- The Washington Times - Monday, June 23, 2014

A Joplin, Missouri, church has decided the best way to “get more people to follow Jesus” and join the congregation is to hold a raffle — with two Black Rain AR-15 assault rifles as the prize.

The first raffle was held at Ignite Church on Father’s Day to entice more young men to attend services, the Joplin Globe reported. But now the pastor is saying that more might be planned — anything to draw in the youthful male crowd.

“If we get people in the door, we get to preach the gospel,” said the church’s lead pastor, Heath Mooneyham, Raw Story reported. “If we can get more people to follow Jesus, I’ll give away 1,000 guns. I don’t care.”

The church particularly wants to boost its participation of the 18- to 35-year-old crowd, Raw Story reported.

“That’s the biggest black hole in our society,” Mr. Mooneyham said.

The rifle giveaway is just one in the latest line of changes the church has made to try and entice more youthful attendees. Services now start later — at 10 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. — and loud rock music blasts from the pulpit. Even the pastor screams youth, with a mohawk and notable tattoos. And part and parcel of church offerings are scheduled huntings and shooting range events.

“We’re not trying to put on a show for anybody,” Mr. Mooneyham said, Raw Story reported. “We’re just dudes.”

But not all are on board with the church’s latest tactic.

“I think giving away weapons, with all the violence in this country, gives way to new violence,” said Steve Urie, a pastor at the Joplin Diversity Fellowship, in Raw Story. “I don’t think it’s just nontraditional. I think it’s careless and reckless.”