One church in Texas held an unusual Easter service this past Sunday. The Bay Area Fellowship in Corpus Christi used a huge prize giveaway to draw in visitors. All of the prizes were donated.
While the church gave away 15 cars, hundreds of bicycles, furniture, and cash, the pastor says the real goal was to give away something much more valuable.
"You know what; it's really been a lot of fun," said Pastor Bill Cornelius. "We've been giving stuff away all weekend long. But the main thing is we've seen people receiving Christ all weekend long and it's really, the whole concept is we've been giving cars and stuff but the ultimate giveaway is giving away Heaven for free which is what Easter is really all about."
Church leaders said they did not want to give the wrong idea with the flashy prizes. They just wanted to reach as many people as possible with the Gospel.
Come to church - win big prizes! The concept will not die. You really don't get the full effect until you watch the video. The young minister, sporting spiked hair and wearing old jeans with shirt un-tucked, draws the names of winners. Down the isle comes the running, screaming winner. Think "The Price is Right" and you will have the idea. This, friends, is what "church" has become in some quarters.
Of course, the prizes were all donated. But wait - isnt' everything at most church donated? I was thinking that perhaps the deacons had robbed some cars lots and department stores! But no, the prizes were donated.
But the church leaders "did not want to give the wrong idea with the flashy prizes." I wonder what idea they wanted to give? I get the idea that they were saying, "If we give you a car, will you listen to our preacher?" I'm sure it's not commercialized of anything like that - no, wait, it is!
When, in the fourth century, Constantine began to "give away" government posts to those who were Christians, some began go wonder if that did not cheapen Christianity. If you became a Christian, even in part, to get government goodies, were you really a Christian? If you come to church to get free goodies, are you really there for a good reason? It is at least a question worth asking.
The video clip was very short, but I hope Bay Area Fellowship help back nothing in their imitation of "The Price Is Right." I hope that, when each winner's name was announced, the lucky winner was given full honors thus: "Joe Smith, come on down. You're the next big winner here at Bay Area Fellowship!"
Isn't church wonderful these days?