Wednesday, April 04, 2007

More on how to win a car on Easter

I recently posted Come to church and win a car. The Pastor of Revolution Church, David Trotter, posted a thank you in the comments. It caused me to dig a little deeper. I guess Trotter thinks any publicity is good publicity. He should read my blog.

I found this video of local press coverage for the car give away on YouTube. Pastor David Trotter (blog) has been kind enough to post it. Trotter words are enthusiastic, he believes in what his is doing. Check out what he has to say. I think he's whacked. Here is why.

The rational of giving an extravagant gift meant to emulate the gift God gave of his son to humanity (Trotters rational), smacks of crass commercialism, and worst of all, it sounds like a lie. Like something made up to explain why a pastor would try to entice people into his church by giving away a car.

I support a business doing whatever is required to build its base. A church is a business. They are opening a new "campus". If giving away a few toys helps build the asset base of the church by pulling in more members, then they have accomplished their mission. However, they should at least be honest about their intentions.

If I were a member, I would not be happy donating a car to some random Joe when the Hawaiian Gardens neighborhood the Church serves is desperately poor, and hungry too. Perhaps a donation to the Hawaiian Gardens Food Bank would be more appropriate. I know, a car sounds so much more... Hip? But we are talking about needs versus wants. I want a car. I need a meal. At Easter, which seem more appropriate? A Church with true generosity of spirit helps those who are in need. (IMHO)

15 comments:

David Trotter said...

Good thoughts - unfortunately, you've got us all wrong.

We're very upfront with our motives...we're definitely giving an incentive to come to church and we're simultaneously echoing God's extravagance. More than anything, we want to create conversations, and you're continuing the conversation - so thank you!

And, yes, we do support local and global ministries with financial and volunteer support that reaches well beyond the value of the car.

You should come join us on a Sunday and hear the heart behind what we're all about...

God bless,
David Trotter
www.iNeedARevolution.com

BTW - the name of our church is "Revolution Church."

Lexcen said...

All Churches are run like a business with the advantage that they don't need to pay tax. Every service provided by a church has a fee involved. Some churches have compulsory taxes on members while others pass around the collection tin. I would like to know of any church that operates on a net loss of revenue. Then there is the Vatican bank, with clients including the Mafia and other underworld activities which is also free of tax payable to the government.

Carolyn Ann said...

In a city far away and long ago (Manhattan, early 1990), I attended a service at The Brick Church. (It's a long story as to why I was there, but it involves my quite religious Mom) the pastor gave a sermon about material wealth.

He noted that it was "okay to own a BMW" and so on (those particular words lodged in my memory). Funnily enough, I don't remember him actually saying anything about helping the poor. He probably did, though; he seemed to be very sincere.

I walked away from the service wondering how the material had anything to do with the spiritual. It's a concept I still have trouble figuring out; it's a mix that doesn't make much sense. It's never been reasonably addressed, but it holds a key to the Evangelicals political activism.

I agree with Mr. Trotter: "the" conversation is important. But the actual virtue of the conversation also depends upon the intent of those holding the conversation. If one side is trying to convert, or recruit, I'm inclined to think the motive insincere; intent only on (even mild or vaguely acknowledged) manipulation, and not a true conversation.

Carolyn Ann

Mojoey said...

manipulation - Yes, I did not consider that angle. It rings true. Thanks!

Mojoey said...

David,

I am an Atheist. Church is not someting I do.

I care about our community. I don't get that same buzz about your chruch. Sorry, but your words do not ring true.

David Trotter said...

No worries - just know that you'll always be welcome...

David Trotter
www.iNeedARevolution.com

Bobby said...

Mojoey,

It's a bummer that you are so quick to judge the heart of the church based on the "buzz" you perceive. Fine, have your opinion about the car giveaway. But to say the church doesn't care about the community is just lack of understanding and research.

