— The Preaching and Teaching Ministry of Kevin A. Pierpont

ESV Bible Blog giveaway bummer

When I told my son Kevin about the ESV Bible giveaway that was coming on Monday, September 12 he was anxious to have a chance to get a copy of an English Standard Version Bible. I’ve been telling him how much I enjoy the ESV and he’s heard me quote it often in my preaching.

It’s a great encouragement to a father that his children desire to read and know God’s Word. That’s why I was a little disappointed on Monday afternoon.

Monday came and Kevin had asked the night before if he could go with me to Traverse City for a hospital call to one of our church members. We left at 6:30 to get there early, made a couple of stops in town afterward and were home by 1 P.M. Soon after Kevin went to the link on the ESV Blog and discovered that the contest was over already. He was disappointed.

I see in the ESV Bible Blog entry today that they may run their next contest later in the day to give those in other time zones a better opportunity at participating. But I have what I think is a better idea. Why not leave the contest open and do a random drawing from all the entries? That way more people have an opportunity at a great Bible and the ESV Bible Blog gets more exposure.

Hopefully someone at the ESV Bible Blog is listening.

Update 9/15/05: I got a nice email from Stephen at the ESV Bible Blog explaining their thinking behind the first-come, first-served giveaway. Which brings me to ask a question of you readers.

Would you or your church take offense at a “random drawing” for a Bible giveaway? If so, why? Proverbs 16:33 tells us that even The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the Lord. So is a “random drawing” truly random?

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22 thoughts on “ESV Bible Blog giveaway bummer”

  1. Pingback: ESV Bible Blog
  2. Although Proverbs 16:33 speaks of casting lots, and in Acts 1 the 12th apostle is chosen by lots – i don’t think lots are a legitimate way to make Godly decisions under the new covenant that we are in. Now that we have the fulfillment of things in Christ, why would we still cling to the shadows of the Old Testament?

    I wouldn’t even say that in Acts 1 they were right in choosing the 12th apostle in this manner. If Matthias was the 12th apostle was Paul the 13th? Also consider that the events of Acts 1 were before the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost.

    God is in control of lots, but He is also in control of the outcome of all events. So in that respect we must consider that God is not in “more” control through lots, He is in control no matter what method is used.

    Practically I would have to say that random drawings may not be the way to go. I generally don’t feel motivated to participate in random drawings, and I know of others that feel the same way. Not because it’s like gambling, but because it’s not based on anything.

    Perhaps the bibles could be given away for something a little more substantial than just first-come-first-serve or random drawings. Perhaps a contest of short paragraph essays (limiting the number of words of course), a logo design, web graphics, etc. etc.. This way the individuals entering actually do something to compete for the bibles, and the ESV people gain content that they could use on their website or somewhere else.

  3. I simply prefer the random entry method (instead of the 1st come 1st serve) because it gives more people a chance to win. The “right place, right time” setting doesn’t apply and everyone is on equal footing.

    Otherwise, set a criteria (essay, best bible pic, etc.) for a winner and let the people judge.

    The 1st come, 1st serve thing just doesn’t work well over the Internet…


  4. Being a Christian with a pretty decent understanding of my Bible (I hope 🙂 ), and being a computer programmer with a decent amount of experience in pseuod-random number generators, I know that the outcome of cast lots, fair coins, fair dice, etc (all real-world objects) is in the hands of God. Any formulaic method, such as I use on my website for ‘random’ sequence generation, is not random. It looks random, but it’s a formula. If you use a computer to pick the winners, the results are in the hands of a mathematical construct (perhaps quite complicated, but predictable).

    The catch there is to use something really complicated that no one in their right mind would want to predict, so that the outcome is ‘random’.

    I agree that submitting essays/pictures/etc is a good way of promoting the give aways, but judging those could become a rather subjective experience, unless they were opended up for anyone to cast a vote (with authors’ names hidden) with some kind of value scale (like 1-5), and have the X entries with the highest scores issued Bibles.

