Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
March 23, 1961

Trading Stamps

C. R. McRay, Sioux City, Iowa

The following article was taken from the Sioux City Journal, Monday October 10, 1960.

"CHURCH GIVES TRADING STAMPS FOR ATTENDANCE. Lake Wales, Fla. (AP) — The First Methodist church gave trading stamps to those attending services Sunday night.

Despite rain sprinkles, the biggest crowd for evening services in several months turned out.

Five stamps were inserted into the program passed out to each churchgoer entering the door. Each also got five mimeographed slips of paper called 'First Methodist church stamps.' The message on them read "these five stamps entitle you to participate fully in the Sunday evening services of your church. You will receive more than stamps through loyal attendance every Sunday night."

Members of the congregation craned necks, some in apparent disapproval at the noise and lights of a television crew filming the start of the service.

Following the services the minister said, "my own inclination is that we have made our point and that the issue is dead and we should let it stay dead.

"A small number think this idea of giving stamps is unwise, and they will be offended if we make it a regular practice."

In this modern world, every "gimmick" and scheme that can be employed in accomplishing the many desires sought after is used without taste and with an utter lack of understanding as to sense or reason.

One that has particularly caught my eye is the trading stamp. These are just what their titles claim. They are stamps (which are not free, as the customer pays for them indirectly) given to one, in the hope that the prize he may receive for the collection of them will continue to bear on his mind so intensely that he will return again and again to trade.

Up to the near past, at least to me, these have been kept completely in the field of secular activities; but alas, their use has now crept into religious activities, both in the denominational world, and the church of our Lord. There is no question in the minds of people who "think soberly" (Rom. 12:3) that those who practice the folly of the above are "modernists" in every sense of the word. The gospel of Christ alone is the drawing power of God. (John 6:44-45) One cannot rightfully entice people to obey (?) God by any other drawing power, including stamps. Notice there were only a few in this church who might object, and they only if this continued to be the practice. Nothing is said of its unscripturalness, but only that it is "unwise." Then, too, could one seriously think that one could not participate in the Sunday evening services without the five "church stamps?"

I was wondering when I read this, how long it would be until some of our own brethren would adventure into this field. Well, take a look at the following:

"STAMPS Attention: Minister, Bible Class Teachers, All Christians!!!

Will you please start a stamp campaign close to you! Please start a campaign in your Bible class, or start one in your home congregation. Start one in your neighborhood. We need the stamps for our school bus. Send any kind, we will convert them and use all of them to buy our school bus. This is a campaign that every one can take part in. Send your trading stamps as you receive them, as we need so many.

Thank you sincerely,

(signed W. B. Richter, Superintendent

Keep Them Coming

Tennessee Orphan Home Spring Hill, Tennessee It almost tempts one to begin a campaign in his "Bible class," or in his "home congregation," not to ask the church to contribute STAMPS, but to show why it should not be done.

Someone says, "Well, what is wrong with giving stamps to help orphans?" Nothing, as long as the individuals are doing it! By what (and whose) authority can I tell "my Bible class" or "my home congregation" that they are to do this? Looks like they are asking us to take up the "hobby" of collecting trading stamps to buy a bus!

They would, no doubt, seek to justify such action by the same authority (?) to take up a collection by classes, especially the ladies classes. This may be found in the book of Hezekiah, or the third chapter of Jude, but it isn't in my Bible (the one that came by inspiration). In The Philippine Mission News, published by the Southwest church of Christ in Los Angeles, California, for the month of October, we found the following.

"Ladies Class Supports Three Missionaries. Mrs. Chas. D. Brown recently sent a liberal contribution for the Ladies Bible Class at Stanwood, Iowa, which she teaches, and reported that the class is contributing to the monthly support of the Wilkeys in the Philippines, the Choates in Bombay, and the Thweats in Formosa."

When the resources of the congregations are being tapped, to the point where money is taken that ought to be used to preach the gospel, (which incidentally, is the thing the church is supposed to do and for which it was designed and purchased) it is no wonder that some have turned to another scheme of "raising money" to supply some physical need. The thing I am really wondering is this: "How many brethren who think this is scriptural, would say the Methodist did wrong in the use they made of the trading stamps? Would any? How long until they try the same thing to increase Wednesday night attendance? Yes, indeed, how long?"