Cornelius, who founded the mega-church in 1998, and now boasts thirty services spread over eight sanctuaries, minces no words, he says the purpose of the bizarre stunt is to get people to consider attending a church service on Christianity's holiest day.
"We are going to get people who wouldn't come to church any other way except if they get free stuff," Cornelius said today. "We're not going after people who want to come to church, we're going after people who don't want to come to church."
Let me be clear on this.
Church, at its best, is a gathering of believers and seekers drawing strength from one another and worshiping and praising God.
It is not the Publisher's Clearing House Sweepstakes. It's not a string of stupid publicity stunts. I used to merely grouse that it wasn't entertainment similar to what you'd find on TV. The church of Oprah. Now it's, what, the church of Ron Popeil? But wait! There's more!
Do you suppose this pastor is dumb enough to actually believe he's going to bring anyone to Jesus this way? Or, hell, do you think he's cracked, you know, a Bible lately, as opposed to something written by Rick Warren or Joel Osteen? (I'm certain he gave away copies of The Prayer of Jabez back in the day.)
In his book You Better Not Cry, Augusten Burroughs talked about how, when he was a very small child, he had Jesus confused with Santa Claus. I am getting the distinct impression Bill Cornelius never figured it out. I have friends and acquaintances who are absolutely dismissive of Christianity and shit like this is exactly why. Hell I can't even take this man seriously as a Christian, and I grew up in the church!
And here's the part that really gets to me:
The idea to give away prizes to people attending Easter services grew out of a desire to give away bikes to low income children in a depressed area ofSee, this is a faith-outreach program I can get behind. You collect bicycles, you go out into the community and you take care of the least of these...
where he is opening a new church. Corpus Christi
Here's my question: How many of the 300 bicycles the church is giving away on Easter Sunday were originally intended for this program? I mean, I sincerely hope that the two are separate and that the church followed through with this community project before embarking on the publicity stunt but, well, let's say my faith is weak.