If you haven’t heard about the Million Dollar Giveaway, let me sum it up for you. There is a Church in Texas that, for its Easter services, is giving away well over 5 million dollars in prizes to people Easter Sunday. Why? They are showing how great Heaven is. The idea is that if an attendee is joyful about receiving a Mitsubishi Spyder (which is actually one of the prizes) they will have an idea of how wonderful heaven will be.
Wrong. So wrong, for two reasons.
This falls into the consumerist culture of America. It is nothing but the Prosperity gospel with different pants on, and Joel Osteen would be proud. One member is hoping someone struggling with addiction will receive a car so that he can see what great worth heaven is. A car is not what an addict truly needs (this is kindergarten stuff, people).
For argument’s sake, let’s say there are actually poor and needy people in the area. What benefit are these gifts going to be for them? True, they could sell some things for food, but they would need (un-affordable) insurance to use the car, and none of the items in the gift bags (chiropractor appointments, professional photography coupons, etc) would do them even temporary good.
There must not be any poor or homeless in the area that they can give the money to instead.
What are you saving them to?
This is a hugely important question for every Church to answer. Jared Wilson made this comment: Ends don’t justify means. What we win them with is what we win them to. This, at best, is a cheap gimmick to double attendance. A brief perusing of the pastor’s twitter timeline shows that he is chiefly interested in numbers and doubling attendance. That’s why he can happily give away hundreds of prizes: he has the money for it because it “causes Church growth”.
True Church growth is not found in the numbers, but in the hearts of those who are believing.