When Oprah Winfrey still had her daytime talk show her giveaway episodes were among some of the most watched and talked about. Oprah’s Favorite Things were surprise gifts for each audience member. These gifts ranged in value from her favorite book to a brand new car! Who could forget her proclaiming, “you get a car, you get a car, you get a car, everybody gets a new car!!!” I always thought it would be pretty cool to be able to have the means to walk into a room like Oprah and give everyone something valuable.
I read about a church in Maryland who did something like that. Destiny Church was planted in 2011 and started in a school just like the church I pastor. A few months ago they were able to move into a new building and wanted to celebrate generosity by giving back to the community. Senior pastor, Stephen Chandler said, “One of our founding values as a church is that 'We Are Outrageously Generous,' and we strive to live that out in everything we do.” So what did they do? They raffled off five cars at church this past Sunday! The cars were paid for by a fund that is made up of 10 percent of all donations the church receives. "These funds are for the purpose of generosity, missions, benevolence, and outreach and have been used over the years to plant churches both internationally and domestically, partner with great non-profit organizations, help those in need locally, and generally share the love of Christ outside of our walls,” Chandler said. “Part of this year's generosity budget was used to purchase these vehicles." https://www.christianheadlines.com/blog/maryland-church-gives-away-5-cars-one-of-our-values-is-to-be-outrageously-generous-says-pastor.html
West Haven has given away some nice mugs and pens before, but never a car!! Of course haters are going to hate. The church has been criticized for promoting materialism but the cars were all used and budgeted through their benevolence program. Pastor Chandler responded to the negativity by saying, "We did not want anything from them, simply to demonstrate love towards them.”
Agree or disagree with this church’s approach to outreach, Jesus experienced the same type of thing when He met the physical needs of people but He also cautioned the people about the pursuit of earthly gain. After feeding the five thousand in John 6 the crowd continues to pursue Jesus, looking for Him all over the area. When they found Him He cautions the crowd by saying:
Jesus replied, “Truly, truly, I tell you, it is not because you saw these signs that you are looking for Me, but because you ate the loaves and had your fill. Do not work for food that perishes, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For on Him God the Father has placed His seal of approval.” John 6:26-27
Thus begins an argument with the crowd that ultimately leads to many of them never following after Jesus again. However, in that same passage we get the confession of Peter when Jesus asked if they too wanted to leave. “Lord, to whom would we go? You have the words of eternal life.” John 6:68
If we lose a few cars along the way or even some pizza here and there to those who never commit, so be it. True, we must be good stewards of our resources and we never want to come across as materialistic but we must use all we have to reach as many as we can in the time we have left. What do you have that God wants to use to see that someone has the opportunity to meet our Savior?
I tell you, use worldly wealth to gain friends for yourselves, so that when it is gone, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings. Luke 16:9
Serving the Savior
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