Every Memorial Day weekend for 14 years, thousands gather in front of St. Boniface Catholic Church in Edwardsville, Illinois, early Saturday morning for a race. Some run the 5K, others walk the 2-mile route. Kids, adults, men, women, everyone circles the town to raise funds for this church.

There are churches on every corner in America, and most don’t know how to market themselves. But the folks at St. Boniface certainly have a sense of what it takes to keep an organization going.

A carnival takes over the parking lot beside the church. Booths offer funnel cakes and hot dogs for sale, and families arrive throughout the two-day “Bonifest” for something or other that attracts their funny bone. Carnival rides, contests where you win cheap prizes like my niece’s prized tie-dye dolphin, a fierce game of paint ball or simply the morning race.

What church do you know that offers something for everyone?

The other day I chatted with a friend whose church in Birmingham, Michigan has become known for offering services and supports and community for people with disabilities. On Sunday morning, parents can leave their severely hampered children in one-on-one care so they can worship uninterrupted.

Once you find your niche, inhabit it.

And another thing. There is this dumb notion that if you offer social services or in some way help people to improve their lives, you shouldn’t make money at it. I don’t know the ins and outs of churches, but someone’s on the money at St. Boniface.

There is nothing wrong with creating a festival the town can rally around and enjoy on one of our long weekends each year when families are looking for some good, clean fun. Organizations must pay their bills and stay in business. If they can’t figure out a way to raise the funds, they will soon cease to exist.

Whether you’re a church or a yoga teacher or a social worker or a teacher, if you don’t value the work you do, no one else will either.

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