Kentucky Baptists Use Firearms to Win Men to Jesus

jesus gun

The United States is the most heavily armed country in the world. Not only  do we have more military firearms, bombs, planes, ships, tanks, and helicopters than any other country in the world, American citizens own more than 300 million guns. According to those who support a citizen’s right to own a firearm, the Second Amendment of the US Bill of Rights, guarantees the right of every citizen, not convicted of a felony or mentally incompetent, to own a firearm.

In Kentucky, the Kentucky Southern Baptist Convention is using firearm give-a-ways to attract “manly” men to church. Andrew Wolfson, writing for The Courier-Journal, had this to say about the firearm give-a-way:

In an effort its spokesman has described as “outreach to rednecks,” the Kentucky Baptist Convention is leading “Second Amendment Celebrations,” where churches around the state give away guns as door prizes to lure in nonbelievers in hopes of converting them to Christ.

As many as 1,000 people are expected at the next one, on Thursday at Lone Oak Baptist Church in Paducah, where they will be given a free steak dinner and the chance to win one of 25 handguns, long guns and shotguns.

The goal is to “point people to Christ,” the church says in a flier. Chuck McAlister, an ex-pastor, master storyteller and former Outdoor Channel hunting show host who presides at the events as the Kentucky Baptist Convention’s team leader for evangelism, said 1,678 men made “professions of faith” at about 50 such events last year, most of them in Kentucky.

In Louisville, he said, more than 500 people showed up on a snowy January day for a gun giveaway at Highview Baptist Church, and 61 made decisions to seek salvation.

McAlister’s boss, Paul Chitwood, the Kentucky Baptist Convention’s executive director, said such results speak for themselves. “It’s been very effective,” he said in an interview…

…In an article titled “God, guns and good ol’ boys,” Roger Alford, the Kentucky Baptist Convention’s communication director, described McAlister’s work as “outreach to rednecks.”

McAlister, an avid hunter who owns more than 30 firearms, describes it as “affinity evangelism,” in which preachers reach out to potential converts based on their common interest in a sport or hobby.

“The day of hanging a banner in front of your church and saying you’re having a revival and expecting the community to show up is over,” said McAlister, who hosted the religious-themed “Adventure Bound Outdoors” on the Outdoor Channel for 16 years.

“You have to know the hook that will attract people, and hunting is huge in Kentucky,” he said. “So we get in there and burp and scratch and talk about the right to bear arms and that stuff.”

He said he can understand that some people have a problem with giving away guns at churches, “given the misuse of guns and our moral decline.” But, he said, “we certainly don’t advocate violence. We are advocating guns for hunting and protection only.”

Chitwood, a bow hunter who occasionally hunts with a gun, said, “I don’t think hunting is inconsistent with the Gospel in any way. A lot of guys in Kentucky hunt.”

He also minimized the potential that one of the guns could be used for harm. “You could buy a car and run somebody over with it,” he said.

Asked what Jesus would think of the gun giveaways, McAlister said, “I don’t know, but he was pretty handy with the whip when he ran the money-changers out of the temple.”…

…The events seem like political rallies/prayer meetings, according to a video on YouTube of a men’s wildlife supper on Feb. 4, 2013, at Silverdale Baptist Church in Chattanooga, Tenn.

Wearing a camouflage shirt and frayed cap, McAlister ambled onto the stage, where he was surrounded by stuffed game and firearms.

“How many of y’all own guns?” he asked in his South Carolina accent. “Lemme see a show of hands.”

“That is awesome,” he said, as the hands went up. “We’ve got an army right here!”

McAlister sought to win the souls of the unchurched by appealing to their love of hunting and enmity toward gun control. For 30 minutes, he mentioned nothing about God or Jesus.

Instead, he leaned on his rifle and talked about his love for the outdoors, about patriotism and about his “Daddy” and “Granddaddy,” who he said took him hunting as a child and taught him to “work hard, to be honest and to look a man in the eye when shaking his hand.”

He derided gun control. “It’s not the gun, it’s the man behind the gun,” he said, “and criminals don’t care about a bunch of rules.”

He told hunting stories and jokes — including about how he had to refer to “harvesting” deer on the Outdoor Channel to be “politically correct” but now can say: “We don’t ‘harvest deer.’ We kill the suckers!”

