To Raffle or Not to Raffle

Raffles are often used as fundraisers. A club has a need for money and so decides to hold a raffle. Perhaps they are a tennis club. They decide to “raffle” a high quality tennis racket. The tennis racket costs $300.00. The tickets will go for $5.00 each. They need 60 people to break even. Anything above this will be their “return” on their investment. Since the tennis club plans to sell at least 250 tickets, they’re “sure” they’ll be able to bring in some money through this raffle.

Sam is approached by Al.

“Do you want to buy a raffle ticket for a high quality tennis racket, Sam?” Al says.

“How much?” Sam asks.

“Only five dollars!” Al responds. And look, it’s worth $300.00!

Sam passes Al five dollars and has now entered into the raffle.

Will Sam win the raffle? Sam’s chances to win the raffle, if all 250 tickets are sold, is 1 in 250. Those are the odds. That’s what math says. Only 1 person is going to win that raffle. 249 are going to be losers. 249 will have given their money in the hopes that they would win the high quality tennis racket, but will have lost.

Now you are a Christian. And you are thinking, “A raffle is okay by God’s standards. There’s nothing wrong with it.”

But you know something? My God is not in the business of disappointing and letting down people.

Take, for example, the following verses, and compare them to the disappointment that will be experienced by the 249 who didn’t win the raffle.

“Thine, O LORD, [is] the greatness, and the power, and the glory, and the victory …” (1 Chronicles 29:11)

“But thanks [be] to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Cor. 15:57)

Where is the victory in 249 defeats? Indeed, there is none. 249 have suffered defeat and only 1 person has won.

For this reason raffles are not born of God. When you promote a raffle, you are actually setting someone up for defeat. This goes contrary to the very grain of Scripture, which never positions God as being someone who sets us up for failure. Rather, he sets us up for success. One of the reasons, in fact, that Christians struggle, is because they are conditioned to believe that God has not expressly set them up for success. If they would believe that God has purposely and purposefully set them up for success, then they would do much better. Their level of faith and expectancy would be heightened. The faith principle would “kick in” to their lives, and they would see miracles happening before their very eyes.

Take for example, Hebrews 11:6. “But without faith [it is] impossible to please [him]: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and [that] he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” When true faith is there, God is pleased. And God rewards!

What then does a raffle do to a person’s faith? First, it sets them up for failure from the very outset. It is absolutely and unequivocally contrary to the very purposes of God. While faith in Christ is a sure victory and yields 100% results every time, faith in a raffle, is, for all intents and purposes (except for that 1 out of the 250), a sure defeat!

And what about that 1 out of the 250 who won the prize? Will he be encouraged to trust in Christ for his victory? No. Not likely. If he is like most people of the world, he will view the raffle as being the means by which he achieved success, and “won” the tennis racket. For most people, this will not lead to a deepening of their faith in Christ, but rather a deepening of their faith in raffles! In all likelihood, they will be thinking, “I won this time … maybe I can win next time, as well!” Will they? The odds say that they will be gambling 249 more times (yes, friends, it’s gambling) before they win that raffle again. That one time was “their” turn to win. It’s downhill all the way from here … that’s just pure math.

To “win” that racket again they will have to spend 249 x $5.00 = $1245.00. In the end, the “winner” will have become a greater loser than the “losers”, because he will have become enticed by that raffle, and will have trusted in it for his victory, when he should not have. Now this is what a raffle does to a person. Is the same spirit that works in the gambling industry to entice those who practice it.

Do you see a fundamental difference between a raffle and a lottery ticket?

There is … no difference!

Both are a chasing after fantasies. Both are a chasing after the wind.

Proverbs 28:19 puts it this way: “He who works his land will have abundant food, but the one who chases fantasies will have his fill of poverty.”

Truly, chasing after a raffle is a “chasing” after a fantasy — an unattainable dream, for both the loser as well as the victor in the end.

It promotes addiction: The person will do it again, in the hopes of winning.

It promotes idolatry: The person will focus on the raffle as a means of finding fulfilment, rather than God.

It promotes a misuse of money and poor stewardship: The person will be wasting what God has given him on unrealizable, unattainable, ends.

For the person who holds a raffle, they are accountable to God for what happens to those who enter into it, or are even influenced, by the raffle, even if they don’t buy a ticket.

If it was me, I’d stay “real clear” of raffles, or bingos, or any such thing which is a “chasing after the wind”. What about you?