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Joined: 2003/11/23
Posts: 4529

 Texas megachurch giving over $1 Million in door prizes this Sunday...

[b]Easter eggs and more than $1M in prizes at S. Texas megachurch[/b]
[i]Pastor says free items include cars, furniture and heaven[/i]
By Denise Malan
Corpus Christi Caller-Times
March 27, 2010

CORPUS CHRISTI — You’ve never seen an Easter egg hunt like this before.

Bay Area Fellowship, the largest church in Corpus Christi, is giving away flat-screen televisions, skateboards, Fender guitars, furniture and 15 cars — yes, cars — at its Easter services next week.

And even those who don’t win big will walk away with something. The church has gathered donations for 15,000 gift bags, each with about $300 worth of free goods and services.

“We’re going to give some stuff away and say, ‘Imagine how great heaven is going to be if you feel that excited about a car,’ ” lead Pastor Bil Cornelius said. “It’s completely free — all you have to do is receive him.”

He hopes the prizes will help Bay Area lure some people who don’t normally go to church or those who have lapsed in their faith.

“A lot of people won’t come to Easter services because they think, ‘Well, I haven’t been good,’ ” Cornelius said. “Well, that’s not free. That’s not what it’s about. You don’t have to be ‘good’ to come to church.”

The prizes are meant as a metaphor for Cornelius’ Easter message of what he calls the ultimate giveaway. Just as the prizes are free for the winners, so is heaven. But someone first had to pay for all the cars and furniture and TVs, as Jesus paid for peoples’ sins.

“The ultimate giveaway is that Jesus gave his life for us,” Cornelius said. “When we think about the spirit of giving, we always think about Christmas. But really the ultimate spirit of giving is Easter.”

Cornelius, a laid-back pastor with spiky hair and bluejeans, has weathered criticism of his megachurch before. Some say its rock ’n’ roll band, flashy lights and large size stray too far from Jesus’ true message.

So he knows there’s bound to be criticism of the giveaway plan.

“We know it’s unconventional,” he said. “We know some people of faith aren’t going to agree with it.”

Michael Emerson, a sociology professor at Rice University and co-director of its Institute for Urban Research, said “Wow” several times as Bay Area’s giveaway was described to him. He said he had never heard of anything like it before.

“I never have, not to this extreme, not at all,” Emerson said. “This is something.”

He said some can criticize the plan for the same reasons they might megachurches in general.

“Another critique of the movement is they’re extremely comfortable with consumer society,” Emerson said, “whereas some believers would say, ‘This is not who Jesus was, this was not what he taught.’ ”

Cornelius also isn’t aware of a church giveaway before on such a large scale. A search of news reports shows that the giant Lakewood Church in Houston, led by Joel Osteen, gave away $57,000 worth of donated Left Behind video games to its children’s ministry last Easter. Another small church in Ohio plans to give away $500 to a member and to a guest this Easter.

Last week, Bay Area volunteers were busy detailing the cars and putting together bicycles. They had to cut a large space in the back of the chapel’s stage for the cars to fit through during Easter services.

Bay Area raised all these donations in two weeks.

The idea started in a staff meeting at The Crossing church in Elk River, Minn. Lead Pastor Eric Dykstra was planning a series he called “Joy Ride,” about the ultimate joy Jesus can bring. He wanted to use a car on stage to illustrate his point.

“As part of the series, we thought we should give away a car,” Dykstra said. “We were just sitting in a meeting and thought, “Why not?’ ”

The Crossing was able to secure one new car mostly donated by a dealership (with a little cash raised from members) and is working on another to give away.

Dykstra is part of a group of young pastors mentored by Cornelius. Dykstra mentioned the car to Cornelius during a meeting a few weeks ago.

“Then he calls me two days later and said, ‘Hey, I think we’re going to get several cars,’ ” Dykstra said. He’s been inspired to try to gather more prizes for his members, but he doesn’t expect to outdo Cornelius and Bay Area.

“He took our idea and he blew it up,” Dykstra said, laughing. “It’s not really a competition. It’s more like he’s going to win.”

Cornelius asked church members to donate during services two weeks ago. The response since has been overwhelming. The plan was promoted as a $1 million giveaway, but the actual value is going to be much higher. The 15,000 gift bags alone are worth $4.5 million if all the goods and services are cashed in. The coupons have no cash value.