He spoke without notes, prowling the stage in a headset, taking the crowd back to the soybean fields where he hunted with his kin and learned important life lessons.

“I remember walking across a field one day when Granddaddy asked me why two bucks don’t go off to rut and two roosters don’t form a covey. He said, ‘Do you know why that is? It’s because animals have more sense than some people.’ ”

The crowd erupted in laughter, and he moved in to close the deal.

“There is only one path to know the God who made the great outdoors, and that is through his son, Jesus Christ,” he bellowed. “My friends, you listen to me and you listen carefully,” he said, lowering his voice and turning serious.

“I am here to tell you there is nothing more, nothing else and nothing better. Jesus is the only cure. Jesus is the only hope. That may not be politically correct, but I don’t give a rip about political correctness,” he said. “Because it’s true.”His hunt for souls produced a huge bounty — 103 men reportedly made “salvation decisions” accepting Christ as their savior…

…In Kentucky, crowds at gun giveaways have dwarfed regular Sunday church attendance, according to McAlister and local pastors.

For example, at Buck Creek Baptist Church in Calhoun, where Sunday attendance averages about 350, more than 600 people showed up Feb. 1, and 86 accepted Jesus, said the Rev. Tom Webb, its pastor.

McAlister said more than 800 people turned out last September for a gun giveaway at Christian County’s Crofton Baptist Church, which has only 75 members, and 101 said they had found Christ. Several rifles and shotguns were given away, Roger Alford, the convention’s communications director, said in a story he wrote about the event.

McAlister said the giveaways have wide appeal. “We get meat hunters who hunt just to put food on the table” along with “executives who think nothing of paying $10,000 to hunt bear in Alaska,” he said. “Guys all want to receive something for free.”…

Back in the 1970′s, when many Baptist churches had a bus ministry, children were bribed with candy and give-a-ways in the hope that they would ride the bus on Sunday.  The stated goal was “winning souls.” The unstated goal was jacking up the attendance numbers.

size matters

Last year, in a post titled How the IFB Church Measures Success, I wrote:

You see size matters. Men are constantly told that the size of their penis matters. Male porn stars are revered for having gigantic penises. There is little market for small-penis men. Now, we know that most men do not have a twelve-inch penis. The average penis size is somewhere in the vicinity of 5-6 inches in its erect state.  Men may dream of being John Holmes, but as they put their pants on in the morning they are quickly reminded of reality.

This desire for a large penis is what drives the IFB church movement.  Bigger is always better.  Every small church pastor desires to pastor a big church. Big church pastors frequent the conference circuit and college chapels, regaling small church pastors and college students about how they were able to increase their penis, err I mean church, size.

Small church pastors come away from these conferences erect with the desire to build a big church for Jesus.  They tell themselves if they just do what big church pastor so and so did, that they too can have a large church. Yet, every morning, as they put their pants on, they realize nothing has changed.  In the IFB world, these kinds of pastors are failures.

Everything in the IFB church movement is measured by numbers. Numbers like:

  • Souls saved
  • Baptisms
  • Members added to the church
  • Attendance
  • Offerings
  • Men entering the ministry under their tutelage
  • Students at the approved Bible college (s)

When pastors get together to talk shop one of the first questions asked is, how many are you running these days?  Some more “spiritual” IFB pastors take the John Wesley approach and say, I look upon all the world as my parish, but most IFB pastors know the real standard of success is church attendance size.

Pastors with large church attendances are revered and pastors with small church attendances are often envious. This is quite like 9th grade gym class where everyone is showering at the end of class. There are the boys who are revered and then there are the boys who turn their backs away from everyone else out of shame and envy. Every man who has ever taken a communal shower after gym class knows what I am talking about.

If you read The Courier-Journal article carefully, you noticed the same methodology is being used by Kentucky Southern Baptists. The stated goal is winning “manly” men, men who can skin a squirrel in under 2 minutes, to Jesus. It is always about winning souls, right?

The unstated goal is clear…boosting church attendance. The Southern Baptist Convention has a huge problem on their hands. Not only are their congregations aging, on any given Sunday over 60% of Southern Baptist church members are AWOL. According to the 2012 Annual Southern Baptist Church Profile conducted by LifeWay Christian Resources, the Southern Baptist Convention has 15.9 million members. The primary church attendance number is 5.97 million people. This means, on any given Sunday, 10 million Southern Baptist church members are too busy doing something else to be bothered with making an appearance at the local First Baptist Church.

