What’s Wrong With Promotions?

By: Dr. Wally Beebe

Luke 9:49, 50 “And John answered and said, “Master, we saw one casting
out devils in thy name; and we forbade him, because he followed not with

And Jesus said unto him, Forbid him not: for he that is not against us
is for us.”

III John 9, “I wrote unto the church: but Diotrephes, who loveth to have
the preeminence among them, receiveth us not.”

Today we have followers of men into ramps that are “pro” and “con” about
most everything. Christians are fighting over who are the real
fundamentalists and the sin of jealousy is probably more numbered among
Christians, and preachers especially, than most any other sin. I thank
the Lord that Cod uses us in spite of our stupidity and our pride.


We hear charges “that is of the world,” or that church is a “circus
church, a gimmick church,” by folks who either have never had a church
in their life, (or are associated with these in some manner). They are
trying to stop people who are getting people to Jesus because they are
doing it the “wrong” way. Basically the argument is against the use of
promotions or incentives to get people to come and hear the gospel.
Psalm 75:6, 7 “For promotion cometh neither from the east nor from the
west nor from the south but God is the judge: He putteth down one, and
setteth up another.”

According to Webster’s Dictionary, to PROMOTE means: 1. to encourage the
growth or improvement of, 2. raise to a higher rank, class, or position.

The word PROMOTION means: 1. act or effect of promoting, 2. advancement
in rank, 3. an enterprise being promoted. Here are other words used to
describe similar activity. An inducement: 1. a premium offered to make a
sale. 2. reward, the meaning is obvious and since Scripture abounds with
the word “reward,” “He is the rewarder of them that diligently seek
Him,” “And His reward is with Him,” etc., etc., it would be very
difficult for a Christian to ever say a word against rewards since the
judgment seat of Christ is the place where they are passed out.

INCENTIVE: something that insights to action, motive, stimulation, etc.

Here are the words used most to describe promotions in church and Sunday
school. GIMMICK, 1. any small concealed device used for trickery, 2. any
means of tricking the unwary. In someone’s wildest dream I do not see
how you could feel that giving a New Testament to someone bringing three
visitors or breakfast on the bus, or a Mcdonald’s hamburger lunch could
be a “small concealed device used for trickery” or a “means of tricking
the unwary.” It is absurd to even use that terminology, but yet some
people do. Most of the time it is because they have heard someone else
use it and have never really checked out what they are saying.

BRIBE: Webster says, 1. a gift or promise given unethically in return
for a favor. How could this possibly be construed to be a piece of
bubble gum given to a child to gel him to ride the bus so that he can
hear about how he is lost and needs Christ as his personal Saviour?

These words should be included as well – premiums, contests, prizes,
etc. Where is this sinister, horrible, sinful, unscriptural, thing that
would harm the souls of men forever because it was used to get them to
hear the gospel?

Perhaps it is in the word GIMMICK. Some people have said that gospel
magic, puppets, gospel films, show-n-tell visuals, wordless books,
parades for Vacation Bible School, dinner on the grounds, gospel music,
etc., are gimmicks to get people to Sunday School. 1 would plead
absolutely guilty! If you mean “something” to get someone to Sunday
School, (but it’s NOT a gimmick.) Yes, I plan, like Paul, to be “all
things to all men that by all means I might save some.” If that is not
what your life is invested in, then you are certainly investing in the
wrong thing.

A person must use logic in bringing the criticism to its conclusion. If
it is wrong to give a meal to poor children on a bus, then it is wrong
to have dinner on the grounds and invite a poor grandma to come (or poor
people that live next door). However, no one in his right mind would
criticize a person having someone come for lunch in order to get them to
attend a service of a revival meeting. Yet, some of these same people
would cry and scream about having donuts and milk on the bus as being a
terrible thing to harm the souls of men.


Let me say that God is not concerned about how a person gets to Sunday
school or church. You could drive, walk, take a train, or ride a
skateboard. That doesn’t change your need. People do no! criticize the
child who walks in two blocks, but will criticize the child who rides
the bus two blocks as being “not one of ours.” Our primary motive must
be to get the person under the sound of the gospel so that they in turn
can be worked on by the Holy Spirit of Cod and the Word of God, so that
they may be convicted of their sins and thence trust Jesus Christ as
their personal Saviour.


