Stupid Church Tricks: Fake Kidnapping
Youth pastor takes a lesson about persecution too far.

Are you trying to develop a more hospitable, seeker-friendly atmosphere in your church? Here's the first step: Don't kidnap people at gunpoint.

A church in Pennsylvania is under investigation for taking a lesson about persecution too far. Glad Tidings Assembly of God arranged to have two men with real (unloaded) guns raid a youth group meeting. They covered the teens' heads, loaded them into a van, and took them to the pastor's house. The pastor was covered in blood and appeared to be tortured by the kidnappers. The entire scene was a stunt to teach the teens about persecution of Christians in other parts of the world.

Because at least some of the teens were unaware that the raid was a stunt, the church is being investigated for crimes against a minor–a second-degree felony that may result in up to 10 years in prison.

"They pulled my chair out from underneath me and then they told me to get on the ground," one teen reported. "I was the first person to go into the van. I had my hands behind my back they said 'just do as I say and you won't be hurt'."

Pastor John Lanza said the lesson was a surprise "to secure the shock value of it and make it much more real."

"There are people in other countries that live under this environment on a regular daily basis," Lanza said. "They're not warned that their persecutors are coming in."

I wonder how they teach about the crucifixion?

March 29, 2012