You might be wondering, “How could strip club and ministry be used in the same sentence?” Well, you might be surprised to hear that there are several ministries and hundreds of people stepping into strip clubs, brothels, massage parlors, and porn conventions around the world showing Christ’s love to those inside. XXXchurch and Strip Church are just two examples of ministries that are reaching out to this part of society.
So maybe you’re questioning if it’s the church’s responsibility to reach out to these kind of people, or maybe you don’t feel like it would make much of a difference if your church did. Perhaps you believe they’ve chosen this lifestyle and there are plenty of other jobs they could hold to make a living, but they choose to work selling their bodies because it’s easier than getting a real job. We would be lying if we said none of us has ever passed this judgment on them. But the important question is: Would your opinion change if your church was asked to help a lost girl after receiving this email?
Hi my name is Sara.* Everyone I know is in the adult industry. I’m a dancer and started dancing the day I turned 18 and I’m about to turn 22. I dance 6 to 7 nights a week. I’ve done a lot of damage to myself since I’ve been dancing. I’ve done drugs, I’ve done pills, I’ve sold my soul many many times. I don’t feel like a person. I’m almost probably completely numb because of all the damage I’ve done to myself mentally and emotionally by putting myself through all of this. I don’t know how to stop or how to get out. I feel like I’m very lucky to still be alive, and I’ve actually had people tell me that many times. I want to get out of this life, but I don’t know how, and the money is very addicting. Dancing is the only job I’ve ever had. I don’t know what it’s like to have a “normal” job. Dancing is my life. I hate it now though because it ruins me completely, but I’m stuck in it. I don’t know anyone outside of this business and I’m close to all the girls and can’t imagine leaving them. I can’t see myself not dancing because if I stop I’ll have ABSOLUTELY NOTHING LEFT. This is all I do and all I know. I hope there is someway I can get help. I don’t really know who this email is going to but I hope I can get help. I have lost all emotions. I’m mostly numb and since I work 6 to 7 nights a week, I drink straight vodka at work all night every night, which is terrible for my body. I don’t know how I do it. I just want someone to help me.So please get in touch with me if you can help. Thanks.
The first person Sara thought to reach out to was a Christian man she remembered from the ministry, “Hard As Nails,” who once spoke at her high school. She remembered his name, Googled him and sent him an email. He forwarded her e-mail to one of our very own Strip Church ministries in her area, who is part of a local church. You see, the local church needs to open its eyes to the raw reality that different forms of brokenness are all around us. It’s time we equip ourselves to meet every “kind” of need in our cities, including loving the unlovely. It’s time that we change the mentality of reactively responding to the needs that fall on our church’s doorsteps, and need to proactively search the need in our communities and meet those needs. Sara had the courage to reach out, but how many women like her…don’t?
Strip Church is an organization that teaches, serves and equips women who have a heart and calling to reach out to women working in strip clubs, sharing the message of Jesus’ love and grace. We provide trainings each year, developing leaders to start a strip club ministry in their cities. From these trainings, we have created a network of 60+ ministries all over the world who are making an impact in the lives of these women. Our goal is not to try to convince anyone to quit their jobs, but instead encourage women in their value, purpose and relationship with God. We want them to know they are loved and valued.
Provocative words in ministry titles include, “XXX” and “Strip” which intentionally mingle the sacred with the seedy and yes, it’s thought-provoking; maybe even scandalous.
Many Christians have tried bland or tame approaches by talking about ‘purity’ or holiness, but far too often, the true nature of what these ministries are dealing with gets lost in those discussions. The church at large needs to be challenged about the reality of our world – what real people are dealing with every day.
We can’t back down from these topics or shy away from them. We should be compelled to start the conversations, which names and marketing like “Strip Church” and “XXXchurch” do.
We believe there is a great need for the local church to get involved in reaching women in the sex industry in their cities. We are all called to evangelism with the gifts and experience that God has given us. Jesus, himself, connected with women who were “in the industry” in his day (John 7:53-8:11). He showed scandalous love to those who were considered the most unlovable in his day and age. As followers of Christ, the least we can do is to show true love to these women in a tangible way.
If you or a woman in your church is passionate about this ministry, we would love to equip you to reach out to these girls at one of our upcoming Strip Church Trainings. You don’t have to be a leader in your church, a former stripper yourself, or feel like you posses any special skills. The requirement? A true sense that God loves these women and you can be a part of that relationship journey. Our next training will be held in Miami October 11-13th. Visit http://brightlightsbigcities.com/training.htmlfor dates and more information.
*Sara’s real name has been changed to protect her identity.