Going to church pays off -- now instead of later

charityThe prospect of eventual salvation is sometimes less compelling than the immediate gratification of sleeping in on Sunday morning.

An Alsip, Ill., minister has found a way to counter that impulse, however: pay parishioners to attend services at his church.

The Rev. Dan Davis of the Lighthouse Church of All Nations has been holding raffles for cash awards of $250 during his Sunday services for the past three weeks, and attendance has boomed to upwards of 2,000 per service, "reducing traffic outside of the church...to a standstill," according to Guy Tridgell of the Southtown Star.
His program is not just a gimmick, however. The sermons that accompany the raffles have focused on personal finance topics such as greed and debt, the temptations of easy credit, and how to live on a budget.

Davis told the Southtown Star that his church had lately been inundated with requests for aid, which inspired him to create this program. He has already received feedback from the church members that his message is causing some to make better financial decisions.

A number of churches have held "reverse offerings" recently, in which money flows from the church to it members to remind them of the biblical lessons of charity.

The Church by the Glades in Coral Springs, Fla., for example, held a service last year at which it gave out $40,000 to its attendees by passing around an offering plate full of envelopes containing cash. Each recipient was asked to spend the money not on themselves, but others, and to report the results of that gift on a Web site built for that purpose. The program was meant to counter the growing fear of generosity that the gloom of recession has spread.

During hard times it's all too easy to worry about not having enough money, but perhaps this too is an opportunity. Sharing what little you have during hard times seems much more virtuous than donating money when you have more than you'll ever need.
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