Church vs Strippers

I’ve been following the story of New Beginnings Ministry in Warsaw, OH vs. Fox Hole Club a strip club. New Beginnings has been protesting in front of the club for about 4 years to get the club to close. Recently, the ladies of the club and the owner have been sitting in front of the church during Sunday morning services.Here’s the latest on the failed meeting between the owner and the pastor.  This reminded me of a story that I heard about 12 years ago.  I understand the story to be true, it was told during a church growth seminar by the District Superintendent of the denomination which was involved.

The story takes place in a town in Southern New Jersey. This particular church had gone through a split. There were about 10 or so members that had stayed with the Assistant Pastor. They met for prayer every Monday morning. Around the same time an adult bookstore opened in town. This became a matter of concern and prayer for the small church. Some wanted to stage a boycott of the bookstore. Others wanted to petition the elected town officials to see if there was something that could be done. It was decided not to take action, but to pray for the week and seek God’s will. The week went by, and they met the next Monday for prayer. One of the members of the group said that he felt God was leading him to do something totally radical. This member had a landscaping business, he would offer to do the landscaping at the adult bookstore. He felt that this would give him contact with the owner and he would let God use that contact.

The landscaper approached the bookstore owner with a deal he sorta couldn’t resist. He offered to do his landscaping for half the price of what the other business was dong it for. The only restriction woud be that he would not enter the store to be paid, the owner would have to come outside to pay him.

Time went on, the landscaper did excellent work, the Monday morning group prayed for the owner every week without fail. Whenever the landscaper picked up his payment he would tell the owner that his church was praying for him although he never “witnessed” to him. The landscaper also invited him to the prayer meetings.

One Monday morning the adult bookstore owner showed up at the prayer meeting. When I heard this story, it was described as he burst into the meeting. He said that he couldn’t take it anymore and he became a Christian. A couple of months later, the bookstore was closed and the owner became a member of the church.

To get back to the New Beginnings story for a moment. There are times when I believe that we fail to show the love of Christ to those we want to witness to. The question that I have for Pastor Bill Dunfree of New Beginnings is this: Which is more important, getting the club closed or ministering to the owner and the employees? Ministering might just do both.

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Published in: on 08/23/2010 at 9:46 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Quitting The Church

Unless you’ve been in a cave (or sitting on a lake in a cabin with no electricity in Maine) you’ve probably read or heard about Anne Rice quitting Christianity. I can understand how Anne feels. Her list of complaints and accusations are somewhat familiar to me.  I’ve felt estranged from some parts of the Church for sometime. By God’s grace I have found a body of believers who are tolerant of diverse beliefs. For many years, I attended churches where I felt very uncomfortable and distrusting of their applied Christianity. It wasn’t their beliefs that I was leery of, rather how they applied those beliefs to everyday situations.

Anne has articulated several points where she feels that Christianity(read the Church) is not living out what Christ is really about. Her list is rather interesting, quoting from her post:

I refuse to be anti-gay. I refuse to be anti-feminist. I refuse to be anti-artificial birth control. I refuse to be anti-Democrat. I refuse to be anti-secular humanism. I refuse to be anti-science. I refuse to be anti-life.

Most of her complaints are on real or perceived hypocrisy in the Church. Truth be told the Evangelical Church in America is known more for what it is against rather than what it is for. That, in itself, is a sad affair. Stop most people on the street and ask what Evangelicals believe and that person will list all of the anti- that has been espoused. Ultimately, Anne Rice’s statements might do more to solidify what the Church believes in a positive sense. The great creeds were all written in a positive style. “We believe” was emblazoned at the start of each line. If the Church wrote a new creed for today, could they embrace a series of positive statements?

Ms Rice is absolutely correct in her evaluation of the current state of some churches in America. They claim to be pro-life. However, they are only pro-life when they refer to beginning and the end of life. The rest of the time, not so much. They are quick to protest in front of a clinic that does abortions, sometimes hurling insults at those entering the clinic. They fail however, to help those who might need the help the most, the mothers. They create caricatures of the women going into the clinic without getting to know them and come beside them to help.

Evangelicals speak about having “Family Values” then their divorce rate matches the secular world. Evangelical teen pregnancy rate matches or exceeds secular teens. Despite these facts, they claim that the “institution” pf marriage will be damaged by letting  gay couples get married. Their argument would be much, much stronger, if those in the Church actually had the same respect for “Family Values” that they want to impose on others.

So, for Ms. Rice, this has become a very public protest. Some have not been comfortable with what has been said, others are claiming that Ms. Rice was never a Christian. Still others like me, support her and understand what she is going through. Public protests can develop into great public discussions and debates.What is needed is a discussion of what the Church will look like and act like in America. Hopefully, this discussion will now start.

Some other sites that have had brisk discussions

Internet Monk

Jesus Creed

Excellent post at St.Johnny.com

Excerpt From today’s Doug Paggit Show

Huffington Post

Published in: on 08/01/2010 at 7:28 pm  Comments (2)  
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Christianity in China

There’s an interesting NPR story on the Christian Church in China. Despite years of official atheism, the Church is flourishing. A good listen or read. Here’s the link.

Published in: on 07/19/2010 at 10:15 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Thinking Outside The Glass

One of my biggest gripes with most churches is that they tend not to think outside the box, so to speak. If we advertise at all, it’s usually in a relatively “safe” environment like the “religion section”  of the local newspaper. Some churches have even branched out into bulk/direct mail. I am proud to say that my church, Walnut Hill Community Church in Bethel, Ct  is now advertising on glassware at a local bar.

I checked with our Communications Director, Lisa Siedlecki . She told me that the glassware salesman approached her with the idea of putting advertising on glassware that he would be put in a  local bar and would she think the church would be interesting in sponsoring one of the ads. After consulting with the Senior Pastor and the Outreach Pastor  the decision was made to go with the glassware ads.

The response has been great according to Siedlecki, She’s been approached by people outside of the church, who ask if that’s really her church that’s on the glass. The reaction inside the church has been positive as well.

I really like the idea of advertising on the glassware. It’s different, particularly for a church to advertise or even associate by name with a bar. That association doesn’t necessarily mean endorsement, but it does create an interesting relationship. The fact that people have noted that they’ve seen the ad means that on one level it is working. Usually ads on glassware, table mats, and coasters are used to build name recognition. At the same time, response is traditionally not high. Any direct response to ads like this can be considered a win.

Advertising does create some questions for churches and other christian associations. Should we be concerned where we advertise? Should we be concerned with the association that the ad makes with the place where the ad is seen? Does the churches ad indirectly promote alcohol consumption and even alcoholism?

These questions are never easy to answer. My belief is that we need to go where the un-churched are. Traditional methods may not work well in a society where methods of communications are changing rapidly. Even in the past 15 years our ability to communicate has gone through massive upheavals. The very words that you are reading would have not been possible 15 years ago. I know some may quote the verse “Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, today and forever” but that has nothing to do with how we spread the Gospel. Some types of evangelism just don’t work because our culture has changed.  Door to door evangelism and street corner evangelism just don’t work anymore.  Suburban bedroom communities where there may not even be street corners to preach from.

Does advertising in a bar endorse drinking or alcoholism?  As with the other ads on the glass, there is nothing in the copy that endorses alcohol consumption. This establishment does serve food as well as alcoholic beverages.  In a broader sense does advertising in a newspaper endorse the views of the newspaper? Looking at it in that context, I would have to say NO.

I get the feeling that Jesus would be proud!

Published in: on 05/29/2010 at 9:39 pm  Leave a Comment  
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