Reading Time: 2 minutes

Here’s one way to get masses of people to flock to church: give away free cars. (And not junkyard pieces of crap, either.)

I know prosperity gospel preachers say God wants us to be wealthy, but I had no clue God also had a Holy Roulette Wheel.

The Washington Post‘s Julie Zauzmer reports on this bizarre (and expensive) way of spreading the gospel.

“You ready to give a car away?” Stephen Chandler boomed into his microphone, bouncing in his boots at the altar Sunday.

And then the pastor did it again. And later that day, he would do it again. And again. Five free cars in all, handed out to the lucky winners at Destiny Church in Columbia, Md., on Sunday.

It was part marketing ploy — but also theology, Chandler said. Randomly giving away cars to people who show up to worship demonstrates God’s unbelievable, no-strings-attached goodness, Chandler preached.

And it sure helps get people in the door on a Sunday morning.

The church used the money it normally donates to charity to purchase the used cars, then requested submissions from congregants about why they deserved to win a car. (One car was set aside for a family who said they needed it to drive their daughter across state lines for treatment for her liver and kidney failure.)

Chandler insists that the Bible teaches that giveaways are a surefire way to attract crowds, but there’s a monumental difference between distributing loaves and fishes — an inexpensive, easy-to-prepare meal — and new cars.

What does it say about their religion when the most compelling reason they can give people to go to their new church campus has nothing to do with the sacrifice they say Jesus made for us, or because their preaching will change our lives, but because they’re bribing us?

It’s like parents who offer cash to their children for every good grade on a report card. It might motivate them… but what message are you really sending?

In this case, the lesson is clear: For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but maybe drive home in a new Ford Escape.

(Image via Shutterstock)