$4 Million Dollar Easter Giveaway


Many of you know that I have been a Youth Pastor for a pretty long time.  And over these many years in ministry, I have given away lots of free SWAG like t-shirts, bumper stickers, CD’s, and wrist bands. We give these things away to Middle and High School students who attend one of our various youth ministry programs, in order to get the word out about our community.  I have also given away larger ticket items, like iPods and gift-cards, as a way to attract students to attend fun “outreach” programs like Lock-ins, Fall Kick-Off and 5th Quarter. These programs are specifically designed to welcome new students into our Student Ministry family. One of the goals for these events is fellowship and to develop a relationship with students  that will point them toward a relationship with  Jesus.  And let’s be honest, winning and giving away free t-shirts, pizza, stickers, wrist bands and CD’s is just plain old fun.


By now you might be wondering why I am sharing this with you.  Well, I was reading last week about a church in Texas that gave away $4 million dollars worth of free merchandise to attract visitors to one of their Easter worship services.  Yes, you heard me correctly. It started as a $1 Million dollar giveaway and turned into $4 Million dollars worth of merchandise including cars, flat screen TV’s, bikes, bedroom furniture, guitars and more.


So, I have a few questions for you. Is what the church in Texas did and what I do in Student ministry any different? Why? Does the shear amount of money make a difference or is it all a matter of the motivation of the heart? Do the ends justify the means? Is the money better spent spreading the message of Jesus by feeding the hungry or caring for the homeless? Is this a gray issue or not? Ok, I hate to say it but the best comment on this post will win a new car, it’s a matchbox car, but it’s brand new! And, as always, please take a minute to subscribe to The Ordained Barista or forward this post on to your electronic community.  You’ll never know how much it will help!

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  • http://www.colorfulworld.org Eric Garner

    There are so many thoughts running through my head about this blog post that I need to sort out because if you handed me and Audi, yes I’d take it, but it doesn’t mean I am coming back to hear you speak about the Bible. So like I said I have 100 thoughts on my mind and I’ll be posting throughout the week on how I feel about this. Great blog post Barista!

  • Laurie

    That church is certainly trying to one up Oprah !!

    I’m sure that Texas Church was packed, but I’m also certain that most of them were there for the Wrong reasons, and won’t be returning next week.

    I totally agree ~ that money could have been well spent elsewhere. Wow think how many people 4 Millons dollars could have fed ~ that would have made people want to be part of that church.

    Are you trying to justify your “Give Aways”? You should have your winners “Pass them on” to someone else they feel may need Jesus ~ like an invitation to come visit The Big Barry!!

  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/28199562@N02/ tony babcock

    WOW !!! this had my head spinning as well … I was always taught to … “test the spirit/motive” … while the original thought or motive may have been pure, i feel the message was diluted or lost. WOW this has me torn .. because if this whole thing brought just one soul to believe then it was worth it.

    Experience has taught me that this will play more on greed then on value … One of the most valuable things that I have received has no monitary value what so ever! As i think most people that are rich in character have an item that is invaluable to them that may appear of no real value to the world. example a photo of a loved one who has passed.

    VALUE says to me = A small prize like the ones you give away are fine and can make things fun. The spirit in which you give them away, upon testing it, is pure of heart. If you change the prize to something of monitary worth of lets say over 500.00 watch things turn ugly … I believe in the bible it says somewhere that money is the root of all evil …Did not JESUS also say it is harder for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of heaven and easier for a camel to go through the eye of the needle. So a question comes to mind … “why make a man rich??? wouldn’t it make it harder for him to get into the kingdom if he did not believe? If that indeed happened then the church just succeded in turning someone away from the gospel. hmmmmm
    This is no wisdom of my own … this is Tony hiding behind scripture and testing the spirit of it all.

    So upon that test i would have to say that this is not a good thing … while having a giveaway is fine … doing anything to THIS excess does not seem to line up with scripture to me. I think the prizes in question would have been better served by giving them to people who have a real need for them.

    I know god does not want robot followers. This seems to much like people being bought … Jesus already paid that price. I have found that the gospel is for those that want it … if it was for those that need it then everyone would be in heaven and the kings ransom that was paid for me would not have been nessisary, and god would have a robot church … not a church that loves and adores him …. sorry this was so long took me awhile as i am not that quick..


  • Don

    Can the Holy Spirit use door prizes to bring about Metanoia (changed, convicted and repentant hearts)? Without a doubt. Does He choose to operate this way? That’s the $4 million theological question. I’m probably more leaning towards the Romans 5:15-17,6:23 salvation is the free gift of God model. Interesting post.

  • Bill in PA

    This seems like fine line to walk. Don’t we always make fine lines for ourselves? Using material things to get them in the door does work, and the fact that someone who came in for a chance to win a car gets to hear the gospel that they might not have otherwise heard is praiseworthy. Could the money have been spent on the poor? So could have the money for the perfume that was poured on Jesus head. Christ recognized that ministry works in many different ways that don’t always fit in a box. Will the believer who wins a big ticket prize then pay it forward and bless someone else? Maybe….
    Oy vey! What a quandary you have presented to us, Barry.
    When it’s all said and done, what you do with pizza and Starbucks is no different that what they did with Beemers and flat screens. (I think they might have a bigger budget) But intent is the same isn’t it?
    Is the money better spent on widows and orphans? Well sure…. but perhaps bringing in a few more believers will increase your giving base and allow you to do more in the long run. Besides, from what the pastor was saying, it seemed as though a lot of this stuff was donated. Sooooooooo….. lots of gray area here to cause my gray matter to hurt….
    I guess we turn to Jesus for the final word….

    Jesus replied: ” ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’[b] 38This is the first and greatest commandment. 39And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[c] 40All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” Matt 22

    He didn’t tell us how to love our neighbors, just to love them. So maybe giving them a used Jaguar is the ultimate in agape love… just sayin’… Let’s put more time in loving our God and our neighbors and less time worrying about if what we are doing is “religiously correct.”

  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/28199562@N02/ tony babcock

    amen Bill …when it boils down to it .. it all goes back to love ….

  • Chris Ridings

    I must say that it is extravagant to do something like the church in TX did. It is a crazy way to sink a point into a person’s heart. In hard economic times we do tend to think with our pocket books rather than ours hearts. Maybe it got people in the door that lusted after the things of the world and found Jesus instead. Crazy! Bold! Extravagant! Remind you of anyone.

  • Roger

    At first, I was put off, but after hearing the pastor comment, I don’t think I have a problem with it. It’s a much bigger take on what you Barry, and countless other churches do for outreach. If their goal is to get the unchurched in and they do just that, then while unconventional, certainly hard to argue with results of 300 conversions (assuming that is legit).


  • http://www.colorfulworld.org Eric Garner

    So, I have watched the video and I really did enjoy listening to what the pastor had to say because he in which I believe is genuine in why the church he runs is doing this is to demonstrate the ultimate gift that is free so, in your worldly thinking if that is how your heart and mind think once entering the church, winning! but knowing every day you drive that car or watch that flat screen you are reminded where it came from and the message you heard prior to receiving it so, that said you never know where or how someone will accept Christ…even if it is in an Audi…playing NHL 2010 on the flat screen. I feel being against this may sow the seeds of not trusting in the power of God. I dig it because that church was narrow focused for Easter. Yes, they could feed alot of people with that money; but alot of people eating don’t have to accept Jesus just the same as those who walked away with a prize. All lives are important no matter where they live.