Here is a post-trip update from Project: Easter! Check out the video below to hear about our night.
Don’t forget to read Part 1 of this post –> Why porn is more popular than church: Part 1
To answer the question from Part 1, what are we (the church) so occupied with? What is consuming us?
In my opinion, we are too busy building our “ministry” rather than relationships. While Jesus’ ministry was relationships, our ministry is programs and theatrical productions, rock shows, and creating an entertaining experience. In other words, as church makes its demands of people through money, time and resources, porn makes itself fully available to be used without asking for anything in return. It appears to have ‘no strings attached.’ We hope the people we see at work, at home, or even on Sunday are doing ok, but do we really know what goes on in their lives? If the little interaction we have is full of to do lists and chores, how can we expect to know how people are really doing? Don’t be like Cain and write it off as “I am not my brother’s keeper.” You are your brother’s keeper, and your sister’s keeper too. We are responsible for one another.
Church could be more popular than porn. But only if there were more Jesus in it. If people really cared. If church wasn’t just a building, if it wasn’t a club of members, but it was your friends, your family. What if church was truly a community? What if you and I were available when people needed us? What if they were there for us too? We could listen to each other rant without passing judgement, let our hair down and not be afraid of what others may think. What if church wasn’t a chore, but rather a pleasure? What if you could love and be loved without all the conditions? We don’t need a reminder of how bad we are. We just need to see how good God is, and how He makes life enjoyable. We need to learn what it means to have fun and to be fun around. We need to let our big religious walls down and let people in. We need to let God in, too. He’s totally for us. He’s not against us.
People seek in porn what they lack in life: love, acceptance, intimacy and pleasure. What if church was actually better than porn? What if the love, acceptance, intimacy and pleasure derived from our authentic relationships superseded the highest porn high? What would be the result?
Instead of porn killing the church, THE CHURCH WOULD KILL PORN.
I know what you’re thinking, how dare I suggest such a thing. I assure you, what is written below will ruffle your feathers. At least I hope so.
Let’s set the scene. It’s Sunday morning which could mean one of two things: 1) either you’re snuggled up to the cold side of your pillow while basking in your weekly ritual of sleeping in, or 2) it’s a mad dash to get ready, eat a slice of toast, get in the car and speed away to church before anyone notices your tardiness.
Why is porn more popular than church? Well, there are a lot of reasons, less to do with porn and more to do with church, in my opinion. Let’s face it. At some point we have all been less than satisfied with church, maybe even disappointed. Church hasn’t always measured up and been all we hoped it would be. It has been a ritual for centuries, but not exactly a passion for everyone. I’m not saying that church can’t be exciting or relevant. It just doesn’t always live up to the expectation and the hype that surrounds it. For the record, I grew up in church, going week after week my whole life. It has definitely played a huge role in who I am today. However, I do not see many of the people I grew up with really caring for church much these days.
Why is that?
You know that time your mom made a little too much spaghetti, and it seemed like the leftovers would never end? It’s like the quail and manna God brought down from heaven; and just like the Israelites, it doesn’t feel much like a miracle after a few days. You can’t stand the smell of that same old spaghetti. You’ve lost the desire to eat it. You’re just over it. People are just over church. And honestly, I’m over church too. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not a church hater, and what God did for the Israelites in the desert was indeed a miracle. Every single time He rained poultry and bread it was definitely an experience to be had. I’m just not sure that the leftovers we are dishing out of the church is what God had in mind when He wanted to feed His people. He has never been bound by rituals, or programs, or by the four walls of a church. We preach this all the time, but…do we really mean it? I’m not saying the answer is some new revelation that no one has ever heard of (even God Himself), I’m simply saying that God is bigger. He’s bigger than our church building and all of our organized activities. He’s bigger than our awesome youth band or twelve-step program. He’s bigger than our thinking, and the little box we tend to put Him in to suit us. Our our own little pseudo-Jesus idol.
“So what does an outside of the box Jesus look like?” you may ask. From what we read in Scripture, we know He spent time alone with His Creator, and He spent time with people, showing them who God was through His own life. He invited people to go on a journey with Him, to get to know Him, and experience His Father on an intimate level. Jesus answered the need for passion, not theological debate. He came and stirred up things a bit, because He didn’t come pre-packaged the way the church had hoped. Those who were looking for Him found Him, those who weren’t, did not. People want authenticity, something genuine. Better yet, someone genuine. Jesus didn’t have to advertise His authenticity with a postcard slogan that reads, ‘real church for real people.’ What exactly does that mean anyways? He was authentic because, He was authentic…if that makes sense. Part of the issue we have with church is how we treat it. Church has become an imitation, a substitute for God. We aren’t seeking out the real person Himself, therefore, we are unsatisfied. We bring people to church, but Jesus brought church to people. We need more Jesus. Stop trying to be a hipster Christian. Let’s just be our frumpy, less than perfect selves, and let God be Himself instead of someone’s ‘homeboy’.