I am a former staff member at the church. I can tell you that while I was there I experienced tons of care about the community. Revolution is significantly connected to COA who is consistently feeding homeless and reaching the Long Beach communities. Each Thanksgiving Revolution has done a canned food drive for the needy. Serve day is a day every year where the church has provided 7 or so service projects in the area, many of which they continue to assist year-round. Regularly the church sends a group to a local state mental hospital simply to care for the residents. Attenders of the church regularly make large numbers of blankets for children in need at Long Beach Memorial Hospital. They have done significant amounts of ministry to children in rough parts of the Bellflower neighborhood. They have hosted back to school events for the Hawaiian Gardens area where free backpacks and school supplies were given away for kids who wouldn't be able to otherwise afford them.

All that to say, it is quite unfair of you to choose to make such a harsh judgment of a community of people or a single pastor from one aspect that you disagree with. Of course it is always easier to criticize than to take the time or energy to understand the entirety of an organization that you obviously already have something against simply because of their beliefs. I know that if you gave the people there a chance you would find a whole lot of people who are amazing people, care deeply about their community, and maybe even have a whole lot more in common with you than you think.

aidan said...

Part of the difficulty with Christian revivalism in its current manifestation is that it has gone off on a material tangent related to lifestyle, social reformism (abstinence, anti-abortion etc) and even ideological crusading with the aim of running the country. Some of this stuff is a joke, some of it is wacko and dangerous. Very little of it is in sync with the spiritual mission of the original teacher.

New style followers find verses and spin them. They put their own cultural interpretation on the gospel, while remaining myopic in the context of Jesus' call "to see". Offering a car as a prize, however it is rationalized by Mr Trotter, appeals to material greed, opportunism and an A-OK consumer mentality that Jesus would have found a way to avoid via some very long and winding detour. What this represents is feel-good cronyism of the revivalist kind and well- intentioned naivety. It's not "bad" in and of itself, just absurd when viewed in the light of a righteous firebrand who drove money changers out of the temple for introducing commercialism into his "father's house". No amount of revisionism and spin can con anyone who has even an approximate idea of what Jesus was really on about. Which makes me wonder what they do in the theological colleges that produce these latter day reps who claim to be peddling the gospel of the original.

I'm not a Christian (although I was raised as one) - and I don't believe Jesus was the son of the OT "God". The voice that emerges through the NT writings though is powerful and that of a visionary of unique power. He was both ascetic and obsessed totally with people's relationship with "the other" - the so-called "kingdom of heaven". He offered no material bribe or incentive to follow, because his work was premised on doing the will of the father. Witnessing and gathering "the sheep" had to do most of all with the work of the spirit to convict, not hustling cars. To introduce deliberate strategizing and PR, along the lines of "let's offer them a car to get them in" is Barnum and Bailey evangelizing.

If Mr Trotter substitutes Christianity with a call to party, I'll drop by when I'm in town. He sounds like a fun guy. I notice on his blog he was asking for feedback from people who have been following Sex and the City, so he could prep for a sex sermon. Right on. I love it. Just don't confuse any of this with Jesus of Nazareth.

Archangel said...

That's an interesting point. I'm not attempting to defend Trotter since his intentions are unknown to me.
However if we are to look at the principle behind the act and take it at at face value, you may actually be wrong. Do you not agree that if one honestly believes one is "saving a life" by bringing a person to church, any initial enticement justifies the longterm end however convoluted it might seem. If we are working within the presumption that going to church leads us to heaven, then bribing a person to come to church seems justified in comparison to the "hellfire" that awaits him. So criticizing Christians for such actions, as silly as they seem, is certainly not an effective means to exposing their hypocrisy.
Thank you for reading.

aidan said...

