In 1840, Alexis de Tocqueville observed that, “preachers in America are continually coming down to earth. Indeed they find it difficult to take their eyes off it. The better to touch their hearers, they are forever pointing out how religious beliefs favor freedom and public order, and it is often difficult to be sure when listening to them whether the main object of religion is to procure eternal felicity in the next world or prosperity in this” (Democracy in America, 2.2.9).
This problem has continued to plague practitioners of religion in America since the time of de Tocqueville, right down to the present day emphasis on “the practical” over “the theological,” having Your Best Life Now, rather than focusing on the significance of what Jesus did way back then. However, CNN is running a report today that a Chicago area church has taken things in an entirely new direction. At The Lighthouse Church of All Nations in Alsip, Illinois, they’ve decided to use the offering money to fund a weekly lottery. With game show music in the background, the pastor reads the winning number and the contestant, uh, sorry, congregant is awarded a cash prize. And by all accounts it appears to be bringing ‘em in. Since The Lighthouse Church began the lottery just over two months ago, they have nearly doubled in size. This may be the beginning of an entire new chapter in the history of the Church Growth movement.
Here’s the video from CNN: Lottery lures more to church