There may be legitimate reasons for charging for some events, for example, if you are bringing in a professional Christian comedian or speaker—someone has to pay for their time and expenses. However, in most instances, I believe strongly that it communicates an incorrect message if a church charges (or even asks for donations) at a ministry event.
Fall Festival mixed message
I recently looked at an advertisement for a Church Fall Festival. It was going to be an alternative Halloween event, which is always popular with the community. I was told that in years past this church put on the event as free community outreach, but this year things were different. The person showing me the invitation card was concerned and here's why:
The invitation said: "Fun, games, food, candy for all!" and in big letter, "No entry fee"
In much smaller letters it said, "There will be a small charge for a hot dog meal; candy is free."
"There will be a charge for professional photos at the event."
What's wrong with that?
Times are still really hard for lots of folks and it was not only a very confusing message, but I think one unworthy of the gospel. Let's look at the food charge first and then the photography one. The text continues below the video.