One of the advantages (and disadvantages) of taking over an existing brand and/or company is that you inherit its history, following, and associations.
Realize, when we assumed XXXchurch, we also acquired its…
- existing following
- social media presence
- website traffic
- digital footprint
- and reputation
Generally this is not a bad thing. But then again, it’s not always a good thing.
Earlier this year I contacted the director of a nonprofit organization that hosts annual leadership summits focused on recovery and sexual integrity. I thought to myself, “Why not make a splash and be a top sponsor for the dang thing so we can let people know that the new XXXchurch is here, it’s different, under new leadership, and still very hard at work.”
Typically the top sponsor packages for events like this are not cheap. But, we felt that it was a worthwhile investment if we could reacquaint leaders in this area of ministry with our brand and its multiple resources. So I fired off an email asking where I could sign up and pay.
Imagine my surprise when the director contacted me saying he wanted to chat about the sponsorship opportunity first. I mean usually conferences can’t wait to cash in on advertisers. I agreed to get on a call with him a few days after he emailed me.
We jumped on the phone and he asked me, “Why do you want to sponsor this event?” I explained our mindset and intentions and expected him to come back with an “Ok great – what’s your credit card number?”
Except, he didn’t.
Instead he said he was not willing to let XXXchurch sponsor their event on any level because he felt we had been a historically toxic brand and was not very popular with many of his conference members. He went on to cite various things XXXchurch had done over 15 years ago that offended him and others in his organization.
I was a bit shocked, apologized (even though I had nothing to do with his hurt rear end) and then explained that we were under new leadership and that it wasn’t reasonable to hold us accountable for someone else’s “sins” of the distant past. He apologized and restated that we could not be sponsors, but then suggested I register to attend in hopes that we could connect and build some trust for the following year.
Can you say, “HARD PASS?”
The truth is that over the past two decades and especially in the earlier years XXXchurch did pull off a lot of stunts and shocking moves. That was the style…shock and awe. That strategy got a lot of attention, sometimes not good.
Below are some of our more notable exploits:
2002 – The AVN Show
XXXchurch set up a booth inside the AVN Adult Entertainment Expo in Las Vegas to promote a brand new website as an alternative to porn. Armed with a “borrowed” rabbit mascot costume, leather couch, and some Bibles liberated from their church’s women’s ministry, a small team took their message to the masses in what was to set the stage for years of outreaches to over 100 porn and sex shows.
2004 – Pete the Porno Puppet
Geico can have its charming little lizard. We had the one and only Pete the Porno Puppet here to educate parents about the dangers of porn. This one definitely caught some flack but also raised some needed awareness.
Here’s Pete’s first video.
2005 – Missionary Positions documentary
Partnering up with director Bill Day in the creation of his documentary Missionary Positions was a very controversial move, especially in Christian circles given the film’s R-rating. But it got many eyes on a then 3-year old ministry and their founders who as IMBD described… ”two real-life heroes fighting the good fight.”
2006 – Porn and Pastors Campaign
Our team went to the 2006 Catalyst Conference, described as “a next-generation leaders conference” started by notable leaders such as Andy Stanley, Reggie Joiner, John Maxwell, Lanny Donoho. While at the conference we slid postcards under all the hotel doors of the convention goers highlighting the fact that many pastors struggle with porn and hotel porn rentals increase when Christian conventions come to town.
As you can imagine, that was not a popular move with those attending or hosting the event.
2006 – Wally the Wiener
A giant inflatable penis with the words “Wally the Wiener ”and “XXXchurch.com” right below. Enough said?
2006 – Jesus Loves Porn Stars Bible
Does ‘Jesus Loves Porn Stars’ Bible Go Too Far? That was the headline of an ABC article covering XXXchurch’s first edition of the famous (or infamous) Bible that has been handed out to more than 100,000 people over the past 2 decades. Not only did this one get some raised eyebrows from Christians, no printer in the USA would make it for us.
And that is just a sampling of XXXchurch’s many unorthodox tactics used to shine the light on the issues surrounding porn and sex addiction, both inside and outside the church. Admittedly, our past use of shock and awe tactics have backfired from time to time. Feelings hurt, words twisted, and sometimes the message got lost in the noise.
But there was a method behind the madness (usually). We wanted people to take notice when no one else had the guts to tackle the topics we embraced every day.
And in that sense, not much has changed.
- We will continue to say what needs to be said.
- We won’t avoid the tough subjects.
- We will continue to push people outside their comfort zones.
- We aim to get conversations around sex and sexuality out in the open where they belong.
And that won’t always be very popular. It might even cost us a seat at the popular kids evangelical table or get us uninvited from a few conferences here and there.
But that’s ok, because we ain’t in this thing for glory.
We aren’t the outrageous shock and awe people any longer.
We no longer do stunts with the sole aim of getting media attention and clicks.
We don’t set out with the intention of embarrassing or ticking people off. That sort of stuff isn’t really productive and doesn’t work because very little shocks anyone these days.
However, we will continue to be outspoken about our views and opinions with how society and the church talk and approach the topics of sex, sexualty, porn, and masturbation. Because someone needs to be that voice, so it might as well be us.
And if brutal honesty shocks or offends some, then so be it.
Welcome to the new XXXchurch.