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!