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.
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
- Members added to the church
- 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!