New Light Christian Center Church says they’ll pay your rent or mortgage if you show up on New Year’s Day.
A church in Texas has come up with a clever way to increase church attendance. It is offering free mortgage and rent payments to members who attend the New Year's Day services. New Light Christian Center Church first made this announcement on its Facebook page with the caption “You don't want to miss this,” on Saturday, November 26. It is still unknown to the public exactly how much the raffle is worth as no details about the giveaway were given.
It is not unusual to find churches nearly half empty on New Year’s Day, but this church seems to have found a way to get people to church even after the New Year's Eve festivities. On its website, the church condemns how New Year's, Valentine's and Thanksgiving are celebrated, saying that it is “Contrary to the walk of holiness or sanctification” and that Christians, need to take a hard look at the effect these times have on their relationship with God. Also, it challenged followers to think about whether Jesus would take part in whatever way they spend their holidays.
One church official that preferred to remain anonymous said that the annual raffle is the brainchild of Bishop Hilliard. “It's just a way to encourage members to come on out to service even though its New Year's Day,” said the official. The number of lucky raffle prize winners is still undetermined but an announcement is expected to be made the night before or during the services.
Close to 30,000 members attend the New Light Christian Center Church in the Houston area according to its website. It boasts of multiple campuses across Texas. The church was co-founded in September 1984 by Bishop Ira V. Hilliard and his wife Bridget E. Harrison. The church received an honor as one of the Top Most Influential Churches in America. The ministry includes a nationwide television ministry, a credit union, aviation division, and an early childhood development center. The couple also founded the Association of Independent Ministries (AIM) fellowship, whose mandate was to mentor other pastors. The AIM membership currently comprises over 1,000 churches across the United States of America.
This is not the first time the bishop has spurred controversy. In 2013, a church newsletter told the members that if they contributed $52 towards buying new blades for his helicopter, they would, in return, receive “breaking favor” within either 52 days or 52 weeks. Hilliard wrote in a letter that his aviation manager while repairing the helicopter in question stated that it would “save the ministry well over $50,000” in the future if they upgraded the helicopter blades immediately.