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Don’t Read This

I mean it.

It could cause an internal crisis.

Ok.  You asked for it.

I have posed an interesting question to several people in an attempt to understand the phenomenon known as ‘church giveaways’.  You know, those prizes awarded to the lucky person who has the right ticket on that special night set apart for bringing people to Jesus.  They usually come in the forms of iPods, iPhones, video gaming systems, and the list goes on because there is a large need for that new techy gadget amongst the lost people of the world.

The question that I have asked is this:

What is the biblical support for such giveaways?

Eventually the answer always returned has been, “Christ did miracles to attract people”.  So the answer I have received looks like this:

Wii Video System = Christ raising Lazarus from the dead

iPhone = Christ making the blind to see

iPod = Christ healing the lame

I don’t know if I am able to connect the dots here.  Can someone help me out?

Here are some biblical passages that I could find about why Christ did miracles:

Therefore many other signs Jesus also performed in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name. ~ John 20:30-31

As He passed by, He saw a man blind from birth.And His disciples asked Him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he would be born blind?” Jesus answered, “{It was} neither {that} this man sinned, nor his parents; but {it was} so that the works of God might be displayed in him. ~ John 9:2

Here are my questions to you, the reader, are you for Church giveaways? Why or why not?

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  1. June 23, 2009 at 8:10 pm

    This is a tough one to answer Tony. I can honestly say…I don’t have a clue. Unless, of course, it is a Harley and I won! (Just read about that one). 🙂

    • June 23, 2009 at 8:23 pm

      Well… Bill, Seeing as how you are a pastor of a church, how would you feel about your church giving away a Wii in order to attract people to your church?

  2. June 23, 2009 at 9:35 pm

    Hey Tony, no internal crisis here. Loved your take on this. I think I must live way into the sticks since I don’t see this terribly often in my world. But shoot. If we’re offering life — I mean real, abundant, eternal life — who cares about a Wii? Why would we need to offer something so amazingly not satisfying to get somebody to come and find their life? I think I’m with you (assuming I’m reading you right). What are we telling folks when we do that? What are we telling God when we do that? He’s a Happy Meal and just not as good without the free toy?

    • June 23, 2009 at 10:38 pm

      I think you are reading me exactly right. I love the Happy Meal metaphor… perfect.

  3. June 24, 2009 at 3:10 am

    Agree with Lyla.

    Here’s what Jesus thought:

    ‘Then Jesus called his disciples unto him, and said, I have compassion on the multitude, because they continue with me now three days, and have nothing to eat: and I will not send them away fasting, lest they faint in the way.’ (Mk 15:32)

    He gives us what we Truly need – for the good of the body and the good of the Spirit.

    Food that our body not faint and spiritual food that we not faint ‘in the way’. 🙂

    if we think we truly need an X-box or star wars toy with our manna we truly are not getting ‘the whole point’.

    Pandering to it sends completely the wrong message – by all means reward people for their attendance at church, but do not try to ‘buy them off’ in church – that is what the world does very successfully… ignore the fact that what you are eating is crap and will kill you but enjoy the free gift of the latest ‘must have’ superhero merchandising. (as what McDonalds teaches little children).

    And don’t make it a ‘lottery’ where you have to be in it to win it – the people you are trying to attract in such a fashion will be turned off in greater numbers when they ‘lose’ than the ones you might possibly bring in for the wrong reason by having them ‘win’.

    Christ is NOT like a lottery. He gives to ALL equally.

    Some church leaders really give me grief. 😦

    The reward people should be getting for visiting church is a glimpse of how their lives could be if they accept Christ into their hearts; a vision of how Love, and not love of THIS world, can make you feel inside – if you need to give a free Wii to do that you have a SERIOUS problem.

    <B

    • June 24, 2009 at 4:35 am

      <B,

      I am in agreement with you. So how do you answer the person who says, "The giveaway gets them in the door so that they can hear the gospel message that they might not otherwise?"