If your motivation in contests and promotions is to try to “beat”
another church or put it out of business, then certainly you are wrong
and sinful in your motivation. If the motivation is to build a name for
yourself and your denomination. then, of course. using other people to
do this is a sinful act and should be dealt with spiritually in your own
heart. But if the motivation for having contests and promotions is to
get people under the sound of the gospel, then you will be in good
company, for the Lord Jesus rang the bell of healing so people would
come and hear the message of the Word of God. Jesus fed the 4,000 and
the 5,000 in order to allow the people to hear what He was teaching and
preaching. In John chapter 6, he said, you did not come to hear the
teaching, but you came because of the loaves and the fishes. He said not
to labor for those things that perish, but rather for those that do not
perish, the teaching of the Word of God. He was not criticizing Himself
for putting out loaves and fishes for He turned around and fed 4,000
loaves and fishes again. He was saying for them to distinguish that
these things were incidental to the gospel. So are promotions incidental
to the gospel, but they are a means where people will come to hear how
to get saved. (John 6:21-27, Mark 8:19, 20)


Let me explain that I do believe there is a danger in why a person
offers a promotion as I previously staled and what promotion is offered.
Many times people will discover that promoting is an excellent way to
get people to come and they will go to extremes without taking thought
of the future. I have said repeatedly that you should only use
promotions that you can live with ten years from now. (Not do things
that could be construed as being unscriptural, unethical, unfair,
illegal, or wrong.) One fellow, in a revival meeting, said, “Come
tomorrow night and see something that has never been done before in the
history of this world.” People came and the man opened a peanut! It
certainly had never been opened before in this world, but it is a rather
cheap trick to get people to attend. I don’t think that’s in good taste,
but I don’t think it’s unscriptural or wrong. There are some people who
believe that anything for a crowd is justifiable in God’s sight. I do
not believe that and never have.


I’m thinking of a church who takes their kids to a ball game on Sunday
(big league national team) and gets all of them free tickets and thence
a gigantic crowd. Since I don’t want them going to a ball game next
Sunday, I don’t take them to a ball game this Sunday. I’ve been a
preacher too long and have been fighting “little league” on Wednesday
night, during revival meetings, during visitation, and yes, even on
Sunday nights sometimes. I’m not against “little league” when they don’t
meet in conflict to the church services, but I believe you owe God more
than you owe the team. I know of another church that showed a Walt
Disney film during the children’s church hour (for an hour and a half).
I think that is definitely wrong because it has nothing to do with the
gospel, it will take away from the gospel that will be preached later on
— I’m not excited about Walt Disney films anyway. Although they are
attractive and entertaining and supposedly clean, they advocate witches,
wizards, (in a good light) dragons, etc. I read about one dragon in the
Bible and he is not a friendly dragon, but instead, is the Devil
himself! Walt Disney’s films are humanistic, evolutionary, and are not
going to back up the gospel message that will be given later.

Next, it would be impossible to compete with an hour and a half of
Technicolor, super sound, magical effects, supernatural things (making
the children believe that the miracles of the Bible are just another
Walt Disney story), etc. I think the length of the film is also an
important factor. Fifteen to thirty minutes of gospel is in not in wise
proportion to a two-hour period of time when the rest of it is spent on
Walt Disney’s laugh-a-minute film. No, I do not think that it’s
Scriptural or right or beneficial to show a Walt Disney film for
children’s church, in order to get someone there to attend the services.
A gospel film, yes. A thousand times, yes! A worldly film or classical
film or cartoon film or family film – NO!

Those are two negative examples. I do not give away transistor radios as
prizes for bringing visitors, etc. You are simply putting a “rock and
roll” radio station in the ear of that teenager. (unless the radio can
be fixed on a Christian station permanently)


“But I thought . . . thou shalt not use . . . bubble gum . . .
excitement, kites, feeding people, etc. . . . ” What you and I think is
absolutely irrelevant. Eve thought the fruit of the tree in the garden
was good for food, but she was wrong! All of what we do in the Lord’s
work must be measured by the Scriptures and the doctrines taught
therein. Mark 7:7 says that Pharisees taught the traditions of men as

I am sorry to say that most of the criticism of the bus ministry, the
promotions and big days you have in Sunday school and church, are the
results of jealousy on the part of someone who doesn’t have a crowd who
is justifying his position. There are many sayings that sound very
spiritual but they have no basis in the Word of God nor are they
sensible once you think them over. For instance, “I can worship Cod out
in the wilderness next to nature better than I can next to a group of
sinners in church.” Sounds good, but in reality God said in Hebrews
10:25 “Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner
of some is . . . ” Another saying that sounds real good but is not true
is, “People coming to church services should simply be coming to hear
the gospel and because they love the Lord and not to receive some prize
or reward.” Sounds great, doesn’t it? The only trouble is it isn’t true.

Have you ever analyzed the reasons that people come to act under the
sound of the gospel? I have. No matter why they came the gospel is still
the power of God unto salvation and they can be saved no matter what the
reason they had for coming in the first place. The why has absolutely
nothing to do with it. It is preposterous to say that a person has to
love the Lord in order to come to church. How can someone who is not
saved love the Lord in order to come to church?

