WILKES-BARRE, Pa. — A Pennsylvania congregation seeking to attract new attendees has also generated controversy as it recently purchased billboard space that features the quote “I love sex,” attributed to God.
Restored Church, a non-denominational assembly in Wilkes-Barre purchased the billboard to advertise its upcoming sermon series on sex and the Song of Solomon.
“It’s in every single sitcom. It’s on the radio. I mean, you go on any major news media outlet and there’s stories about sexuality,” leader Dan Nichols told local television station WNEP. “If the culture can be so bold, I think the church can be so bold and speak directly on the subject and be up front about it.”
The billboard appears on Route 309, and some state that they were a bit surprised that the advertisement was posted by a church.
“[I was] thinking maybe it’s advertising the 309 Cinema, but it’s actually advertising a church,” said local resident Joyce Smetana. “I just thought it was a little off the wall.”
Vincent Boyle, pastor of Church on the Square, wrote to his local newspaper to express an objection to the billboard, opining that it is a wrongful and unbiblical means to attract new visitors to the congregation.
“I know that Pastor Dan is a man of God and he means well. But the Gospel is the power of God unto salvation for those that believe, and the love of God and His grace are for all who will receive it,” he wrote to the Times-Leader. “We don’t need shock and awe to market a loving God; we need to respond to a loving God.”
“Our holy God is not a commodity that is to be marketed like a new line of clothing, new car or a new business,” Boyle outlined. “[T]he world uses sex to sell everything. The church is supposed to be different from the world.”
He said that if churches wish to purchase billboard space they should not try to be provocative.
“Make it truth,” Boyle advised. “It’s the truth that sets mankind free.”
As previously reported, a megachurch in Alabama recently held an open house to celebrate its new $26 million dollar, six-dome entertainment center, which it states serves to attract those who normally do not attend church.
“We believe we can really meet the needs of the community,” leader Michael Moore, author of the book Rich is Not a Bad Word, told AL.com. “It will bridge people from the world to the Kingdom.”
According to reports, the facility, called “The Bridge” features—among other amenities—a 12-lane bowling alley, a basketball court, a fitness center, a banquet hall and cafe, a teen dance club, and an adult alcohol and smoke-free night club.
“People may not want to come to a church, but they’ll come to a bowling alley,” Moore explained. “People have needs other than spiritual needs. There’s a need for safe, clean, uplifting, family-oriented entertainment.”
But David Whitney, pastor of Cornerstone Evangelical Free Church in Pasadena, Maryland, told Christian News Network that using entertainment to draw the lost is an unbiblical means of evangelism. He said that the Church is not supposed to attempt to attract the world to come into its doors, but to go out into the world and preach the gospel—a message that is not very entertaining.
“That’s a mistake that’s been made for maybe a century now,” Whitney stated, noting that even Jesus and the Apostle Paul regularly took the gospel into the public square through preaching. “The gospel is an offense. The cross is called in Scripture an offense. It’s not a message that’s going to entertain people, or a message that will be pleasant for them to hear. It’s going to convict them of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment.”