Daily photo by Gary Lloyd|
Dave Anderson, pastor of Crosspoint Community Church, in front of one of the billboards the church is using to promote a sermon series. The billboard might be "a little strange" for the area but it's not obscene, he said.
Church uses 'mybestsexlife.com' billboards to advertise series
By Melanie B. Smith
firstname.lastname@example.org ∑ 340-2468
The billboards show a couple's bare feet entwined at the end of a bed. The image and title "mybestsexlife.com" can't help but raise eyebrows.
The message may seem more provocative when a visit to the Web site reveals the sponsor — a Decatur church.
It is marketing meant to be edgy, said Dave Anderson, pastor of Crosspoint Community Church. But he said the congregation does not intend to offend with its billboards on U.S. 31 South and Beltline Road Southwest.
Two viewers have called to complain, said Rod Bayless, general manager of the company that provided the billboard space, Lamar Advertising.
He said one caller was going online to the wrong Web site and the other ended a complaint after learning the a church is behind the billboards.
One e-mail to The Daily described the ads as pornographic.
"There is nothing pornographic about the billboard," Anderson said. "It's designed to get people's attention."
The church, which meets at River Oaks Cinema, is starting a "Pure Sex" sermon series about God's plan for sexuality. Anderson's topic Sunday is "The Greatest Sex You'll Ever Have." Another upcoming message title is "What Happens in Vegas Won't Stay in Vegas."
Pop culture puts sex everywhere — movies, TV, Internet, magazines and other mediums. Sex scandals show up in Hollywood, on Capitol Hill and even within religious groups.
"Nearly everyone is talking about it, yet the church is largely silent even when sexual issues are one of the leading problems in our nation," he said.
Anderson said it's important to let people know that Crosspoint is willing to help with the difficult subject.
According to the pastor, marriages are being wrecked by infidelity, pornography is growing at exponential rates and young people are having sex at alarmingly early ages.
"We won't be silent while the rest of our culture feeds misinformation and outright lies to people about a subject that was God's idea in the first place," he said. "Too often the church has been perceived as a place of condemnation and shame when it comes to the topic of sex."
Anderson said he has not gotten any complaints, though Lamar Advertising has referred callers to him.
Bayless said that this area doesn't get a lot of provocative ads. He said he saw a Daily story about some retail consultants viewing Decatur as a "Mayberry-ville," a reference to the '50s TV show.
He said Lamar adheres to principles of the Outdoor Advertising Association of America, which in part acknowledge First Amendment rights of advertisers but also assert a company's right to reject advertising that might be offensive or incompatible with community standards. Bayless said Lamar tries to carefully police ads. Crosspoint's billboard might be "a little strange" for the area but not obscene, he said.
Anderson said Crosspoint drew from a 2006 campaign by Grainger Community Church in Indiana. The church's billboards also referred people to a Web site. Anderson has described the Grainger church as innovative and successful in changing its community.
Crosspoint intentionally embraces new media. For instance, to promote a Grainger church conference Anderson starred in a video clip that parodied a jaunty "male enhancement" product ad. Grainger has a link to it posted at one of its Web sites, wiredchurches.com.
Crosspoint has put it and other original videos on YouTube, a video-sharing site, and one of them has received more than 61,000 views. Anderson also has a blog, a Web log or diary, that links to and from Crosspoint's Web site.
Anderson said in his blog that "Pure Sex" will be both awesome and awkward.
"Yes, you need to bring your friends," he wrote.
An earlier blog comment by Anderson drew complaints from an online critic of contemporary churches. Sliceoflaodicea.com said that sex and intimacy are "private and sacred rather than blog fodder."
Some who wrote comments at Slice described churches like Crosspoint as apostate, out of the faith. The word "Laodicea" comes from the book of Revelation, which said the early church at Laodicea was neither hot nor cold and should be spit out.
Anderson, though, said some don't understand Crosspoint's methods. Jesus had critics, too, he said.
"We live in a real world with real people who have real problems, and sex is one of those problems," the pastor said. "Our message is a message of hope for people who desperately need help, and our church will do things that are different to make a difference."
Dave Andersonís blog, moviepastor.typepad.com, lists statistics to explain why Crosspoint Community Church is addressing sexual behavior. The Barna Group found last year that todayís Americans in their 20s and 30s, compared with people over age 40, were:
Twice as likely to have viewed explicit movies or videos.
Two-and-a-half times more likely to report having had a sexual encounter outside of marriage.
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