Church versus strippers

Kevin D. Hendricks at Church Marketing Sucks talks about the strange case of the Christians from an Ohio church picketing a local strip club. The owner of the club returned the favor when the dancers picketed the congregation during Sunday services.

The Columbus Dispatch reports:

Every weekend for the last four years, Dunfee and members of his ministry have stood watch over George's joint, taking up residence in the right of way with signs, video cameras and bullhorns in hand. They videotape customers' license plates and post them online, and they try to save the souls of anyone who comes and goes.

Now, the dancers have turned the tables, so to speak. Fed up with the tactics of Dunfee and his flock, they say they have finally accepted his constant invitation to come to church.

It's just that they've come wearing see-through shorts and toting Super Soakers.

They bring lawn chairs and - yesterday, anyway - grilled hamburgers, Monster energy drinks and corn on the cob.

They sat in front of the church and waved at passing cars but largely ignored the congregation behind them.

Likewise, the churchgoers largely ignored the dancers. Except for Stan Braxton. He stopped and held hands with Lola, a 42-year-old dancer who made $200 on her Saturday night shift, and prayed for her salvation.

Lola, who wouldn't give her last name, said she was grateful for Braxton's prayers and his time.

Hendricks says there are things we can learn from this.

Getting people to church is a good thing, but I don’t think this is how you want to do it. Protesting, shaming and antagonizing people is never a good way to communicate the gospel. In this case it’s blowing up in their face as so many point and laugh.

Your strategy should be consistent with your message. If you believe in love, you should communicate with love. Maybe this church believes in judgment and, whether or not that’s the case, that’s exactly what’s being communicated.

The lone example of the one church member crossing the lines and talking to one of the women is encouraging. That’s where the story of the gospel is happening. In the Gospels you don’t find Jesus shouting at sinners with a bullhorn or shaming people into following him.

Other than looking to Jesus for an example of how this might have turned out differently, we remember to story of the Cowley fathers when they were still at St John the Evangelist in Boston on Bowdoin Street. They used to go to the brothel down the street for tea on Sundays. The women pooled their money to buy a statue of the Virgin and Christ child for the church in appreciation for the monks treating them as people and not as objects.

Comments (3)

This reminded me of something I just read in Blue Like Jazz by Donald Miller:

"Nobody will listen to you unless they sense that you like them.
"If a person sees that you do not like them, that you do not approve of their existence, then your religion and your political ideas will all seem wrong to them. If they sense that you like them, then they are open to what you have to say."

Reminds me of something H.D. Thoreau said, "If you see a man coming toward you with the intent of doing you good, you should run 100 miles in the opposite direction."

I'm glad I read this story. "Church Marketing Sucks," mentioned in the preface to the story, is a real undertaking, apparently about new approaches in evangelism.

I liked the quotes from Donald Miller and Thoreau, and the observation that people will be more open to you, if they sense that you like them, is valuable.

Finally, I used to worship at St. John's, Bowdoin Street (it was a whole lot friendlier than the Church of the Advent, down the hill), and I had not heard about the Cowley Fathers having tea with the ladies on Sundays. Great story!

Thanks and paz a tod@s!
Craig
http://cabernethy.typepad.com/blog/

Add your comments

(If you haven't left a comment here before, you may need to be approved by the site owner before your comment will appear. Until then, it won't appear on the entry. Thanks for waiting.)

Reminder: At Episcopal Café, we hope to establish an ethic of transparency by requiring all contributors and commentators to make submissions under their real names. For more details see our Feedback Policy.

Advertising Space