Missouri church lures young men to ‘follow Jesus’ with AR-15 assault rifle giveaway

By Tom Boggioni
Sunday, June 22, 2014 19:58 EDT
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In an effort to “get more people to follow Jesus,” a Joplin, Missouri, church held a raffle giving away two Black Rain AR15 assault rifles.

On Father’s Day June 15, Ignite Church gave away two of the weapons as part of a marketing strategy to bring more young men into the fold, according to the Joplin Globe.

“If we get people in the door, we get to preach the gospel,” said Heath Mooneyham, Ignite’s lead pastor. “If we can get more people to follow Jesus, I’ll give away 1,000 guns. I don’t care.”

The give-away was part of an outreach by Ignite Church to make inroads with the male age 18 to 35 demographic.

“That’s the biggest black hole in our society,” Mooneyham explained.

The church has already made adjustments in an attempt to draw a younger male crowd with Sunday services start later (10 a.m. and 11:30 a.m.), loud rock music, and a tattooed mohawked pastor.

“We’re not trying to put on a show for anybody,” Mooneyham said. “We’re just dudes.

Previously the church has sponsored shooting and hunting outings.

On Father’s Day, men were given the an opportunity to put their names in a hat to win one of two AR-15 rifles. Each father was eligible to submit a ticket for himself and a ticket for each of his children he brought to church with him. An additional ticket was given if a man brought his own dad.

Dan McCain, who owns a local guitar shop and plays lead guitar for the church’s band, was one of the two AR-15 winners.

“I was very happy to win the rifle. I’ve never won anything in my life, so it was exciting,” he said. “I enjoy hunting and target shooting. I haven’t had the opportunity to hunt in a while, but hope to change that this season.”

McCain added, “Firearm ownership does not equate to violence.”

Not everyone in the Joplin Christian community agrees with Ignite’s aggressive marketing methods.

“I think giving away weapons, with all the violence in this country, gives way to new violence,” said Steve Urie, pastor at the Joplin Diversity Fellowship. “I don’t think it’s just nontraditional. I think it’s careless and reckless.”

[Image Ignite Church Facebook]

Tom Boggioni
Tom Boggioni
Tom Boggioni is based in the quaint seaside community of Pacific Beach in less quaint San Diego. He writes about politics, media, culture, and other annoyances. Mostly he spends his days at the beach gazing at the horizon waiting for the end of the world, or the sun to go down. Whichever comes first.
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