Here are some of the reasons some of us came to church.

1. Had to go because parents made you go.

2. Because someone invited you, your boss, fellow-worker, fellow-

3. Went to meet someone at church. (perhaps business reasons)

4. Was curious about the great crowds or meeting that was going on.

5. Went to find something to criticize. Jesus and Paul always had these
— reference Acts 17:18, “What will this babbler say?”

6. Went to date a boy or girl who was at the service.

7. Went to break up the meeting and cause a disturbance.

8. Went to get out of the cold or heat into the air-conditioning.
Spurgeon’s conversion e.g.

9. Was a captive audience, e.g. jail services.

10. Came because of a free meal, free lodging, free clothes,
e.g. rescue missions all over the world.

11. Because of free medical attention e.g. Hudson Taylor’s Missionary
work in China as a medical missionary (founder of China Inland
Mission) All medical missions including hospitals, etc.

12. Attend a Christian school, etc., etc.

I don’t know what you have to do to convince people that it makes
absolutely no difference why a person came under the sound of the
gospel, but simply that he or she understood the Word of God, received
it, and then trusted the Saviour after repenting of their sins! By the
way, many people have heard the gospel for the first time going to a
wedding or a funeral. I don’t know many funerals that I would like to
attend, very frankly, but you have to because of family or friends and
relationships. Therefore the person did not come to hear the gospel
whatsoever, but came for another reason entirely, but did hear the
gospel. I’ve had many folks saved at funerals and I’m sure most every
pastor has.

No, as long as the method used (promotion, incentive, etc.,) is not
unscriptural, nor counter productive to the gospel, nor counter
productive to separated living, it is perfectly all right to use it to
get someone under the sound of the gospel.

Most of the people who are in Lester Roloff’s homes in Corpus Christi
are not there because they decided it would be a nice place for a
vacation. Most have gone there because the court has ordered them to
either go there or go to jail or because it is part of a term of their
probation or someone forced them to go. (Using the psychology of the
critics of the bus ministry, they should not be forced to go there at
all.) However, scores and scores of those young people find Christ as
personal Saviour after listening to the intense preaching of the Word of
God and gospel music, Scripture reading, and sermons that are constantly
played in their hearing. Yes, there is force involved and we exercise a
similar, but different force in the power of promotion and incentives to
get someone under the sound of the gospel.

Dr. Bob Jones, Sr. said, “Be stubborn in matters of principle but never
in method or means.” (copied from one of his chapel messages at Bob
Jones University)

Yes, I am stubborn in the matter of principle about a promotion (and
make sure your pastor approves what you are going to do about it), but
methods may vary as long as they’re honest and Scriptural.

A fellow wrote me the other day and said one of his biggest days was
when he had a “roach race” at his church in Louisiana. Frankly, that’s
not exactly appealing to me, but perhaps it would get some of the kids
to come with their pet insect and if they heard the gospel and got saved
at a roach race, God bless them! It sounds more scriptural to say that
someone came just because of the strong spiritual stand and Christian
testimony of the church but most people don’t go to a church because of
that anyway. The majority of folks attend services because they feel a
warm, spiritual atmosphere (not necessarily created by the pastor) and
they could care less what the church really stands for. If they feel
welcome, have had a cordial welcome, they will come and listen to the
preaching of the Word of God and take it in. Jim Jones (no relation to
Bob Jones) who was heretic and super in con-man plus murderer, won his
converts to Jonestown through taking in people the fundamentalists
wouldn’t take. Pimps and perverts and harlots were welcomed and shown
love (at first)in the name of religion even though there was a false
prophet at the head of the organization. People flocked to him and gave
their life savings and yes, all they had, including their lives, towards
this strange movement because of the fact they were taken in on face-
value and worked with. We could take a lesson from this that we may be
missing-the-boat among people who are less fortunate and do not live in
the lifestyle that we like to live in of honesty and purity.

Yes, we can use promotions, it is Scriptural, we have Biblical example
behind it.

I’m sorry to say that scores of preachers have quit the bus ministry
because the going got tough and they found out there was more work
involved in it than they had anticipated. After trying to resurrect a
few old wrecks of buses and trying to enlist worker, the final straw
that broke their back was a critical attitude by some other preacher or
an institution or college who questioned their motives or criticized
their methods.


You and I are wholly responsible to God for our methods and so we’d
better be assured Scripturally that what we are doing is in line with
what God wants done to reach souls for Christ. I am thoroughly convinced
of it and have weathered many storms or objections to find my solace in
the Word of God and my firm foundation – Scriptural truth.

