistic event, in some cases it might be more effective if you charge admission rather than letting people in for nothing.
Charging admission for an event has the potential to do several positive things things. First, it makes a statement about the quality of the event. People tend to associate price with value. Something that doesn’t cost much probably isn’t worth much. Something that costs nothing is probably worth even less. So, when a church invites people to a free concert, magic show, or other event, they naturally tend to assume it will be worth what they’re paying. (And far too often, free church events live up to people’s low expectations, but that’s a subject for another blog post.) Charging admission can help people believe that the event will be worth their time, and actually increase attendance. Of course, of you do charge admission, you better deliver a quality program.
Selling tickets will get you on people’s calendars. People will forget about free events, but if they’ve bought tickets, you can be sure they’ll remember. This is another way charging can increase attendance.
Finally, charging admission can help cover the cost of the event. Obviously profit should not be a primary motive of an outreach event. However, a little extra money coming in can allow you to stretch your budget and do even more outreach.
So, what do you think? Are there times when it makes sense to charge admission to evangelistic events?