Crossroads Church in Corona, California gave away a $25,000 Harley-Davidson Road King motorcycle in the name of the gospel. One witness noted "I guess they feel the bike has significant value in the people they're trying to reach. ... Barry McMurtrie is a no-nonsense kind of a guy. He'll do anything to reach people, but he'll also make sure they have the opportunity to know the Gospel. When he opens his Bible, there will be no misunderstanding." The bike was given away not to a visitor, but a year-long member who won the bike through having his name pulled from a hat.
Sadly, this is not uncommon. The River at Tampa Bay in Florida gave away a Humvee in January. On New Year's Eve 2003 Abundant Life Christian Center in La Marque, Texas, raffled off a Harley-Davidson Sportster and a Chrysler PT Cruiser to visitors and members. And Christ's Church of the Valley near Phoenix appealed to unchurched young adults by giving away two tickets to a sold-out U2 rock concert to people who visited the church's Web site.
It's hard to imagine churches being more "consumer-oriented" than this! Is this a good method. Can you image Paul walking into a town and pulling a stunt like this? How can any pastoral staff think this is a good idea: get people into the building and then "trick" them by sharing the gospel with them?
Of course, for the church that is so dangerously fascinated with larger and larger numbers, anything goes in this wild unchecked age of evangelicalism.
It hits close to home,too. The fascination with numbers in the Southern Baptist Convention has led to the following numbers: At the end of 2004, the SBC listed a total membership of 16,267,494 individuals (the largest Protestant denomination in the country) in 43,465 churches. However, that same report tells us that the average Sunday morning worship service in all those churches averages 6,024,289 people. It doesn't take a "neat math trick" to realize that our churches are averaging 10 million members at home a week with 6 million attending.
Don't even get me started on Sunday nights!!!
Sure, the numbers reveal that we are BIG but do they say that we are HEALTHY?
No! We are seriously sick. In our drive to get more and more people "through the water" and "onto the membership rolls," we have added individuals as members who give absolutely no signs of being a regenerate child of the King.
Bobby Welch, the current president of the SBC, has set a goal to see one million individuals baptized this year. We have ten million already baptized in our churches that we can't find. If we get one million more "members" like those, we are doomed!
Which army would you rather have: Gideon's first army or his last?