“Things We Have Learned in the Ministry…. In the First Few Years” Blog #1- FEAR
The JC’s Girls Ministry in San Diego was a huge work in progress, especially in the early years.
One of the biggest mistakes we made when our ministry first began in 2006, was trying to “sneak into the strip clubs as “regular patrons” with our hot pink Bibles and gift bags.
We would ask girls for private lap dances and when they took us into the back for a “dance”, we would let them know that we really did not want a dance but that we had a gift for them instead. We would pay the money required for the private dance, and ask her if she would like prayer for anything or share with her whatever the Lord put on our hearts. After using this approach for almost 2 years, one of the GM’s in a club we frequent, pulled me aside and called me out on our approach. He asked me point blank, “Why do you use a Bait-and-Switch approach with the girls? Isn’t that a little deceptive?”
I felt so embarrassed at the deceptive ways we were attempting to reach out to girls- not only in this club, but all of the clubs! I apologized because he was absolutely right! It was wrong! He suggested that we just sit where the patrons sit and pass our gifts out to the girls out in the open. He said that he would let us into the clubs for free and it wasn’t a problem.
Wow!!! What a concept!
I suppose that we were always afraid if the club management found out that we were there, we would get in trouble or get kicked out of the club. Our Pastor Miles McPherson always says that FEAR stand for “False Evidence Appearing Real”, and that couldn’t be more true, especially in this case.
I called Heather Veitch, who founded the first JC’s Girls ministry in 2005, and told her what had happened. She shared with me that their group (which was located in Las Vegas at the time) had recently began a different approach. They called the clubs in advance and asked permission from the management/owners to allow them to come in and bring the gifts for the girls. I was speechless!! “This is crazy”, I thought! I asked her all of the questions that went racing through my head. “What do you say to the managers or owners of the strip clubs when you call? Do you tell them that you are Christians? What if they say that we are not allowed to come to their club, and they shut the doors on us forever? Then what??”
Although Heather did answer all of my questions, what I remember most about that conversation, is the one question that she asked me back… “Do You Trust God With This Ministry?” My answer was, “Yes!”
I remember being so nervous the first time I called a club to ask for permission to come in. I prayed that God would give us favor and open the doors needed to get into the club. I called my first club and asked to speak to the GM (General Manager). When the GM got on the phone, I told him my name and explained to him that I was with a group called, ‘The JC’s Girls”, and told him that we go to a church called “The Rock” and we go into all the strip clubs in San Diego and bring gifts to the girls and let them know that God Loves them. I asked him if it would be okay if we came into his club and gave him an early evening time and date. I’ll never forget his response. He said, “Oh my gosh!! I use to go to The Rock! I am a Christian too…. I have just fell away from the Lord. YES!!! Of course you girls can come here!!” Not only did God open the doors for us to come into that club, but he also opened the doors for us to invite him back to church… and he came! I realized that being up front and honest was way more rewarding and felt so much better than being “sneaky”.
In the last few years, we have even done things a little more different. We now ask to bring the gifts for the girls into the their dressing room. We have noticed that is the best place to be! When the girls are on the floor, they are usually in “work-mode” and we interrupt that when we are there. When we go into the dressing rooms, it’s typically a much more relaxed environment where we can have better conversations, try to get to know the girls better, and even pray for girls when they have prayer requests.
Through much trial and error, we have finally learned what works best for us- which is to be upright and honest about our mission and purpose. We have realized that no matter how odd it may seem for strip club owners or management to welcome us into their clubs, when God prepares the way… the Doors will be Open!