Getting Club Owner’s to Love Your Ministry: Three Stories
I started to question my sanity and God’s calling as I walked through the doors of a large strip club that April. When my voice failed as we approached the manager at the front bar, my friend took over. She explained we were from a church in town and wondered if we could bless his dancers this Easter with a small present.
He was unsure.
God moved and we were welcomed back, and into the dressing rooms, on Good Friday.
That was nearly four years ago. For the first few outreaches, we would arrive two days before to request permission to return with 40 gifts. But after showing up faithfully over time, the female manager gave us the thumbs up to come whenever we wanted. This is purely God’s gracious favor.
I believe one way we were granted this favor is by honoring the owner and management’s authority. We operate under the assumption that we are in their place of business. If at any point we are hindering their ability to run that business, we will likely not be welcomed back. However, if management sees us as women who love their employees and make the workplace that much brighter, we have the chance to continue coming.
Our team found out the owner of our club likes specialty nuts from a shop in town. You better believe that is a way we seek to serve and thank him when we are allowed into his establishment! Our club’s female night manager has a son the same age as mine. We make sure to bless her boy on nearly every visit. Loving someone’s children is loving them.
I had heard about a fiery redhead who had served overseas to women in brothels. She felt led to similar outreach in Wichita. She, along with several other interested women, took an entire evening with our team as we passed on what we had learned from our two years of outreach. They were humble, teachable and prayerful. The fiery new leader made contact with management, had a wonderful first visit connecting with the owner, and since Christmas of 2013, she and her team have had a wide open door to return any time. And this year, God opened a door to another new club for them!
The leader makes sure her team never outstays their welcome when they visit their two clubs. These clubs are both small, with even smaller dressing rooms, requiring relationships to be made out on the club floor. The intimacy level is different in this environment, and she prays for discernment to know how long to stay to ensure they bless and don’t hinder.
Her other best tip? Every time she leaves, she thanks them for their hospitality. She pointed out, “If you think about it, our friends in the clubs are experts in hospitality. It is their job to host these men and make them feel special. Just like Rahab in the Bible – she hosted the spies in her home and God blessed her for it. So I make sure to thank them for the way they host our team each time.”
According to culture, these two ladies should only be looking forward to empty nests and nicer vacation travels. However, they had allowed God to break their hearts for human trafficking victims and were serving in many different capacities in our city.
One way they blessed was to watch our team’s kiddos on outreach nights. We had a variety of help, but they – along with two friends – were the first to commit to watching every time. That kind of consistency blessed us, our kids, and our pre-outreach prayer time.
At one point one of them piped up, “We would be too old to do what you ladies are doing. Right?” We couldn’t have disagreed more. We prayed, they prayed. They attended the national Strip Church training along with two new friends. The team of four is now only a few months away from their two year anniversary of serving a different large club in our area.
The best part? Their relationship with the female owner and her daughter has blossomed. The daughter, Emily*, was finishing up her degree on a campus where the team leader had weekly meetings. The two would meet for coffee and chat. When Emily found out she was expecting, the whole team was invited to attend the baby shower and meet the family. The owner, Susan*, heard about this relationship with her daughter and the team leader. She watched the team honor her authority in their outreaches: the team let her and management set the rules of when to come, what gifts would bless, and if they could have access to the dressing rooms. The last one was a definite no for their first several visits. However, a few months in, Susan invited the team onto her “turf” and told her story. The ladies connected and shared. After that? Wide open door for the team to decorate the dressing rooms.
When Emily’s baby was born, the team leader was invited to the hospital. Proud Grandma Susan was gracious in allowing the leader to hold her granddaughter before she got to that second day! In a situation that has real potential to be full of jealousy, we praise God that instead, with prayer and honoring authority, it is unfolding into a growing relationship of trust and respect.
We rejoice in the way God has orchestrated the three distinct teams in our city. We relish in the ability to invest deeply in each of our clubs and in supporting each other through prayer and encouragement. We never take the favor we have with owners or management for granted. We know God has given us the grace to bring His Word and Light into the lives of these ladies – including those whose job it is to manage them. We regularly ask for His favor to continue and for Him to show us ways to honor and love those in charge.
This month’s blog was written by Strip Church Network partner Jamie Proffer of Hope’s Gate Ministry in Wichita, KS