MONROE, Ohio — An Ohio minister recently rode a live bull during a Wednesday night service in an effort to win converts for Christianity—a tactic that raised the eyebrows of some that questioned such methods of evangelism.
Lawrence Bishop II, 48, co-pastor of Solid Rock Church in Monroe, announced last month in a video that he was going to ride the bull in response to the number of drug-related deaths in America, as well as the bullying that takes place among the youth.
“What God has laid on our heart to do is to buck two wild rodeo bucking bulls inside the church sanctuary…,” he stated. “It’s a tool to get people to come in to hear the gospel of Jesus Christ, and to stop the ‘bull’ in their lives of suicide [and] of drugs, and satan—the ultimate bully—being exposed in their lives and then giving their hearts to Jesus.”
“We’re believing for hundreds and hundreds of salvations this night,” Bishop continued. “So find that person who says these words, ‘I will never set my foot inside a church,’ and then tell them … our pastor and world champion PBR rider … is going to ride two bucking bulls inside the church sanctuary.”
Prior to opening Solid Rock, the Bishop family owned a horse ranch and became known for breeding American quarter horses. In 2011, Bishop took over as co-pastor following the death of his father Lawrence I. His mother Darlene serves as senior pastor of Solid Rock and travels the country to preach. She lives in the lavish ranch house that she and her late husband built.
This month, Bishop told ABC’s “Nightline” that he believes he is following Christ’s command to evangelize in seeking to attract the lost by methods such as riding a bull in the sanctuary. He rode a horse during a service on a previous occasion.
“You know, the Bible said to compel them to come in, and so that’s what we’re doing,” he said. “It didn’t say how to compel them. It just said compel them to come in, so … this is a tool.”
“The Bible says to be, ‘Wise as a serpent and harmless as a dove,'” Bishop continued. “It also said, ‘He that winneth souls is wise.’ So these bulls are going to attract people that otherwise would never set foot in a church house.”
His mother, Darlene, agreed.
“We call our church an extreme church because we don’t do anything just normal. My husband used to say the seven last words of a dying church is ‘never seen it done this way before,’ and so that’s what we’re known for is doing things to the extreme,” she said.
Bishop said that after riding the bull that night, named Bonecrusher, approximately 300 people came forward to be baptized.
A similar effort made headlines last year when Faith Chapel Christian Center, a megachurch near Birmingham, Alabama celebrated the opening of its $26 million dollar, six-dome entertainment center, which features a 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.
“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.”
However, not everyone concurs that such tactics are Scriptural or mirror the church model in the book of Acts. 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. “We are to go and tell, not to tell them to come in here and hear the message in the church [building]. The church is for the worship of God, for building up of the saints, for making disciples and training them so they can go into all the world and preach the gospel.”
“The gospel is an offense. The cross is called in Scripture an offense,” he said. “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.”
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