College Ministry Practices Unconventional Way of Evangelism

( [email protected] ) Aug 14, 2004 11:38 AM EDT

Single Focus Atlanta, Christian college ministry based in Marietta, GA, is leading a very unconditional Bible study as a way to reach out to the “unreached” people, who wouldn’t normally be interested in Bible studies. In addition to holding regular Bible discussions at the house of the memebers, Single Focus, a nondenominational group founded by Nelson Foster, has been holding Bible discussions at popular restaurants in the town for the past four years.

Director of the ministry, Rick Lamborn, testified about the success of evangelism by holding Bible studies at restaurants: "We've seen a few of the waitresses become Christians. One of the former managers here became a Christian. So it's worked. The whole object, in reality, is that this is just to get inside the door.”

"We're about reaching the lost, and I think we're called to do that," he said. "Our attitude is to go where the un-churched and the de-churched are."

Not everyone agreed at first about holding Bible studies at popular restaurants where loud music is being played with the majority of people come to drink and socialize. Charles Bailer III, who joined Single Focus two years ago, said, “Somebody comes up to me and says, come to a Bible study at Hooters. And my first reaction was ... I can see McDonald's or another restaurant, but why Hooters?"

However now Bailer enjoys doing Bible study at the restaurant and says he appreciates the casual atmosphere.

Kristin Brooks, a 20-year-old Kennesaw State University student, said she values the weekly sessions at Hooters, for their "practical life lessons" and opportunities for evangelism.

The Rev. Dennis Rogers, a Southern Baptist and member of Single Focus' board of directors, added that the spirit of the group is to go where conventional ministries do not. He said, "It's something Jesus would've done because he looked past what people may think and looked at what people's needs are."

Such unconventional way of holding Bible studies has also drawn much criticism from other Christians. Still, some say Single Focus' presence at the restaurant doesn't fit with Christian ethics.

"Everyone thinks it's hypocritical," said Victoria B. Pierce, president of the National Organization for Women's Cobb County chapter. "Why would any church group go there?”

Terry Erickson, director of evangelism for InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, a national campus ministry organization, similarly questioned whether such study could be effective.

"The whole idea is wanting to go where people are at, but the question is, can the place where you're meeting, can it enhance what you're trying to accomplish or does it distract?" he said. "I think someone who comes to Hooters is looking for something else."