And don’t forget what the REAL issue is. More people=more money. Less people=less money. It sounds like Kentucky Baptists are willing to do whatever it takes to increase attendance and offering, win souls for Jesus.

After all, didn’t Paul say that Christians should become all things to all men? I can easily imagine a Convention planning meeting where someone floats a new idea for reaching “manly” men, an idea far better than firearm give-a-ways. All  Southern Baptist churches needs to do is install a brass pole on the church platform and have some strippers for Jesus come and perform. I guarantee you that almost every man in town will want to go to church. Imagine how many dollars bills with be in the offering plate.  This new idea can even be given the cover of Scripture. After all, David danced naked before the Lord…surely a naked woman can dance before the Lord (and a church full of men) too? Imagine how many souls could be won for Jesus with such an exciting, new ministry!

Comments (13)

  1. Ahab

    I see this strategy failing. New church attendees will just show up for the steak and the hopes of winning guns, but how many will actually stick around after the gimmick ends? If churches can’t provide community, relevant spiritual insight, and meaning to their congregants, no amount of T-bones or guns will boost church attendance in the long-term.

  2. ami

    It sounds a great deal like a program in place in some of our local high schools where the kids are offered a monetary incentive for not missing school.

    Many of them have gotten the money, but how many of them have actually learned anything while being incarcerated in our public school system?

    You can lead a redneck to jaysus but you can’t make him think.

  3. Paula

    This is disgusting to me, but then so is the fact that you can’t get elected to anything in AR without being photographed in cammo and carrying a gun, pretending to hunt.

  4. Mike

    I’m a gun enthusiast. Something like this might get my heathen ass back to church! LOL! Just kidding! In all seriousness, though, I agree with you, Bruce. This is just one more sign showing that the evangelical church in America is losing members and not growing. Everyone talks about the the absence of the young in churches today. Well, this is true, but what’s talked about much less is the absence of men in evangelical churches. Yes, that’s right. Churches today, especially evangelical churches, tend to be made up of predominantly women despite the reality that women are not able to have leadership positions. There are a lot of reasons why not as many men go to church anymore….too many to talk about here. This is a pretty stupid stunt by the SBC, but it’s not surprising. They are pretty infamous for doing anything, no matter how gimmicky it may be, to “preach the gospel” and “save souls.” Of course, Bruce, as you rightly indicated, in the end, it’s all about the money.

  5. Nick Gauthier

    I shared this post with a friend who is an atheist from Kentucky. I’m sure he’ll get a big kick out of it!

  6. Rike

    So if you’re a christian you cannot sell a cake or a flower arrangement to a couple of gay guys, but you can give away free guns to any number of “manly men”. Must be some kind of moral there somewhere?

    1. gimpi

      I was thinking the same thing, Rike. Great minds…:-)

  7. Texas Born & Bred

    Finally the Baptists are thinking outside the box. Attendance close to one thousand!!

    I’ve often said it would be cheaper to hand out door prizes (or maybe $20 bills like a church in Atlanta?) for church attendance to get your church attendance numbers up. There could also be special door prizes for those being baptized.

  8. Brittany-Ann


    Well. That’s embarrassing.

  9. davewarnock

    A large Baptist church in my area has an annual “Truck Day”. They park large trucks and tractors all over the church grounds and men and boys come and stare at them and fondle them and ooh and ahh at them; and then go in and listen to a sermon. And eat some meat. Not kidding.

  10. Appalachian Agnostic

    Last week I overheard a group of men, a pastor among them, bragging about the various creatures they had shot, planned to shoot or would shoot if given the chance. In general I like this group of guys, but in this particular conversation they sounded like a bunch of assholes.

  11. Ian

    This is a shame. Even as a Christian, I would have disapproved of this behavior.

    As much as I like guns, I would never be tempted by something as shallow as that. I suspect the manly men who went to church were men who had gone before at some time in their lives. The siren call of religion is a strong one. Add to that the chance of a free pistol and you have an almost irresistible call.

  12. Matt Martin

    But surely the Good News (it being the truth and all) of the Redeemer of mankind doesn’t need embellishment? Isn’t the Holy Word good enough on It’s own that bribes of any sort shouldn’t be required to open the eyes and win the hearts of the unchurched?


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