Shuck and Jive

Monday, August 03, 2009

Firecracker Evangelism

There was an article Saturday in The Tennessean about Presbyterians in a tizzy over membership loss. Boo hoo.

One bright spot in all of the hand-wringing was a quote from Rev. Jim Kitchens, minister of
Second Presbyterian in Nashville, A More Light Congregation (thank you very much). Second Pres. is hosting the National Welcoming and Affirming Conference: God's Whole Family over the Labor Day weekend.

Anyway Jim is mentioned in the article. He doesn't whine about losing members. Check it:
Local churches have grown by doing the basics right, said the Rev. Jim Kitchens, pastor of Second Presbyterian in South Nashville. If they do a good job taking care of youth and children, that can draw in young families.

Second Presbyterian has started several initiatives that bring in newcomers. This year, eight young adult volunteers are taking part in the Nashville Epiphany Project. They'll attend the church, live in a Christian community, and volunteer in programs like the Martha O'Bryan Center.

The church also is up front about being a more progressive church, and welcoming to people who are gay and lesbian. It's part of the Faith and Justice Congregational Network, with ties to Sojourners, a progressive Christian magazine. That more inclusive view helped bring Kim Huguley and her husband to Second Presbyterian.

"We were looking for a church with a bigger view of who is in God's family," she said. "We'd been looking for a church for several months. The first time we walked in, we knew it was a good match."

Kitchens tries not to worry about the future of his denomination. Less than half his congregation grew up Presbyterian, and most newcomers come from a number of denominational backgrounds.

For most people, he said, denominational ties matter less than making sure a local church is a good fit.
Good work to our friends in Nashville.

Not to toot our own horn, but we are progressive and we welcome gays and lesbians, too.
But we got a little something extra in

We are going to start blowing people up for Jesus.

"Genghis John" is showing the way. This article in the Wall Street Journal, of all places, is about this guy who straps firecrackers to himself and sets them off. He is my hero in part because his hero is Alice Cooper.

Why does he do this? I think it is his way to atone for sins:
"As far as why do I do this? We all make mistakes in life. And the mistakes I've made have made we want to help people."

Every time he puts on a show, he raises money for charity.

He also says, "Please don't do this at home, please."

He didn't say don't do it at church.
Every week we can blow somebody up. We don't blow them up for real; it just kind of looks and feels like it. I am thinking that this:
  1. Is a way to get butts in the pews
  2. Will help people atone for their sins
  3. Will raise a little cash for a mission project
This would be a great thing for Dick Cheney, for instance. Or the editors of the LayMAN. I say the next person who whines about losing church members gets firecrackers strapped to them.

Read about
"Genghis John" and watch the video. It's a hoot:


  1. I remember seeing a similar stunt at a St. Paul Saints ballgame, once. This woman, dressed like Wonder Woman wearing a bike helmet, stuffed herself into a box with M80s and set it off. The box blew to smithereens and she fell stunned to the ground, then got whoozily up a few seconds later and staggered off the field.

    It was pathetic.

    I guess I just don't go in for the schadenfruede stuff.

    However, kudos for thinking outside the box! (Just put the matches down, now, please.)

  2. I call dibs on lighting the fuse if you do Cheney.

  3. I take it your not enamored with the monster truck event where they smash cars, professional wrestling, or motor cycle jumps (ala Evel Knievel) my boyhood home hero.

    I am pretty lowbrow when you get right down to it!

    Seriously, the fireworks guy is kind of a sad story. He hurts himself, breaking ribs. I think he really does think of it as some kind of atonement.

    The tongue in cheek regarding the fireworks guy, notwithstanding, I thought Jim Kitchens at 2nd Pres Nashville was right on the money.

  4. Ugh, the bean counters bug me.

    Numbers, numbers, numbers. Because obviously that's the only gauge of how a ministry is doing.