Dear fellow church,
Maybe you’re reading this and you love the idea of Unconditional. Maybe you’re reading this and you’re angry because you think Christians shouldn’t associate with strippers.
Wherever you stand, I hope you take a chance to see God’s grace and mercy.
For too long the church has worried more about making productive members of society than truly introducing people to the life-transforming relationship with Jesus. We at Unconditional want to change that. Because we do not think one people group needs Jesus more than another.
We go to strip clubs to tell people they’re loved by God because that is where God called us to specifically. We don’t go to clubs because we believe the dancers are more broken and need extra Christian attention. We believe broken is broken is broken, and God tells us to spend our time loving instead of judging people who do not know have a relationship with Christ (1 Corinthians 5:12).
To us, there is no spiritual difference between someone working at a strip club who does not know and follow God, and someone working at Starbucks who does not know and follow God. (Romans 8:38-39). What breaks our hearts is that is not how many of our friends at the club are treated by many in the church.
In scripture, we see Jesus continually spending time and building friendships with people the religious and the world looked down on as less than. (Matthew 9, John 8, Luke 19, John 4, etc). We see him spending time with tax collectors, prostitutes, adulteresses, fishermen, day laborers, ordinary people with struggles and obstacles that society stigmatized and wrote off.
Today, women working in the sex industry are some of the most stigmatized people in our society and in our churches. And that is why we think Jesus would spend time with people who work in strip clubs.
We strive to be counter cultural by extending unconditional friendship to women working in the industry, and to help remove that stigma. We strive to see women working in clubs how God sees them, made in his image, loved beyond measure.
We are not going to clubs with an agenda of fixing people or making them more tolerable to society, but to introduce people to a radical journey with Jesus through genuine friendship.
There is no shortage of people telling women in the industry that they are not good enough.
At one of the clubs we go to, there was a man who would come, hold his Bible up, and tell women as they walked into work that they are whores who are going to hell. One day, the DJ came out and told the man that he was doing more damage than good. He told him that there were church ladies who came to the club regularly to build relationships and tell people about Jesus, and he was hurting our work. The man got in his car and left, and never returned.
Women in the industry don’t need to continue to hear the narrative of judgement and “not good enough.” I once had a friend at the club tell me a patron who was buying a dance from her said she could come to church with him sometime, but would need to “clean herself up first.”
As if he were good enough, and she were too far from grace.
I have had women tell me they were once in church, but while in an abusive marriage, the church told them they must stay in the abusive marriage and be submissive to however her husband chose to rule his household. I’ve had women tell me about their parents who used religion to beat and abuse them as children.
Religion has been used as a means of abuse and manipulation for many of the women we have met; the complete opposite of the gospel.
That is why we believe so strongly in sharing about grace, and God’s deep love.
And that is why we beg the church to do better. I love the church. I believe the church has the opportunity to bring pieces of heaven to earth. We have the opportunity to show Christ’s love to people the world writes off. But we as the church have so much farther to go.
Church, let’s not pretend to love people, really love them (Romans 12:9 ). Church, let’s love people so much that we share not only the good news of the gospel, but our whole lives too. (1 Thessalonians 2:8) Begin real genuine friendships. That is how people will see the gospel. That is how people will ask who this Jesus is.
Before I started Unconditional, I was plagued by a religious spirit and a judgemental attitude. In the last six years of ministry, God has peeled back those layers over time. He has shown me the power of being someone’s friend, and showing grace upon grace upon grace, and how much I need that grace too. I am messy. I am broken. I am in constant need of God’s grace. Why, then, would I judge someone else’s need for grace? If I had not been a part of Unconditional, I fear I would have never gotten to truly know the Lord. I would have continued to be plagued by striving to be perfect, and judging everyone who wasn’t. I truly found God when I started going to a strip club.
However God calls you to be a part of Unconditional, I hope that your life can be impacted the same way.
Founder and CEO