(Photo: Element Church)
As many churches celebrate Easter with special church services and egg hunts including candy, one North Carolina church will be giving away an Apple iPad, Xbox 360 and two iPod shuffles.
The Shelby campus of Element Church, a recently established congregation of Cleveland County, will be holding a 12,000-egg hunt event at the Keeter stadium of Shelby High School.
Skipper Allen, campus pastor at Element Church, told The Christian Post that the Shelby campus would be doing this along with their other campus in Forest City.
"We have done an egg drop event at our Forest City campus for years now. This year we decided that we would continue doing it in Forest City, and in order to gain more momentum for our Shelby campus we decided to do the exact same service at the same time," said Allen.
"The Forest City service will be at McNair Stadium which is the home of the Forest City Owls baseball team. The Shelby service will be at Hoyt S. Keeter stadium which is the home of the American Legion World Series."
Allen explained that Easter Sunday will begin with a church service including "worship songs highlighting the resurrection" and a message from John 20.
"There will be an invitation given so that people have a chance to respond to the Gospel, and after all of that then we will have the egg hunt portion of the event," said Allen.
A helicopter will drop thousands of eggs, nearly all of which will be filled with candy save four of them which will have markings that make them redeemable for one of the more technological prizes.
Pastor Titus L. Hopper, executive pastor for Faith Harvest Church of Shelby, told CP that Element's giveaway idea is good so long as it's "done with the right motives, is free of manipulation and once the people get there they are showered with the love of Christ."
"Businesses market their products all the time and use giveaways and other enticing practices to get people into their doors," said Hopper.
"The church is in the 'people business' and we want people to have exposure to our product which is 'the Love and Truth of Christ!'"
The Rev. Charlie Wallace, senior pastor at David Baptist Church of King's Mountain, told CP he was more cautious about the idea of giving away an iPad or other things at Easter time.
"I don't see anything wrong or sinful per se in giving away an iPad so that people will come. However, pastorally speaking you must be willing to deal with the consequences of such people coming for that reason," said Wallace.
"The end goal should be to reach people with the Gospel and assimilate them into the church body. The lure of an iPad may get someone in your doors, but 'what next?'"
Allen told CP the chief reason for doing the giveaway at the Easter egg hunt was to reach out to people who are distant from God.
"We see giving things like iPads and Xboxes away as a tool to draw people in to hear about Jesus. Element church exists to reach people far from God and develop reproducing disciples one life at a time," said Allen.
"Jesus used attractional things, such as his miracles and feeding people, to draw people in to hear about the kingdom of heaven, and we are trying to do whatever we can to spread the Gospel."