Christian TV’s All-Time Worst Fundraising Gimmicks

by | Aug 10, 2010 | Blogs, Fire in My Bones

Let’s stop the
hypnotism, the guilt manipulation and the high-pressure gimmicks. It’s time to
reclaim our lost credibility.

Normally I’d
rather go to the dentist for a root canal than watch a telethon. But while
channel surfing a few nights ago I tuned into PBS and discovered that Aretha
Franklin, the legendary Queen of Soul, was hosting a fundraiser for the
network. Seated at a piano, she was offering a 5-CD collection of classic
rhythm and blues hits in exchange for a donation to public television.

It was simple.
There were no gimmicks, no games and no strings attached in Aretha’s offer. If
you gave the suggested gift, she explained, PBS would mail you a big slice of
American pop culture—including songs by Gladys Knight and the Pips, Smokey
Robinson, the Four Tops, Al Green and Aretha herself, singing her classic
“Respect.”

“I still don’t know what is more outrageous: That programmers allow such insanity on Christian television, or that gullible Christians fall for it year after year.”

My respect for
PBS was still intact when the telethon ended, thanks to this low-key,
no-pressure approach to fundraising. I can’t say that for some Christian
networks, which have shamelessly extorted money from viewers over the years
using heavy-handed guilt manipulation, hypnotic control and bizarre
Scripture-twisting.

During the PBS
telethon I wondered why Christian networks couldn’t simply offer music, books
or other premiums instead of resorting to the typical arm-twisting and
tear-jerking that we’ve come to expect. We need an overhaul in this area.
Somebody needs to lead the way in pioneering a new style of on-air fundraising
that doesn’t treat people like brainless zombies.

Here are five of
my least favorite fundraising tactics. I wish all of them could be banned from
the airwaves.

Gimmick #1: The magic Bible verse. You
know the drill. The evangelist quotes Psalm 37:37 and then announces that if
you will send $37.37 (“No more, no less!”) God will unleash all the blessings
of King David upon you. (Hint: The phones seem to ring more frequently when the
number seven is included in the Bible reference.)

Gimmick #2:
The urgent, time-is-running-out plea.
Before the preacher asks you to reach for your wallet, dramatic
music is piped in. Then “Reverend Cheatem” talks about how the crippled man
waited by the pool of Bethesda, hoping that the angel would trouble the waters so
he could be healed. “God is troubling the waters right now, my dear friend,”
the preacher says with his eyes closed. “Go to the phones now, before it is too
late. Only those who give in this holy, anointed moment will receive a
supernatural blessing in return.”

Gimmick #3:
The memorialized gift.

One popular evangelist announced on-air that she needed thousands of dollars to
build a prayer room. She promised that those who funded this noble effort would
receive recognition with special brass nameplates that would be mounted on the
wall of the facility. The implication was that people could buy prayer
coverage, sort of like a spiritual insurance policy. (I’m not surprised—since
this woman offered her loyal followers the status of  “spiritual son” or “spiritual daughter” if they paid a $1,000
annual fee.)

Gimmick #4: The
debt-breaking anointing.

One preacher who specializes in telethons has raised millions by telling
audiences that they are just one donation away from eliminating all red ink.
All they have to do is give a sacrificial gift (usually four figures) to the TV
network in the next few minutes. If they do this, God will wipe out their
debts, no questions asked. No lifestyle changes necessary. (This technique was
especially popular before the mortgage crisis.)

Gimmick #5:
The Day of Atonement offering.
This particularly odd strategy has been popular in the last
couple of years, especially among gullible Christians who believe God blesses
anything and everything that has the word “Israel” attached to it. The preacher
announces that if you write a check to their network, and wave it in the air
before you mail it (preferably while wearing a Jewish prayer shawl), God will
forgive your sins, restore your health, bring back your wayward children,
provide angelic protection and bless you with more than a dozen other special
favors.