“Our people have been incredibly generous,” Cornelius said. “We have people writing checks for cars for people they don’t even know.”

Among the 15 cars — all used but with low mileage — are an Audi A4, Jeep, Chevy Aveo, Mazda RX8, Volkswagen Jetta, two BMWs, Chevy Avalanche, Jaguar and two Mitsubishi Eclipses.

Cesar Torres, owner of LOFI Motors on Ayers Street, is a member of Bay Area and volunteers in the children’s ministry. He’s the Audi contributor.

“(Cornelius) didn’t say whether it had to be new or old,” Torres said. “I’m sure he thought it would be something I couldn’t sell off my lot.”

The A4 is an ’04. It’s turbocharged.

“It’s pretty wild they’re going to give $2 million worth of goodies away,” Torres said. “Can you imagine? Everything always works out for a reason. When God is behind something, all you have to do is believe.”

Some of the cars were donated by dealers like Torres, and the others were bought with cash donated by members. The cars were bought at dealer auctions to get the lowest prices, Cornelius said.

Wilcox Furniture also made a large donation of bedroom sets, recliners and other furniture. CEO George Moore estimates the total value between $12,000 and $16,000.

Moore and his family attend Bay Area, and he believes in the church’s mission to reach out to the unchurched.

“We hope that (the winner is) a person who has never been in a church before, or maybe a person who is suffering from some sort of addiction or who has some sort of troubles in their life. Maybe they’re going through a divorce. What we want to do is lift up those people.”

The church has received a donation of an iPod from a 12-year-old. Some donors are nonmembers.

“We’re kind of cashing in on the goodwill of the church for the last 12 years in the community,” Cornelius said. “And I don’t mean cashing in for the church. I mean giving it right back.”

Bay Area leaders expect more than double their normal weekly attendance — between 15,000 and 20,000 people — for Easter services. One car will be given away at each of the main campus services and one at each of the church’s satellite locations in Kingsville, Calallen, San Marcos and Alice.

A new satellite campus will open Easter Sunday at Cesar E. Chavez Academy on Corpus Christi’s Westside. That location will not have a car but will have between 200 and 300 bicycles for children.

The gift bags will include coupons for goods and services donated by local businesses, such as Corpus Christi Hooks tickets, a free night’s boarding at the Pooch Pad, a free chiropractic assessment and a free professional photography session and 8-by-10 print.

Cornelius wouldn’t allow discounts or coupons that require a purchase. Only purely free prizes.

“We really checked hearts on this,” he said.

The contest does have a few rules. Only attendees ages 16 and up will receive the gift bags and can put their names in a drawing for the big prizes. Those 18 and older are eligible for a car. The state requires insurance to accept a car prize, so the church will have an insurance agent on site in case the winner needs it.

The church’s children’s ministry will give away age-appropriate prizes for children.

Cornelius said he hopes the prizes go to those who need them.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if someone who wins turns around and gives it to someone who needs it more,” he said.

“A lot of people won’t come to Easter services because they think, ‘Well, I haven’t been good.’ ... That’s not what it’s about. You don’t have to be ‘good’ to come to church.”

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 2010/3/30 18:09Profile

 Re: Texas megachurch giving over $1 Million in door prizes this Sunday...

Yahooooooooooooooooooooo, Corpus Christi here I come!

 2010/3/30 18:15

 Re: The door Prize to get to be with anti-Christ.

The door prize to Heaven is Heaven. I wonder what the door prize to HELL is?

Do Not Love the World..... 1John2:15

15. "Do not love the world nor the things in the world If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.
16. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world.

17.The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever.

18Children, it is the last hour; and just as you heard that antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have appeared; from this we know that it is the last hour.

 2010/3/30 19:03

Joined: 2010/1/13
Posts: 42


I think it's outragious that a so called man of God thinks this is ok. So if the average unbeliever as well as most all of the "believers" who attended this "church" on Easter...what do you think will be on their mind and heart? Will it be Jesus and how he paid for our sins, or will it be...I pray that I win a new car? And once it's all said and done...those people who came just for the free stuff will be gone and never return. And for those believers, you've just set an example that it's ok to seek after created things instead of the creator.'s so crazy to see people doing things that Jesus never did and say it's ok. Matthew 7:22-24 If I was a preacher/teacher...this verse would always be a warning to me.

