Do prizes and giveaways help or hurt church growth?


In a time where attracting and retaining congregants has become increasingly challenging, churches often find themselves exploring unconventional methods to foster growth and engagement within their communities. One such strategy gaining traction is the use of prizes and giveaways to entice individuals to attend services, events, or participate in various church activities. While these incentives might initially seem like a promising approach, it’s crucial to delve deeper into their impact on meaningful church growth.

The Pros of Prizes and Giveaways:

Initial Attraction

Prizes and giveaways can undeniably draw attention. A free event ticket, a gift card, or even a small token can act as an inviting hook for newcomers who may not have considered visiting the church otherwise. This can be especially effective in reaching out to individuals who might be curious about faith but are hesitant to engage.

Community Building

When managed with care, giveaways can bring individuals together for a shared experience. Whether it’s a community service project or a fellowship event, these activities can help build a sense of belonging and camaraderie among attendees.

Breaking Barriers

For some, attending a new church can be an intimidating prospect. Prizes and giveaways can serve as a bridge, breaking down initial barriers and helping individuals feel more comfortable in a new environment. It’s also a great way to incentivize your congregation to invite their family and friends who might not otherwise be interested in attending church.

The Drawbacks of Prizes and Giveaways:

Superficial Engagement

While prizes and giveaways might attract attendees, there’s a risk of fostering superficial engagement. Individuals might attend solely for the incentive, and once the prize is obtained, their connection to the church could wane.

Distorted Motivations

When the primary reason for attending church shifts from a desire to grow spiritually and connect with others to obtaining material rewards, the core values of the faith community might be compromised.

Sustainability Concerns

Relying on prizes and giveaways as the cornerstone of church growth can create an unsustainable cycle. As expectations for rewards escalate, the financial burden on the church might increase, diverting resources from more meaningful initiatives.

Spiritual Transformation vs. Transaction

Meaningful church growth involves fostering spiritual transformation and personal growth. Prizes and giveaways might inadvertently emphasize transactional interactions, overshadowing the profound spiritual journey that church participation offers.

Striking a Balance:

While the potential drawbacks of prizes and giveaways are evident, it’s possible to integrate them thoughtfully into a broader strategy for church growth without compromising the core values of the community.

Purposeful Giveaways

Rather than simply offering incentives for attendance, consider giveaways that align with the church’s mission. For instance, a church focusing on community service could reward volunteers with tokens of appreciation, reinforcing the importance of service.

Holistic Engagement

Pair giveaways with opportunities for spiritual enrichment, such as workshops, discussion groups, or mentorship programs. This approach ensures that attendees are drawn in by more than just the allure of rewards.

Long-Term Vision

Emphasize the long-term benefits of church involvement over immediate rewards. Even as you leverage prizes and giveaways in choice moments, always encourage attendees to focus on personal growth, building relationships, and contributing to the community’s spiritual journey.

Prizes and giveaways can indeed serve as a catalyst for initial engagement and community-building within a church context. However, their impact on meaningful church growth ultimately hinges on how they are integrated into the larger mission and values of the community. A delicate balance must be struck between attraction and authenticity, between material incentives and spiritual transformation. When used judiciously, prizes and giveaways can contribute positively to church growth, provided they are part of a more profound commitment to fostering genuine connections, personal growth, and a deepening spiritual journey.

Josh Tarp, Author

About the Author

Josh Tarp is a multi-instrumentalist, singer-songwriter, and worship leader from Minneapolis with over 15 years of experience in church & worship leadership. Josh serves as the Director of Marketing at Motion Worship, helping to write various blog posts, managing social media, designing graphics, and handling customer service.

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