Because of brevity here are some of the references that you can look up
in your spare time that God is interested in using a system of rewards
to get people to do things spiritually or physically. Psalm 58:11,
Isaiah 40:10, 62:11, Matthew 5:12, 10:41, 42, 16:27, Mark 9:41, Luke
6:23, 6:35, I Corinthians 3:8, 3:14, 9:17, 9:24, Philippians 3:14,
Colossians 2:18, II John verse 8, Hebrews 11:6, Revelation 22:12, 11:18.

I have written this article to try to get our readers to understand that
you will be criticized by unsaved and saved alike, no matter what you do
in God’s work and especially if it is successful to any degree.
Therefore plant your feet firmly on the Word of God and the example of
the Lord Jesus Christ in these matters, realizing the end does not
justify wrong means, but that the bus ministry, promotions, contests,
are not wrong Scripturally or practically. Let’s take the fall of the
year and dive into the natural holidays and promote for Jesus’ sake the
spreading of the gospel and the reaching of the lost for Christ.

There may be some preacher who still says, “Well, I’m against
promotions.” Then to you, brother, I say, take down your sign, remove
your newspaper ads, don’t ever mail anything out to tell that you’re
going to have a service and as Dr. Glen Schunk used to say, “Why don’t
you turn off the lights too when you have service so that the Holy
Spirit will send them in?” How ridiculous and illogical, but yet because
you have heard someone say it, you have rallied around that point. Now
let’s go get them for Jesus!


Be sure to sow the seed on the routes.. Don’t be afraid to sow the seed
to anybody you meet on the bus route.


1. Invite them to worship with us.

2. Tell them that Jesus loves them.

3. Tell them that the church is just not for the children.

4. Ask them about their spiritual experience with Jesus.

5. Share with them your testimony.

6. Ask for prayer requests, pray right there or later, however the
Spirit leads you.



It seems such a tendency to be content doing a job, but not giving it
our all out best.

I talked to a young man a few weeks ago who seemed so content in running
60 on his bus week after week, year after year. After discussing in a
few minutes, he stated how seldom he makes new visits and wins just a
few souls. but is happy with what he has. He told me how his bus has
approximately 20 streets. and he has never visited half of them (he has
been on the route for six years), but he is so happy to be running 60.

Sure, it’s great to have 60, but what about the many other doors that
have never been knocked on? “How many homes did you knock on, Jo Jo
Moffitt,” I asked myself and then realized we sure have our excuses,
don’t we.

It seems that Saturday is the day the dryer goes out, sink plugs up, a
sock gets stuck in the washing machine pump, kids get sick, the dog
bites the mailman, the car breaks down, we have no cash for gas and the
station won’t accept a check, our calling partner can’t go out, you lose
your purse and a hundred other things to discourage you and detour you
from going out on bus visitation. I just live expecting the challenges
and going to Plan B when Plan A falls through. I often can judge the
blessings of Sunday by the trials of Saturday.

After talking to that man, I was rechallenged to give my best to my bus
route — they need it and they deserve it. I never want to be satisfied
with 50, 60, etc., when I know I should be doing more.

I jotted down a few things to help me give my bus nothing but the best.

I. Want the Best for Your Route and make it come to pass. Be on time, be
exciting, plan new ideas for programs on the bus, visit at least 15 new
doors a week, have special weekly promotions and tell them that your’s
is the best bus.

2. Overlove them. You never can love them enough. Tell them and show
them, hug them, brag on them and tell their parents you love them. Why
not take time to jot them a personal love note and put it in a cupcake
this week and let them know you love them?

3. Set a Goal For Next Week and Make It. Share the goal with your kids,
pray for it, work for it and then rejoice when God gives it to you.

4. Be consistent. Never miss visiting, go out the same time weekly to
discipline yourself, go out because you want to go out not because you
have to go out! Always follow through if you promote something or you
are a liar in the eyes of your riders.

5. Have Double Door Saturday and visit 30 new doors. God will bless this
as this was my goal this past weekend and I did it and had 41 new
riders. Praise the Lord!

6. Pray for bus riders’ needs, souls to be saved, bus to run, kids to be
healthy, kids to wake up — ask God to bless your efforts.

I pray I’ll be like Brother C.W. Fisk who for one full year visited me
when I was unfaithful to First Baptist Church. No, he never had any
excuses, but made sure to visit me every week I missed for one full
year. I’m so glad for examples of faithfulness.

Our excuses are so many,
Our blessings are so few,
I pray and pray, dear bus worker,
That this will not be me or you.

I never, never, never want to be satisfied – how about
Ecc. 9:10 “Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with all thy might.”

(The original publisher of the above material is unknown.)

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