Nope ... don't agree. This act is precisely about their hypocrisy. The hypocrisy involved in manipulating scripture in order to suit their ends. On the basis of your "incentive logic" vis-a-vis the car, you could also argue that disincentives are justified also if it helps people escape hellfire. Disincentives such as Christian conservative pharmacists refusing women the pill on "religious grounds", disincentives such as harassing women on their way into abortion clinics. All of it is about hypocrisy and the attempt to use scripture as a tool to justify any number of actions in order to increase their power base, draw in the impressionable, intimidate the fearful. Joey's instincts in simply capturing the sign said a lot. You look at that, and you collide with hypocrisy - it smacks you in the face. If we are supposed to give that a pass in the name of "the principle" you refer to, then we are reduced to the most glaring acts of hypocrisy such as Baptist pedophiles - which of course everyone and their dog would agree upon, even I'm sure - Mr Trotter.

Archangel said...

I think you missed my point. I don't know enough about the facts of David Trotter's car incentive to comment on the existence or non-existence of hypocrisy in that particular instance. What I was talking about is the need to appreciate the principle in terms of what it means to a Christian (and for argument sake, let's say he's an honest, well-meaning Christian) to bring others to his faith. If he truly believes that he is saving a life through his actions (which are within reasonable bounds of law and morality), then he is indeed justified in proceeding in such a manner. This is not about whether he is right or wrong. It's simply about whether his belief justifies his actions.
Thank you for reading.

P.S Since I prefer not to deviate from the subject matter of this post, I shall not proceed any further. For more thoughts on the wider issue please visit http://agradevaduta.wordpress.com/2007/04/06/a-letter-to-an-atheist-part-i-do-you-believe-in-atheism/

aidan said...

I'm not arguing that Mr Trotter isn't justified under the law. Where we differ is that you are defending the rationale for doing this within the context of their version of Christianity. A position that is certainly debatable, even by non-Christians.

The statement that the car incentive is "within legal bounds of law and morality", applies also to my example of disincentives.

Depending on the State it may be legal for a pharmacist to refuse to comply with a request for the pill. This permission is an attempt to elaborate on the "refusal clauses" (Roe v Wade/410 US 113). It has been extended to include the so-called "conscience clause". In some States bills are in the works that will grant pharmacists the right to refuse prescriptions on "moral grounds".

Harassment outside abortion clinics isn't illegal. The 20 year fight against protests outside clinics on the argument that such protests are a violation of federal extortion and racketeering laws was rejected 8-0 by the Supreme Court in 2006. A sign announcing that "abortion kills" is legal right of protest. Plastic foetuses paraded in jars of water also. For a pregnant woman en route to a clinic that has got to feel like heavy intimidation.

Point being that the disincentives I referred to don't have to involve illegal activity. But they sure reflect hypocrisy when viewed in the context of "do onto others ..." and "judge not". Since they are rescuing women from hellfire though ... I guess that stuffs okay ... from their perspective ... naturally.

Archangel said...

Aidan, thank you for that comment. I hope you would find the time to visit my site since there is an ongoing debate taking place which you may find interesting.
In response to your comment, I must clarify that I am talking strictly in terms of a framework of belief and how actions can be justified if one's belief is such. The question is not whether the Christian is right or wrong in providing incentives in his efforts as a "fisher of men", or protesting at abortion clinics. The question is whether we should attempt to understand where these actions originate from. And my point is that this may be a misguided (as it may be the case) belief that the Christian is doing some longterm good through what I may regard as a "shady" act i.e. dangling a car in front of a non-believer or intimidating a pregnant women who is about to abort. However, there is absolutely no point in criticizing someone who believes in all honesty that he is doing what he is charged by divine law to do. The belief itself may not always be justified. But the action may be justified if the belief truly exists.
Thank you for reading.

aidan said...

Archangel, thanks - enjoyed the chat. I'll stop your site for a read.

Anonymous said...

anybody want to buy some ineedarevolution.com shirts that david trotter ordered and never paid for
never think that just because it's a Church that the people that run it will do the right thing
burned by Daivd Trotter himself on a quater of inch on the one color design....to funny
any takers?

great church, with a really good leader ops his not there anymore....wonder what happen?

you can fake out some people but what you are and what you do and say two totaly seprate things "right David" funny how karma works it's true "you should read or see the secret"

your printer