Thinking Out Loud

February 18, 2011

When Better Isn’t Necessarily Better

Filed under: Church, evangelism — Tags: , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 9:46 am

I live an hour east of Toronto, Canada in a town of about 16,000 which is somewhat twinned to a town of 18,500.  Between the two towns, not a lot happens, especially if we’re talking events of interest to the Christian community.  So when World Vision offered to include our area on its recent “Couples Night Out” tour, it was an offer not to be refused. The event featured Christian author and humorist Phil Callaway who probably spoke for at least an hour, but could have gone longer without anyone noticing.  And all for only $5 per couple.

Phil Callaway

Because Callaway is such a great communicator, the sponsoring local church decided to hold the event in a neutral auditorium, in this case the hotel next door; figuring that this would make it easier for people to invite “their non-churched friends” than having the event in a church building.  I don’t know to what extent people bought into that concept, but the event sold out all 400 seats, and Phil’s spoken content was, in one spot, definitely evangelistic.

Then someone stepped up with an idea to go one better, and use the banquet facilities of the hotel to offer a selection of desserts; a big change from an intermission that would, at best, consist of drinking coffee in a chuch lobby.  The dessert buffet was a gigantic and unexpected spread; even at 9:00 PM, I could have skipped dinner and simply waited for this.

It was a great evening, which also featured Jay Calder, who I can’t describe except to say that “classical guitarist” is too limiting to define what he does with the instrument.

But there was one catch. I mean, if you read this blog regularly, you knew there has to be a catch, right?

The intermission is the time for responding to the World Vision appeal for child sponsorships. That is the primary purpose of the evening. And the organizers were “disappointed” in the results at this particular event.

That’s because during the time we were supposed to be thinking about our response to the needs of hungry children, we were filling our stomachs with — among other things — chocolate dipped strawberries, bread pudding and banana crepes.

While I’m not a huge fan of the organization, I keep thinking that we went home full while World Vision came up empty.

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5 Comments »

  1. I saw the advert – in the Christian Herald nespaper I think – and thought that would be a fun event to go to. I did not realize there was this other side to it. Seems a poor fit – romance, love and fun, and food! and the kids in regions beset by poverty.
    World Vision needs to be a bit more upfront with their participation. Wonder what their response rate is. Maybe they’ll do better on other parts of the tour, and it will all balance out.

    Comment by Brian — February 18, 2011 @ 1:34 pm

  2. Decades ago, I got a phone call from World Vision asking for a list of all the local soloists and musical groups in my area. I said, “Why do you need this information? You’re a third-world relief agency.”

    Of course, this was the beginnings of their “artist program” and they were trying to attract both nationally recognized singers and those working at the local level.

    They are always able to justify that their ministry is also to the local church and to North America as well; I believe Neighborlink is a WV initiative, too. Of course all these things increase their costs of fundraising.

    This event WAS a ministry to our local community. I don’t think it would have happened without the participation of national sponsors. And having done a book table at Girls Night Out, I think the fit does actually work; but it’s a long and expensive way to go to pick up a dozen or so sponsors in a single evening.

    For the record, I explained to people who asked us as they purchased tickets that this evening would have a brief appeal for child sponsorships. I hope the rest of the tour did better and that they learned something from this event.

    I should also say, in case this blog ever leaks back to the person who stepped up to sponsor the dessert bar, that I think this was a kind and generous gesture that will be well remembered by our community.

    Comment by paulthinkingoutloud — February 18, 2011 @ 1:50 pm

  3. The dessert bar does seem a bit of a contradiction doesn’t it? I suppose it could instill somewhat of a guilt complex which would result in a child sponsorship, but is that the right way? I guess that is something for the organisers to decipher – not me.

    Personally, I prefer to sponsor a child through Compassion.

    Comment by meetingintheclouds — February 18, 2011 @ 3:46 pm

    • Truth be told, my wife and I have so little income, I’m surprised nobody is sponsoring us; but if I had the choice, I prefer Compassion as well. Still I don’t begrudge WV this particular opportunity, nor their share of the $1M that “Watson” won for them on the game show Jeopardy this week!

      I don’t think that “guilt” is what anybody intended, but if so, it didn’t work.

      Comment by paulthinkingoutloud — February 18, 2011 @ 4:48 pm

  4. I know this is an older post but I still need to wade back in. Friends of mine became reps for World Vision quite a few years ago and what I saw (trips, dinners, events)made me reluctant to sponsor through them because it seems more like a business than a ministry. Compassion is a good organization and both my daughters have sponsored a child through them. But I would also like to point out that Gospel for Asia has a great sponsorship program that ties preaching the gospel with their food and education supply and 100% of everything sent goes to the child.

    Comment by Cynthia — February 26, 2011 @ 12:36 pm


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