Daytime TV seems to have the answers to everything.
And when the subject matter isn't as shocking as it used to be, let's spice it up a bit by not only showcasing some new gimmick or product on the market - and proceed to give it away to everyone in the studio audience. Oh, and let's allow the first couple of hundred viewers at home to text something from their cell phones so they get in on the giveaways, too. Nice touch; keeps people watching.
First Oprah, then spreading to Ellen (DeGeneres) and even Dr. Oz - are all giving away stuff on a regular basis on their TV shows; and this isn't throwaway stuff, either. To start her most recent season (and her last on over-the-air TV), Oprah announced that she was taking everyone in the audience that day with her to Australia. Other big-ticket items have been cropping up as giveaways on the daytime shows, too.
So what if the concept spread to our churches?
How would you feel if on, let's say the First Sunday of Advent, the presiding minister announces that everyone in attendance at Mass or worship services has just been gifted with a new bedroom set? Or a car? Even the idea of a "Golden Ticket" randomly placed under one of the seats or in a bulletin? I solemnly assure you, attendance would go way up. And isn't that what our Church leadership wants - packed services every week?
(Now this is an offshoot of another subject about which I want to write more extensively, and I'm still formulating how to get it out there. Bear with me, it will get in the blog.)
The idea of attracting someone with a free gift is not new, you know. It's been around a long time...and it even has divine origins.
Think about it. God gifted the people of 1st Century Palestine with His very Presence. All those miracles Jesus performed, recorded in the Gospels - those up close who witnessed them were gifted with the grace to see that this was no one-time flash-in-the-pan experience. This was a paradigm. This was life-changing, with the potential for more life-changing, even to those who weren't present.
As people of God we are given the ability to shape our own destiny and influence that of those around us. We don't have to have amassed huge resources or sponsorships to do so - we've already been given them, and we don't have to go out of our way to share them. There are plenty of places to be better than we are right within our grasp.
God, let me be open to that concept today.