To answer the question, no this book isn’t really about picking up strippers. It is about a Pastor (Todd Stevens) and his Church’s efforts to perform outreach ministry to all the people in his area no matter who they are with no strings attached. He focuses on what we might commonly refer to as friendship evangelism or, “loving them into the kingdom.” This focus is seemingly exclusive in regards to other forms of evangelism.
The title of the book is misleading, but you have to ask, “If you are a Christian, why are you buying a book about picking up strippers and then are disappointed when you find out it isn’t really?” It is a title that requires a second glance when browsing Christian titles. The book is definitely not about picking up strippers. It is however about outreach ministry and service to even the people you might look down on.
While reading this book I noticed that the author chose to quote heavily out of the, “Voice” version of the Bible. This is a big red flag to anyone who is a serious student of the word. It put my guard up immediately and caused me to be even more critical than I usually am.
Throughout the book Stevens is referencing things he and his Church have done and are doing. I know this is to encourage people to do something, but it comes across as, “Blowing his own horn.” “Look what I/we are doing!” I am giving Stevens the benefit of the doubt. Perhaps it is just because he is enthusiastic about what he is doing?
One of my concerns is that it took him about to the halfway mark before he had a clear gospel statement. I am giving him the benefit of the doubt here as well. Perhaps he assumes that the readers already know the gospel since they are buying a book about outreach. On the other hand, it is a book about outreach.
I’m sensitive to the seeming discouragement of other types of evangelism because I do some of the other types of evangelism. It is like Stevens precludes the appropriateness of other types of evangelism as unkind and harmful. He discourages it. Instead he teaches to do many and varied services and kind acts. He claims that it is not very likely that a person will be able to have a relationship with someone they just encountered and shared the gospel with. He hints that our motives are not loving or effective. The last time I checked the gospel is the power unto salvation and salvation comes by hearing. Salvation doesn’t come by having people give you stuff or by them being really super nice to you. It is God who does the saving. An angry man shouting the gospel from a soapbox does not save or condemn a person. They are already under the condemnation of sin. God’s gospel preached to the lost is what does the saving. This is probably my strongest criticism of the book. I can feel deeply for the person I’ve just met on the streets, or at work. They can tell that I care and they continue to listen. Even if they don’t respond in the affirmative I still keep in contact with them. When they do respond in the affirmative we develop a disciple/mentor relationship. I appreciate the outworking of love towards people, but his version seems to be a pragmatic formula for Church growth based on doing nice things to people.
Stevens never really makes it clear if his wife was providing meals in the strip club during the operating hours. He talks about how his wife would bring catered meals and gifts in to the club. I would hope that his wife and the other volunteer ladies would not be in the club during business hours. Even women can have temptations to be avoided. Again, let’s give them the benefit of the doubt and assume they were there before and/or after business hours.
Stevens tells a story about the Roman Catholic nun, Mother Teresa. In the story he makes it sound like she is a Christian or at least, worshipping the same God evangelicals worship. This is a very troubling issue. Mother Teresa was a self-admitted Universalist. Universalism is a heresy. These, in addition to other heresies of the Roman Catholic Church preclude them from being included as Christian. Stevens including the story in the way that he did demonstrates an imprecise ecumenism.
There are superior books on outreach and evangelism. This book might be helpful to the freshly born again to help them move the focus off of themselves and on to being Christ-like in their love, but it also might confuse them as well. We don’t want people to become works based in their soteriology. Keeping justification and sanctification clearly delineated will benefit the new believers. Throughout the book I just got the feeling that if you don’t do it his way then you are mean and not showing the love of Jesus. I doubt this is what Stevens intended.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers <http://booklookbloggers.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”