Excerpts from: St. Petersburg Times, 1/10/2005: Church’s Hummer Prize Too Worldly?—Rodney Howard-Browne’s Revival Ministries International will give away a yellow, 2003 H2 Hummer during its Winter Campmeeting, which began Sunday and runs through Jan. 16.
The Campmeeting at the River will double as a celebration of 25 years in the ministry for Howard-Browne. He began pastoring in his native South Africa when he was 18 and calls himself the “Holy Ghost bartender.” Howard-Browne is known for spells of holy laughter, where followers are so drunk with the Holy Spirit they fall on the floor in hysterics.
“I think it’s an excellent idea,” said Randy White, televangelist and senior pastor of Without Walls International Church, one of the fastest growing congregations in Tampa with 18,000 members. “If this were MTV or any other secular market or organization, there wouldn’t even be anything written about it. I applaud Rodney.”
White said that his church has given away homes and paid electric bills for a full year to those attending his services. “It’s a bait on the hook to get people in to hear the message,” he said.
White said churches in the Tampa Bay area have to compete with nearby amusement parks and beaches. Concerts offer million-dollar pyrotechnics, he said.
“We’ll have a candle,” White said. “It’s just sad where the church hasn’t stepped up.” White plans to have Rhythm and Blues songstress Mary J. Blige at Without Walls for the Super Sunday service on Super Bowl Sunday. White says he’s working to get hip-hop stars Usher and Mace to also attend a service. Churches, he said, should be on the cutting edge.
“What would Jesus do?” asked White, pausing to recite a Bible text from John 14. “If you live right, you get a mansion. That’s a pretty good incentive. It’s better than a Hummer.”
“It’s a great idea. Ingenious,” said Randy Brummit, pastor of Brandon Assembly of God with about 400 members. “If I could give away a car a week, we would.”