Saturday, August 07, 2010

GUEST BLOG: Ken Eastburn - Go to Church, Win an iPad

A few weeks ago our family visited a local church. A week earlier we had met their youth pastor who had invited our two teenage boys. We attend house church and presently we don’t have any other teens attending so we thought it would be nice to take our boys and see if they could connect with other kids.

On that Sunday they were advertising an evening Vacation Bible School. Our six-year-old boy was interested in going and we thought it might be fun and a good learning experience, so we signed him up.

On Monday evening my wife took our son and stayed with him for the whole time. She said that the staff did a really good job of keeping the kids interested and teaching them songs and bible stories. When they returned home I asked our son how he liked it. His answer was, “it was great! Can I take some friends tomorrow?”

Wow! I thought. He must have really liked it. Then he told me that whoever brings the most friends over the whole week would win an iPad. An Apple iPad?! Seriously? What would a six year old do with an iPad? Surely he was mistaken. They must have meant and iPod. Probably and iPod shuffle, I thought. Those are only around $50. I could see them giving one of those away.

The next night my wife took him back to VSB but didn’t stay the whole time. I returned later to pick him up. As we walked to the car I asked him what he had learned. I was excited that he told me all about a bible story that he learned. Then he followed up by asking, “Can I call my cousin and ask if he could come tomorrow? I really want to win that iPad.” They must be really pushing this iPad thing.

It was the same story for the next two days. “VBS was great! I need to win the iPad.”

Then came the final night night, Friday night, the grand finale. This was the night that family was invited. After VBS the pastor gave a short message. Then came the moment we all had been waiting for. Who would win the coveted iPad?

The pastor invited everyone who had brought friends to come to the front. Many kids went forward. Then he went down the row of children asking them how many people they had brought. The ones who had only brought one or two people seemed a little embarrassed. There was a courtesy round of applause for them.

Then, one young man announced that he had brought seventeen visitors. There was thunderous applause and hoots for him. All of his visitors stood. He was a shoe in to win.

After all of the visitors were recognized the pastor held up the iPad, still in it’s box. Yes, it was truly a brand new ipad. I must admit that I coveted it a bit myself. I have wanted an iPad since I had played with one at the Apple store.

Now was the time. The pastor held up the iPad box and made an amazing announcement. The winner would not be announced tonight. In fact there was still hope. You see, anyone who brought visitors on Sunday would receive DOUBLE POINTS!!! That’s right boys and girls. You still have a chance! The iPad could still be yours! I saw my son’s head turn around and his eyes fixed on mine. Could it still be true? Is there still a chance? Can I bring friends on Sunday Daddy?

My heart sunk. I understand inviting people to church. I understand that our mission is to pray for unbelievers and to invite people into the Kingdom. Maybe we are supposed to use any means at our disposal, even Apple iPads. But this did not feel good. “No, son. We will not be coming back on Sunday.”

After that Friday night VBS meeting I had a long talk with my son. I told him that we don’t go to church to win prizes. We go to learn about Jesus so that we can help others. I was surprised that he seemed to really understand and agree with me.

I don’t think we will be returning to that church anytime soon.

In our house church we have been trying to learn about loving and blessing each other. Of course that is a hard pill to swallow in this consumer driven culture that we live in. It’s about us, right? It’s about getting our needs met, right? It’s about enjoying the “experience” of church, right? Right?

Well…no. No it’s not.

The irony of the fact that I am typing this blog on my MacBook Pro doesn’t escape me. I am just as addicted to “stuff,” especially technology stuff, as the next person.

At the same time God is teaching me to take baby steps toward being more humble and generous. And if I attend a church meeting, if it is in a big building or in a house, I hope that my motivation is to love others, not to win an iPad

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