    It’s an interesting dilemma, certainly. You don’t want to turn anybody away, but you only have X many Bibles to give out.

  5. Well, I have to agree that God is in control regardless of which style of giveaway is done, but I do prefer the times ones – especially when they’re well advertised.

    A first-come, first-serve special generates more interest, in my humble opinion. More people will likely stay tuned to the blog so they’ll know what time they need to sign up – some may even go to the trouble of using an RSS reader and subscribing to the ESV blog to get up-to-the-minute news (as I did).

    It is incredibly disappointing to hear that your son missed an opportunity for a bible giveaway that he really wanted (I know the disappointment of a child is always difficult). But, I do want to ask a question in all grace – but wasn’t this particular giveaway targeted directly to youth pastors and not teens themselves (even if they are the child of a pastor)?

  6. Larry – about your question about this giveaway being targeted to youth pastors–the text on the ESV Bible Blog’s initial announcement lead us to believe it was for anyone including youth…here’s what it said…

    On Monday, September 12, 2005, we’re going to hold our second Bible giveaway. This time we’re aiming the giveaway at church youth groups (though you don’t have to be a member of a youth group to participate). Unlike our first giveaway, you don’t even need a website to enter.

    You’ll need the name of your youth pastor (or other pastor) and your church’s address and phone number. Come back Monday around 9:00 AM U.S. Eastern Time (GMT -4) for details. (Link)

    As for my son–God provides and he is well supplied. He wasn’t hurt just disappointed he missed it. It’s pretty cool when your teenager is disappointed that he missed out on a opportunity at free Bibles for he and his friends.

  7. I don’t think I’d have any issue with a random drawing. I do agree that God is sovereign over all things, and thus even over a cast lot. I too was a little dissapointed in not being part of the “first come” group, but hey, God was sovereign over that too!

    I like the “random” for the same reason Andy does: it opens up the opportunity to those who may only be at their computer a few times a day (maybe they’re too busy doing stuff they should be doing =p) and puts them on equal footing with people like me, who obsessively check their email every 10 minutes.

  8. The giving of complementary bibles, do have a way of generating discussion and interest. When I was in Seminary, Tyndale gave away copies of the New Living translation to all the students. This generated discussion on the Bible itself in class: Translation philosophy, use, etc. I found myself referring to the translation for illustrative purposes.

    Giving copies away for publicity ideas, particular praise on the translation, helpful critique, sales agents, pastors, event prizes etc, provide the most recordable benefit while productively encouraging those who would make effort to show how the ESV is the best essentially literal translation today.

  9. While I may not have gotten the bibles I wasn’t too disappointed just a little bummed that I wasn’t able to get them free. But I think that they can use this giveaway to get bibles sold with all the attention it’s getting and make people think “Since I didn’t win I might as well just buy one” then people will go and get one and then the people at the ESV bible blog will make money to cover the cost of the bibles they gave away. They also will make money off of the people that won because they will go out and buy more since they like the ones they received for free.

    Am I saying that the people at the ESV bible blog are doing this just to rake in the money? While they are selling these bibles to make money I also believe that they are trying to spread the word of God and get more people to read it and have an accurate and easy to understand version of the bible. So while I might be little bummed I agree with Mickey that I might of not won but “God was sovereign over that too!”

  10. Kevin:

    You are correct – I was wrong. I should have double-checked my facts instead of going with my obviously bad memory. Forgive me, brother.

    It is, truly, nice when your child is disappointed at not receiving bibles for he and his friends – I praise God that you’ve been graced with a son who has his priorities straight.

    I only pray that when my daughter gets to that age that she, too, would consider the scripture the precious gift that it is and want to share it with all her friends as well.

    Grace and peace.

  11. Hey, Kevin Jr. 🙂

    I have a nice pocket ESV that would be great for a young guy with really good eyes. If you treat me right I may just pack it up and mail it to you. Other than the old Majority Text thing, I really like the ESV and enjoy reading it almost every day. Let me know what you think about my offer.

