Maryland church gives away five cars for free to encourage Sunday Mass attendance

A church in Maryland hoped to increase its attendance during the Sunday Mass with a massive giveaway. Five cars were handed out for free, and to win a chance at them, people had to join the services.

(REUTERS/Mike Blake)A car giveaway might not be a conventional way to encourage parishioners to join Holy Mass but it has worked for one Maryland church.

Pastor Stephen Chandler heads the Destiny Church that normally draws 1,100 people every week. However, he wanted to encourage non-believers to also attend the Sunday service and enticing them with free but used cars might just do the trick.

Last Sunday, Destiny Church saw its attendance balloon to 2,100 people. The timing was right as well as the church had just opened its new location near a strip mall in the Columbia district.

"We were just going for something you would not expect a church to do," the pastor said. "This is something you would not expect a church to do."

Up for grabs were used cars like a Chevy Cruze, a Dodge Journey, a Ford Escape, a Nissan Sentra and a Toyota Corolla. The church had also advertised that these cars would be given away and people had to book a seat to the Sunday Mass in advance online. All seats for the three services immediately filled up and a fourth service was added to the calendar.

"Different people have different things that bring them to Christ, to church," a mother who went to the Sunday Mass with her son said. "It doesn't always have to be traditional methods."

During the giveaway, the church asked people to write their stories and say why they needed the car. The church got 60 submissions that Chandler described as "heartbreaking" and one family in need was chosen from the letters. The remaining cars, however, were raffled off.

The pastor declined to reveal how much the church spent for the car but its bylaws allow for the congregation to give part of its tithes to charity. This is why Chandler used the money to purchase the vehicles since they planned to provide families with their own means of transportation.