HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - It seems that churches in the Grand Strand area are using the shock and awe technique to attract residents during the Easter season.
It all began with Barefoot Church in North Myrtle Beach, displaying an 'eviction sign' to advertise their Easter service, but the text of the message had many residents doing a double take.
Now another church in Horry County seems to be employing the same methods.
WMBF News viewer Joey Johnson was "appalled" to receive a mailer from The Rock, Conway's Community Church that reads 'Bunnies stay dead, Jesus didn't."
"It just makes you sit back and wonder," Johnson said. "Is that really necessary? Is that the way to do it, to get your church recognized?"
That message is accompanied by the photo of bunny lying in a street with scattered Easter eggs, and it appears that the bunny is dead.
A similar advertisement can be found on The Rock's web site with a link to details about their Easter service.
In an excerpt from a blog post entitled "ROCK'ing Easter 2012" by Kevin Childs, Lead Pastor at The Rock, Mr. Childs says:
We've mailed out thousands of mass-mail invitations. We printed thousands of (some would say inappropriate) Invite Cards. We put an ad in the local paper. We put an e-invite on the Facebook page and web site. But nothing, and I mean NOTHING, comes close to the power of a personal invitation.
WMBF News spoke to Lead Pastor Kevin Childs who said the message was entirely his idea. Childs continued that the idea behind the message was to get people to think about the reason for the Easter season, and not the commercial aspect of candy and bunnies.
"We hope to get people's attention," Childs said during an interview. "It was a calculated risk. Are we willing to offend some to get the attention of other folks who have no regard for Jesus, the church, the gospel or Easter? That's a risk a we're always willing to take."
Childs said while the message may be offensive to some, he believes it is far more offensive to change the focus of Easter from Jesus Christ to a bunny.
Christian Church of Myrtle Beach Youth Pastor Matthew Wilson said he understands the message Childs tried to convey, but believes there was probably a more tactful way to present it. Every year, Christian Church puts on a reenactment of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, an admittedly graphic scene, Wilson said, but one that the church does not force people to view.
"We don't put the scene of Jesus Christ on the cross out in front of highway where children can come," Wilson said. "Parents make the choice when they come if they want their children to see this."
Wilson said he worries The Rock's dead bunny Easter invitation could offend believers and non-believers alike.
"I hope children didn't get this postcard," Wilson said.
Do you feel this message is too graphic, or does it efficiently reach the heart of their audience? How would you feel if you opened your mailbox to find this image?
Log on to the WMBF News Facebook page right now and let us know what you think.
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