I still don’t
know what is more outrageous: That programmers allow such insanity on Christian
television, or that gullible Christians fall for it year after year. Hopefully,
emerging leaders in the religious broadcasting industry will restore our lost
credibility by insisting on integrity, authenticity and good taste.

J. Lee Grady is contributing editor of Charisma and author of the new book The Holy Spirit Is Not for Sale. Follow him on
Twitter at
leegrady
.


CHARISMA NEWSLETTERS

Stay up-to-date with current issues, Christian teachings, entertainment news, videos & more.

The latest breaking Christian news you need to know about as soon as it happens.

Prophetic messages from respected leaders & news of how God is moving throughout the world. 


MORE FROM CHARISMA

Raise Your Praise!

Raise Your Praise!

These are the days that may leave you feeling defeated. You may be wondering when these present trials will end or how can you strengthen your faith for the battle as you wrestle against powers and principalities that come against you, in addition to the challenges...

7 Elements Needed for Revival That Will Usher in Reformation

7 Elements Needed for Revival That Will Usher in Reformation

Read Time: 1 Minute 9 Seconds What will turn the nations around? What will restore the world to sanity? There have been revivals from Old Testament times up through the year 2000. Today we need both a revival and a reformation. Here are 7 elements needed to usher in...

Messianic Rabbi: The Blessing of Esau Brings Freedom

Messianic Rabbi: The Blessing of Esau Brings Freedom

Read Time: 4 Minutes 55 Seconds Growing up in synagogue, I was taught about the heroes of the Bible: Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Joshua, David, Solomon and Samson. When I became a believer in Yeshua, the writings of the New Testament new heroes were added to the...

Mario Murillo: An Era of Mass Soul Winning Has Begun

Mario Murillo: An Era of Mass Soul Winning Has Begun

Read Time: 4 Minutes, 27 Seconds From the very first tent stake we drove into California soil, until now, there has only been one dream. And, after two years, that dream came true in Roseville. Roseville is the victory we have yearned for. It confirms that an era of...

God’s Strategy for His End-Times Church

God’s Strategy for His End-Times Church

Read Time: 2 Minutes 23 Seconds In this webinar, Grant Berry discussed the strategy the Lord is releasing for His end-time plans to reform His Ekklesia/church. God is revealing different focuses of this strategy to various parts of the body, especially as it relates...

How You Can Flow in the River of Living Water

How You Can Flow in the River of Living Water

Read Time: 5 Minutes, 2 Seconds A river is a source of life. As it is in the natural, so it is in the spiritual. Jesus told His disciples that if we believe in Him, "rivers of living water" will flow out from within us, from our hearts. "Anyone who believes in me may...

RECENT ARTICLES

Chris Reed Shares Prophetic Word on the Future of China’s Xi Jinping

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BEKEaNqZydk Read Time: 1 minute 20 seconds Unprecedented mass protests are unfolding right now across China. The country is seeing the largest pushback in decades,...
Cindy Jacobs Prophesies: Trust That He is There

Cindy Jacobs Prophesies: Trust That He is There

Read Time: 2 Minutes 42 Seconds It’s very interesting how the Holy Spirit will use things that you’re going through to not only prophesy to you, but also to prophesy over the body of Christ. In listening to other people and hearing what’s been coming out of their...

Have We Departed From the  Simplicity of Christ?

Have We Departed From the Simplicity of Christ?

Recently I heard a pastor say the following: "When I was pastoring and saw little fruit, I began to call those with potential to reach others for Christ to our home and to mentor them one on one. That's where massive growth happened in the people." Local pastors and...

Joyce Meyer: Becoming a Prisoner of Hope

Joyce Meyer: Becoming a Prisoner of Hope

Read Time: 3 Minutes 56 Seconds God is good. And He has a good plan for each of our lives. No matter what may be going on right now, God’s plan is unfolding. In the meantime, Romans 12:12 tells us to “be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer,”...

Pin It on Pinterest