In Long Island (“Lon Gisland,” for you East Coasters) a church member placed a winning lottery ticket worth $3 million into the offering plate. And, yes, it was on purpose (video at Yahoo). The only restriction? That the donor remains anonymous. One article calls this an “answered prayer” in the headline (although it does not appear that this church hosted prayer meetings specifically asking that a member would win the lottery).
The church plans on donating the first year’s payout to various charities and then using the proceeds to find a larger facility.
Some churches have issues with accepting money won from gambling (which might be the reason a Florida church refused a $600,000 tithe). But, even apart from the gambling issue, I wonder if such a donation is good for the life of the church in the long run. It would be easy for church members to look at the bottom line and think to themselves, “Well, there’s always the lottery money. I don’t have to give.” I remember reading about one church that had received a huge inheritance in a will from a wealthy member who died and they ended up having to give it all away because of the problems it caused.
This is not so much about churches needing money, but our need to learn generosity and to give cheerfully.
The best part of this whole thing, though, might be that the winning lottery ticket came from a scratch-off called “Bada Bling” — only in Long Island!