A Spirit-filled congregation in Maryland gave away five cars at its official grand opening this weekend.
"We were just going for something you would not expect a church to do," Destiny Church Pastor Stephen Chandler tells The Washington Post. "This is something you would not expect a church to do."
The paper reports the move was part marketing ploy, part theology. Giving away to people who show up to worship demonstrates God's unbelievable, no-strings-attached goodness, Chandler preached.
Chandler and his wife, Zai, pastor the predominantly African-American congregation. The church began in 2011 but recently moved to a new location.
According to its website, Destiny Church began in 2011 with 331 attendees. To grow his church, Chandler focused on reaching out to the non-churched community, building relationships through Connect Groups meeting throughout the city.
"The life-giving message of the gospel, the passion and joy of Sunday celebrations and the simple style of Destiny Church brought immediate results. In the first year 325 people committed their lives to Christ. At the same time, the church helped in the planting other churches through a partnership with the Association of Related Churches and gave over ten percent of its income to missions, according to the site.
The church initially met in a high school auditorium before moving into a strip-mall location in Columbia, Maryland. The car giveaway was used to attract attendees to their new home.
"I think the idea of generosity is not just something that applies to people that are in need," Chandler tells the Post. "We truly care about this community, whether you're in financial straits or whether you're in a good season of your life. We don't just care about the hurting. We care about every single person."
Destiny Church purchased the used cars with congregational tithe money from the last year. Typically, the Post reports, the congregation gives away 10 percent of the tithe money to charity. This time, though, the charity was its own attendees.
The church gave out tickets to the services and had 60 people write in why they needed a car. Of the five cars, one was given to a needy family, while four were raffled off.
"I think the idea of generosity is not just something that applies to people that are in need," Chandler says. "We truly care about this community, whether you're in financial straits or whether you're in a good season of your life. We don't just care about the hurting. We care about every single person."
Chandler and his wife both have ministerial backgrounds. Chandler is a pastor's son, while Zai found Christ through missionaries in her native Sierra Leone. Prior to pastoring Destiny Church, Pastor Stephen served as a student pastor and was involved in college ministry, and Pastor Zai was a discipleship pastor among various other volunteer positions in the church.
The church website indicates the congregation believes in both baptism of the Holy Spirit and practicing the gifts today.
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