QUESTION: I received your invitation to come to a Jews for Jesus friendship banquet, and I noticed that the price of the ticket was $15.00. That seems rather high to me for a meal. Wouldn’t it be better if you just asked your supporters to donate that amount rather than inviting us to an expensive meal?
ANSWER: We think that $15.00 for a meal is a sizeable amount, too, but it is very much in line with today’s costs for food preparation and service. We do not make a profit on these meals. We only charge what the catering house or hotel charges us. Had you attended the banquet, you would have noticed that usually our staff does not eat at those affairs. Instead, our people move from table to table, greeting and visiting with everyone. The friendship banquets are not occasions for dining out,” nor are they merely fund-raisers. We use them as an effective means for building relationships.
This is an area where the Jewish culture differs from the common church culture of our day. When a major event takes place in the Jewish community, such as the installation of a new rabbi at the temple, or an important speech by a visiting Israeli or other foreign dignitary, it is usually surrounded by a banquet. Jewish people feel quite comfortable at such functions. Because of this cultural orientation, our friendship banquets can be superb opportunities for Christians to invite unbelieving Jewish friends to investigate us and our message.
Our feeling is that if it works, it’s worth the expense. We want to be careful with the Lord’s money, but our first consideration must always be: what is the best kind of evangelism for a given situation? Then we must act accordingly.
One of the problems that plagues home missions in general is the question, “What will our contributors think?” This kind of thinking has hampered many outreach ministries, and some of the best means of evangelism have not been utilized simply because of that fear of appearing to be ostentatious or uneconomical.
If funds and fund conservation were our chief concerns, we could cut back in a number of endeavors, friendship banquets included. For example, we could make our tracts smaller to use less paper, but then they would be more difficult to distribute.
Another such example is our newspaper advertising. The ads we find most effective are our full-page spreads that present the Jewish believer’s position on the person of Christ. Nevertheless, as effective as these ads are, we lose support every time such an ad appears in a major city. People mistakenly reason that if we can afford to do that kind of advertising, we must no longer need their contributions. Actually, the reverse is true. We dare to think big and to undertake big projects because we know that we have a big God.
Our average mail donation is less than the $15.00 we charge for admission to our friendship banquets. We do appreciate the small donors, knowing that the Lord can certainly multiply the “widow’s mite” as he did the loaves and fishes. Nevertheless, we want to get moving. We want to keep on thinking big, and we trust that God will supply us with others who also can think big and who will be willing to stand with us in what we are trying to accomplish.