So…having made our way here in a rather circuitous manner, what does all of this church talk have to do with porn? Good question…and, please excuse me for this less than subtle transition from church to porn.
Did you know that one out of every four searches on the internet is for porn? One out of every four searches…think about that for a minute. That’s a pretty big number. And, the most popular day of the week for viewing porn is…drum roll please…Sunday! Coincidence? I think not. Although, I don’t think that’s what God had in mind when He created the seventh day of rest! But the stats have spoken, porn has won, and church has struck out. What makes porn so attractive? What is so amazing about porn that justifies it’s 68 million internet searches per day, even more so on our glorious Sunday?
Porn has no expectations of me, and it makes no demands. It’s visually engaging, endorphin releasing, gets me higher than high, and is a full on orgasmic experience. Porn produces all the feel goods a person could ask for. It’s quick, easy, and you don’t have to pay a dime for it. If we are honest, what’s not to love about that? Porn is available anytime, anywhere. It’s just a click away. It requires very little effort to get it. Its supply is virtually endless, literally. If I have a particular craving, the internet will seek it out for me, whether it be a busty brunette or a bombshell blondie, I will get what I want when I want it. And best of all, no one has to know. What some don’t realize are the adverse affects that porn has on your body, your soul, and your spirit. A recent Relevant Magazine article entitled, ‘This is your brain on porn‘ reveals that “Every time a person views porn, or eventually even thinks about porn, the burst of dopamine strengthens the connections between cells (in your brain). The stronger the connection, the easier it becomes for cells to communicate on that path…Porn becomes the path of least resistance in the brain. And the easier the path, the more likely we are to take it, even when we don’t want to.” Porn addiction is inevitable for viewers. Viewing porn releases more endorphins than a hit of crack cocaine. It is even being recognized as a leading cause of erectile dysfunction in not your dad or grandpa (apologies for the visual) but actually young men, in their 20′s and 30′s. Men aren’t the only ones partaking of pornography, either. Now there is visual and readable porn ready for any desperate housewife. Porn has a captive audience because it presents itself as a pleasurable experience without all the red tape. It seems less messy than real life, and especially less messy than church. Porn presents an alternative reality to the one we face. This “californication” takes us on a thrilling journey that seems to find gold at the end of the rainbow.
Be careful my friends. All is not what it’s cracked up to be. What started off as a leisurely escape, turns into an all consuming need that leaves you anxious about when you will get your next hit. That voice in your head won’t turn off anymore. Instead of you controlling it, it begins to control you. Just like church was not all it promised, neither will porn be in the end. Best frankly stated by Craig Gross, the founder of XXXchurch, “Porn kills.” It kills brain cells, it kills innocence, it kills hopes, dreams, and marriages. It kills intimacy and healthy relationships with people and with God. Porn is killing the church. It’s killing you and me. The problem here is not that porn is available in copious amounts. It’s that the church (we) remain occupied.
So…what are we so occupied with?
For the answer, go to “Why porn is more popular than church: Part 2“
Lavish would like to invite you to partner with us in the upcoming Project Easter! Just before Easter the Lavish team will take 100 gift bags to the girls working in our adopted strip clubs.
All gifts and donations can be mailed to P.O. Box 700554, San Antonio, TX 78270 or contact us for a drop off location if you are in the San Antonio area. Item donations will be accepted through March 26th.
You can also join us on Thursday, March 28th to pray, write love notes to the girls and package our gifts. We will be providing FREE pizza for all of our volunteers! Feel free to come by anytime between 6-8pm. Please contact us at (210) 560-3490 or via our contact page for location details.
Here is a post-trip update from Project: Valentine’s Day! We are so excited to say we have begun to expand our reach to more strip clubs in the San Antonio area. Check out the video below to hear about our night out.
Thank you so much to everyone who came out to help with our Valentine’s Day gift assembly! Your efforts were amazing and I can’t tell you how grateful I am for everything all of you do.
Please be praying for us as we deliver these gifts, and stay tuned for a post-delivery update to come soon!