 2010/4/23 7:05Profile

Joined: 2009/12/11
Posts: 212

 Re: Texas megachurch giving over $1 Million in door prizes this Sunday...

Yeah, I read about this the other day. I did a Bible study that night and focused on persecution and North Korea. At the end I read an article about a woman who had been killed in North Korea for distributing bibles. I followed that up with this door prize article. You should have seen their faces. It was like I just keyed their car or something. It's like trying to mash to north ends of magnets to one another. You might be able to do it for a moment, but it just isn't supposed to work that way.

The scariest part about it is that most people don't see the error in it. There is so much carnality in our churches. Anybody know when Paris Reidhead preached Ten Shekels and a Shirt? He would get run out now days.

Matt Smith

 2010/4/23 7:22Profile

Joined: 2009/1/16
Posts: 319



how many Bible's would that buy for China? or other parts of the world that don't have God's word?

we are truly living in the last days...

hearing about this makes me physically ill...

a local church in Rochester, NY to draw in people during October 31st had 8000 lbs of candy...

When is all going to stop? I don't think heaven is rejoicing over a new car for somebody... can't drive them in hell...

1 Timothy 6 1Let as many servants as are under the yoke count their own masters worthy of all honour, that the name of God and his doctrine be not blasphemed. 2And they that have believing masters, let them not despise them, because they are brethren; but rather do them service, because they are faithful and beloved, partakers of the benefit. These things teach and exhort. 3If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness; 4He is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings, 5Perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself. 6But godliness with contentment is great gain. 7For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. 8And having food and raiment let us be therewith content. 9But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. 10For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. 11But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness. 12Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses. 13I give thee charge in the sight of God, who quickeneth all things, and before Christ Jesus, who before Pontius Pilate witnessed a good confession; 14That thou keep this commandment without spot, unrebukable, until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ: 15Which in his times he shall shew, who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords; 16Who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto; whom no man hath seen, nor can see: to whom be honour and power everlasting. Amen. 17Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not highminded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy; 18That they do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate; 19Laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life. 20O Timothy, keep that which is committed to thy trust, avoiding profane and vain babblings, and oppositions of science falsely so called: 21Which some professing have erred concerning the faith. Grace be with thee. Amen.

Doug R

 2010/4/23 9:34Profile

Joined: 2006/11/7
Posts: 1178


Well DougRenz spoke my very thoughts:

hearing about this makes me physically ill...

I thought I want to throw-up.

Jhn 12:32 And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all [men] unto me.

1Jo 2:15 Love not the world, neither the things [that are] in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.

1Ti 6:8 And having food and raiment let us be therewith content.

Much of the church is giving a false image of what being a christian is all about. God has been turned into the candy man. The prosperity gospel is a stench in the nostrils of God. I am sure that these "wonderful generous" folks are expecting cars, couches, money, etc. in return. You got to get the 100 fold. How about the persecutions, do they want those too?

Also these folks like to tell everybody, I gave a car, or whatever. Tooting their own horns.

Mat 6:4 That thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly.

Have not these folks patted themselves on the back for their great giving?

Mat 6:2 Therefore when thou doest [thine] alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.

It will be pretty bad when all these "great givers" stand before God and find out it counts for nothing.

We need to pray folks because these duped lost folks are being hardened in their hearts by this false gospel. God help us to speak out and declare it to be so.

I am sick too. Real sick of this whole thing.


 2010/4/23 10:28Profile

Joined: 2009/10/30
Posts: 8

 Re: Texas megachurch giving over $1 Million in door prizes this Sunday...

Another ministry of men and flesh trying to figure it out in their own strength and intellect. Do they not realize that they look just like the world? How about restoring sight to the blind and giving the lame their walk back? The Jesus style of promoting the kingdom!

Don Dewald

 2010/5/4 15:09Profile


I think the real question is... what kind of cars were they giving away??


 2010/5/4 15:29

Joined: 2007/9/13
Posts: 1752


free cars. Most like that model I presume.


 2010/5/4 15:59Profile

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