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Mattingly comes through again with "More than ‘holy hotties’"

It’s no secret on this blog that I really enjoy the posts from GetReligion.com, a blog of several journalists who pick up on stories in the mainstream press that A) cover the religion angle of a story well, B) miss it completely, or C) are somewhere in between. Terry Mattingly’s post this morning (More than ‘holy hotties’) falls into category A—and is well worth the short read.

Mattingly picked up on a story in the LA Times “of ex-stripper Heather Veitch and her friends in the JC’s Girls Girls Girls ministry to women in the sex industry.” Matting says “the Los Angeles Times took this story pretty seriously and ended up with a feature — by reporter Stephen Clark — that offers some insights into the sex trade as well as into one born-again woman’s journey out of it. This is more than a novelty story for winking headline writers.”

The key aspect of this story? According to Mattingly: "[T]his unconventional ministry is, in fact, part of a mainstream church — the 1,700-member Sandals (Southern Baptist) Church in Riverside, Calif., and is in the annual budget." Why is that significant? Because, as Mattingly points out, as part of the ministry, young women from the church volunteer to go to strip clubs, pay for lap dances but then use the time alone with the strippers to share the Gospel.

That is unconventional. But this kind of ministry is getting to the core of the Gospel. Mattingly pulls another quote from the LA Times article:

As California Southern Baptist spokesman Terry Barone bluntly states:

“These women are doing what Jesus did,” he said. “He ministered to prostitutes and tax collectors. He had a penchant for going to the people who needed his message — not the religious people.”

(Coincidently, I read that passage in Mark’s Gospel last night.) At the end of the post, Mattingly concludes that this story challenges us with some hard questions. If I were to rearticulate those questions, I would ask them this way: How willing are we to buck convention (and what that will look like to others) and reach out to those who truly need God? And, perhaps, a deeper question: How willing are we to admit we are one of those that truly need God? If we are willing to see ourselves as needing the Message as deeply as a stripper, then convention isn’t as important as we thought.

It’s a fascinating post with sharp insights customary of Mattingly—it's a post you need to read for yourself. Be sure to read through the growing list of comments at the bottom of the post as well.

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