      I have an answer but I want to see what other people think.

      • June 25, 2009 at 5:01 am

        How do EYE answer them? hey – i would not be even trying to get them ‘in the door’ – i don’t believe that was the way Christ worked and i try to follow His example 😉 Not all Christians do, it seems 😉 😉

        but i can appreciate the dilemma and i do believe it is my job to help where i can so..

        it reminds me a little of the idea of offering a tiger a ‘free’ deer at the back of a trap designed to enable the animals’ capture for removal to another place (be it a reserve where he can live in freedom and safety from the revenge of man or a zoo where he is ‘cared for’ and gawked at or a taxidermy factory where he can be turned into a rug, is debateable). 🙂

        Lets assume the intent is for the creature (‘guests’) own good or benefit. What is it that we are actually saying to all the ‘new’ guests (and to the existing congregation)? We need to trick and trap you into entering our’ territory’ in order for you to find a way to see the Love of God? Offering you ‘physical’ reward (something you are chasing/need of this world so He can ‘capture your heart’ once you come into the ‘trap’) so that you can ‘find’ the greater spiritual one ‘inside’ and move to a nice ‘safe’ reserve we have prepared for you in His Name??

        What will the world make of that when they realise what is going on? What damage are you doing to future ‘potential’ Christians for the greed of gaining a few more in the congregation?

        if God does not move your heart to attend a church without the ‘lure’ of earthly trinkets in a lottery for reward, then again – your church has a serious problem.

        if you are finding they are not coming in to your trap – sorry, Church – voluntarily for the reward ALL can receive for free then it is up to YOU to go out to them where THEY live and show them reasons to want to live as you do.

        Show them the ‘gifts’ you have received as a ‘door prize’.

        i seem to recall that was what Christ did? No?

        Surely the Christian Church building is a place those who LOVE Christ gather to share their worship of Him with others of a similar mind – why in God’s name would you feel you have to offer a Wii to get people to attend there? isn’t the whole idea those who are in the local community WANT to gather there and not be compelled to/tricked into?

        Or have i missed the point of a Church because of such hypocrisies as i have learned from my experiences in and out of them?

        <B

      • June 25, 2009 at 5:39 am

        I think you have quite clearly communicated many of my own thoughts. I am saddened by the practice.

      • June 25, 2009 at 8:55 pm

        I’m with <B on this one. We gotta get out the door. Beats finding crazy ways to hornswaggle them into coming in the door.

  4. June 24, 2009 at 2:00 pm

    I must be stuck too far back in the sticks, because I’ve never heard of such a thing. Giveaways? Really?! Mercy, grace, and eternal life aren’t enough anymore?

    This utterly blows my mind.

    • June 25, 2009 at 5:41 am

      It has caused quite the pickle for me as well.

  5. June 24, 2009 at 9:49 pm

    I think a simple answer would be: the “Wii” is what brought them to church, not the Holy Spirit leading someone to invite them or the tugging at their heart as the drive by the same church every day on the way to work. We can all say that God works in mysterious ways, and this is true, but I totally agree with Lyla and her Happy Meal metaphor. How can we compare eternal life with our Heavenly father to winning a Wii or an iPhone…it just doesn’t make good sense to me. Try explaining that to a non-believer that it’s not really about the Wii…just my two cents.

    • June 25, 2009 at 5:44 am

      Tina, I appreciate your two cents. This has been educational for me in that I have not had one comment so far that supports the practice. I was hoping that there would be someone that would give some thoughts of why giveaways are a worthy thing to do…

      The lack of such comments speaks volumes.

  6. July 10, 2009 at 5:26 am

    Would love to give you a different opinion but never heard of such a thing. I won’t say God wouldn’t use it to reach someone, but I don’t think that means we should do it. It just seems lazy to me. Rather than serving people in our community, giving to those in need and showing them Christ’s love, we’ll have a give away.

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