    I am so pleased to see your love for Christ and your family and your knowledge of the Word of God. I look forward to seeing your affections for Christ continue to grow and then God only knows what he has in mind for you, “…no eye has seen… what God has prepared for those who love Him…”

    Send me your snail-mail address and I will inscribe it and send it out! I love you, Buddy.

    Uncle Ken

  12. The passages in the Scripture that speak of casting lots show God’s Sovereignty. This has not changed in the new covenent.

    Nothing happens by chance. I am all for “random” drawings but I don’t see any problems with the first come first serve method either.

    As a Christian you should know there really is no such thing as “luck” and/or “chance”.


  13. I’m pleasantly surprised at all the conversation this has generated for the ESV. It really is an excellent translation and the one I use exclusively at the church I pastor.

    I was one of the lucky 25 that made it in and have plans to put these bibles in the hands of some teens that truly need them. I have a few kids in my church’s youth group who have no access to bibles at home and will be thrilled with a glow-in-the-dark ESV to use in class and during service.

    As to the giveaways, I think it was done fairly and advertised well. For several days, the ESV blog reported that at 9am EDT (7am for us in Denver!) they would have another giveaway. Anyone who wanted to get in on the giveaway simply had to check it out at that time. I just left myself a note in my day-planner to get there and enter. This is quite similar to what the ESV folks did with their giveaways for the mini-ESV’s in exchange for a weblog link. First ones in won a bible.

    If any modifications would be done to bring the time factor into it, perhaps give away a similar number of bibles but give only a few of them away every hour on the hour until they are gone. For instance, at 9am EDT, say the first three churches in win. (12 bibles) and then wait until 10am EDT and give away 12 more. That would cover you for eight hours (assuming your last four boxes of four bibles) were given away last. That way, the contest runs from 9am-5pm EDT and everyone has a chance to win.

    I’m not sure I’d want to be the guy having to compile that contest or wait all day to do something that could be done in a few hours. From the time stamps on the ESV site, it took about 3 hours or so for the contest to close. To me, that seems pretty fair as to the amount of time people would have to win. But you could modify my suggestion for any amount of time you’d like….(24 bibles an hour for four hours…etc..)

    Just some random thoughts.

    Nice Blog Kevin!

  14. I echo Scott’s take on this. God is sovereign over a ‘random’ sweepstakes style, but I’ve never had any hope/expectation of winning a sweepstakes. And I think that God would need to send a deceiving spirit (e.g., ) upon the judges for me to win an essay/graphics contest. 🙂 With a first-come style entry, I feel like I’ve at least got a shot at it (though I recognize that God is just as sovereign over that).

    I agree with Scott that the ESV blog publishes the times/dates/plan clearly on their site. Offsetting the time as they suggested will help, but Scott’s suggestion of staggering the giveaway seems like it would drive even more traffic to their site while increasing the ‘chance’/opportunity for more people. (But on the flip side, I can imagine 50 different people across the US with a pre-typed email just waiting to hit ‘send’ once their computer clocks rolls over to the next hour.)

    Hmmm…don’t know that there’s any perfect solution, but still feel like a sweepstakes style giveaway would significantly dampen my enthusiasm towards the promotion.

  15. Well I like the choose at random method; A earlier review stated more people have a chance plus better exposure. I agree with this sentiment.Now about the other issue on lots ………..If I handed over A item of value in hope of a bigger value item in return that would make me a Gambler .Now if two people walk together and see a bicycle in the trash and they both want it obviously the bike cannot be divided in two for both to have, so one of the two people pulls out a quarter and calls heads or tails then flips the coin and the other person wins.. This I see it as Gods blessing for the winner.Now the winning person as the new owner of the bike has a obligation to share this bike.Now I am sure the winner of the bible will be glad to share with anyone who wishes to read it…{But now} I am not so sure who pays the postal fee. :]

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