Yesterday Erin, a Lavish volunteer, and myself had the pleasure of visiting the girls at our adopted strip club. We were greeted with smiles as we walked in and a waitress hollered out, “The sweet girls are back, with the flowers! You all are awesome!” As we walked into the dressing room, I noticed a few girls I had not seen before. I went to introduce myself to one of the waitresses and explain who we are/what we offer when she interrupted me and said, “Oh wait…you all are those girls?! Awwww!” Then she hugged me. She said, “You did all of this for us?” as she pointed to our collage hanging on the wall. “Yes,” I said, “we want you to know someone really cares about you.” She began to tell me how thankful she was for us doing what we did. She had already encountered God’s love even though we had not officially met. As Erin came over, the waitress began to tear up, and say, “I’ve been in the business a really long time and I’ve never seen anyone do something like this for us.” She continued, “The girls here have to be tough. They probably won’t tell you anything, but it means so much to all of us. You just don’t know, but it means a lot.” Trying to hold back her tears, she paused and just shook her head. ”Everytime I come into work, I come into hell. To see something actually positive is so nice. I don’t like what I do. If I could just walk away, I would in an instant. No one actually enjoys working in a gentleman’s club – we are selling fantasy. I have two kids I have to support and working at a restaurant isn’t going to cut it.”
We stood there a while, nodding and just listening as she poured her heart out. “When I was younger, if there had been girls like you…” She paused again but this time she had no words. Somehow I knew what she couldn’t bring herself to say. If there had been someone when she started out in this industry, who cared about her instead of judging her, we may not have met today. Her life could have been different.
A lot of our conversation was filled with longing. She longed to be a part of a church without having to buy a Sunday dress. She wanted desperately to find a way to hear God’s Word in peace, without judgement, without the voices in her head telling her she wasn’t welcome. She longed for acceptance but was afraid to trust because of her past encounters with other “Christians.” She firmly told us, “I feel judged no matter where I go, no matter how I am dressed. This…what I do here is just a job. Like a plumber who fixes toilets, it’s what I do, but it’s not who I am.” We tried telling her about our church and how they wouldn’t judge her but she told us outright,
“I don’t believe you.”
I wanted so badly to take all of her pain away. I wanted her to know it could be different.
Some may think we are pursuing a lost cause or trying to win a battle that’s already been lost, but I disagree. By God’s grace we can be a bridge to those who thought there was no way back. We carry hope to those who have none.
Towards the end of our conversation, we prayed with her and she prayed for us. She thanked God for us and the love we had shown her and the other girls. She told us we had made a difference in her life. This beautiful woman wanted to donate to our cause because she believed in what we were doing. That completely humbled me. The depth of God’s love does not only reach the people He’s called us to, but it empowers those same people to rise up and make a difference in their own sphere of influence. Our impact can never be completely measured, but it’s days like these that bring a realization of a greater work at hand. What God is orchestrating is much bigger than ourselves. When you start to get His heart for His people, it arouses a greater passion for that pursuit. His longing is for all of us.
2 Corinthians 5:19 – “For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them. And He gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation.”
I am so thrilled to be going to Dallas for many reasons. For one thing, it’s great to get out of town and get some perspective. But this is more than just a couple girls getting out of town – there is purpose for this 5 hour road trip we are soon to embark on. At the beginning of February we are going to Dallas to be trained by some of the very best in sex industry ministry: Strip Church. We are going to join others from around the nation whose hearts burn for the same passions and purposes as ours: to make God’s love known to women working in strip clubs. It is so encouraging to know we are not doing this alone. We are making connections with other like-minded people for a greater purpose; and we welcome the opportunity to grow personally and ministerially. There are going to be many speakers, including, Craig Gross with XXXchurch and Annie Lobert with Hookers for Jesus just to name a couple. It’s pretty exciting, especially when you are a nerd like me. I have been following these people for years, and the mere thought of being in the same building puts butterflies in my stomach! Now I will have the pleasure of sitting under the sound of their voices – not from a screen but actually in person! EEEK! I could scream like the 14 year old girl I once was when I saw N*SYNC live for the first (and only) time in my life. Might I add that my poor brother-in-law got the privilege of taking me to that concert…sorry for putting you through that bro. Anyways, back to what I was saying, I’m really, really excited. For those of you who do not know, Strip Church serves, teaches, and equips women across the world who share a heart and calling to reach those in the sex industry. After attending this training we will have the opportunity to become a part of the Strip Church Network which will provide us with monthly training conference calls, resources, networked websites, blogs, prayer, and materials to use inside the clubs. This is an incredible opportunity for us to become even more effective in our mission field and help us learn how to expand our reach. If you want to partner with us by making a financial contribution to our training please go to our fundraising page by clicking here. All contributions will go to training and lodging and can be received till January 20th. We are so grateful to have such wonderful people behind us. Thank you for your continued support and prayers!
A big hug and a huge THANK YOU to all who supported Lavish: Project Christmas! To those of you who gave of your resources, your time, your prayers, and your writing – YOU are what makes this extension of God’s love possible. We are so encouraged by your compassion and lavish giving! Through this project we will be able to reach 140 girls in our adopted strip club. By partnering with us, you are making an impact that cannot be measured, and for that, we are forever grateful. Please check back with us for an update on our trip to the club to deliver these gifts!