Monday, December 29, 2003

Be The Ninth Convert

In radio, it's called contesting. You've heard it, "Be the ninth caller and win a pair of tickets"; "The only station giving away a chance to win ten thousand dollars!", etc..

There's no great mystery to's basic bribery. Radio stations hope to lure people into listening by offering them prizes. The more people who listen, the more radio stations charge for ads, and the more money they make.

It must work, since almost every radio station does it.

But not every church.

This is from The Galveston County Daily News

Church finding new ways to attract attendance

By Alicia Gooden
The Daily News

Published December 28, 2003

LA MARQUE ? Lots of people make them every year around this time ? commitments to turn over a new leaf once the new year begins.
Mixed in with all the other New Year?s resolutions to lose weight, exercise more, get out of debt and stop smoking are usually vows to start going to church.
An October survey conducted by the Harris Poll, an international marketing and research firm, found that 79 percent of Americans believe that there is a god, but only 36 percent attend a religious service once a month or more. Abundant Life Christian Center is taking a step to increase church attendance.
In the sanctuary before the thousands of people who worship there every week are a shiny new Chrysler PT Cruiser and a Harley Davidson Sportster motorcycle.
The church will give the vehicles away Wednesday night at its New Year?s Eve service.
The giveaway is part of a creative method to get people to come to church, but the message has not changed, said Pastor Walter Hallam.
?This is an opportunity for the church to give something to someone that will encourage people to come to the house of the Lord,? he said.
Once there, Hallam said the message of salvation will keep people coming to church.
?We want to be real and effective in serving the community and the Lord,? he said. ?We want to do something to have a positive effect on people?s lives.?
Abundant Life has opened the drawing up to members and visitors. Each time people attend a church service there, they are eligible to enter the free drawing for either the car or the motorcycle.
The church has three services a week. Members bringing visitors are eligible to register twice.
The response has been overwhelming, said Jim Walker, business administrator for the church.
The vehicles weren?t donated. The church purchased them to give away.
?We?re a giving church,? said Hallam.
The Chrysler PT Cruiser is for a woman. The motorcycle is for a man. The winner of each new vehicle must be at the Wednesday service, which will include indoor fireworks, confetti, and a 4,000-balloon drop to usher in the new year.
The church will undertake other innovative programs that reach out to people in 2004, said Hallam.
?As a church, we have to use new methods to help take the old Gospel and give it to the world,? he said.

Has it really come to this?

How about an "Endure the sermon" contest? The last one to nod off during an 18 point sermon on the book of Jeremiah wins.

Or maybe something more blatant like "Commit to Christ for Cash!", "Baptize 'em for Bucks!", or "Lotto for the Lord!".

Am I wrong to think the promise of salvation - everlasting life wrapped in the loving arms of God should be prize enough?

It is for me...thank God.