Ignite Church: Raffling Rifles to Increase Flock


Good God. Holy moly. Somewhere in Heaven, Jesus is crying. 

The man died for our sins, or so says the Good Book, but Ignite Church in Joplin (no relation to Janis, or the Vatican), Missouri, is giving away guns to lure young men to join their parish. WWJS (Who Would Jesus Shoot) mother-f**kers. Forgot donuts. Or quilts. Or bake-sales.

The church kicked off the stratagem under the blessing of Ignite’s lead pastor Heath Mooneyham on June 15th. That’s right last Father’s Day. When the male congregants were given the opportunity to put their names in a hat to win one of two AR-15 rifles.

We think it would have been more appropriate to auction off two Beretta’s by having congregants place their names in the biretta (that stiff, square-shaped hat worn by the clergy). Also, they also should have called the initiative “The Silencer Auction.” Also, they probably shouldn’t have done this.

Each father entering in the free raffle could submit a ticket for himself, and was able to obtain tickets for each of his children IF they showed up to church with him. The papa could also could get another ticket for bringing his own dad. Just your average family-feel-good Sunday. 

“We thought instead of a lot of small things, we’d give away stuff the guys were interested in,” said Mooneyham. The give away was part of an outreach by Ignite Church to a specific demographic group: males age 18 to 35– the biggest gap in their brethren.

To lure them in Sunday morning services start later (10 a.m. and 11:30 a.m.) than many churches, the rock music is loud, pastor Mooneyham has tattoos and a short mohawk. In short, he’s a badass.

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

Just AR-toting, church-loving, dudes, who take their Sunday service late and wash it down with an assault rifle. Though Mooneyham believes that ‘assault’ is a misnomer when it comes to the AR.

To be clear, an AR-15 was one of several guns used in Aurora, Colorado, where a gunman killed 12 people in a movie theater.

This is not the first time Ignite has sparked attention. In 2011 the church drew national attention when it sponsored billboards featuring racy photos of couples to promote the idea that married couples ought to have more sex to avoid vices such as pornography and adultery.

Still, Mooneyham has maintained that goal is to get people in the doors. “If we can get more people to follow Jesus,” he said, “I’ll give away 1,000 guns. I don’t care.”

Maybe Ignite should stick to sexy billboards?

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