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Touchdown Jesus

On this day after Christmas, it’s always good to peer into the “they meant well, but it sure turned out badly” file. Today’s entry is “Touchdown Jesus” outside Solid Rock Church in Monroe, Ohio – just South of Cincinnati.
I’ve heard it’s the largest sculpture of Jesus in North America. The statue sits in front of the baptismal pool within viewing distance of highway 75. On the negative side (other than it just looking weird of course) is that it’s actually made of Styrofoam and fibeglass, originally constructed on the beaches of Jacksonville, Florida and then hauled in sections to Monroe. The cost? A baffling $250,000. I won’t even go into the bad art discussion, or the “what else they could have done with the money” discussion, or the “Christians look bad enough without this stuff” argument. I’m afraid I’ll go to my grave not understanding what some pastors think is effective ministry…

Any thoughts?

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  1. I’ll bet this pastor’s messages are filled with football metaphor’s, his head deacon is the high school football coach and his board is filled with all the fathers of the team. Can’t you see their wives rolling their eyes as they try to sell all that junk at the church rummage sale for the missionary fund right under the touchdown Jesus Idol? Oh well!  

  2. The pastor raises and sells quarter horses, is featured in his own collection of gospel/country/blue grass records.

    Its a different church experience to be sure …

  3. Wow I actually never thought I would run into this argument on this website. I mean actually being a member of this congregation and knowing the pastors really well, I hear this argument alot. One being You could of gave all that money to the poor or as christians isnt it wrong to worship images of stone. Which to there rebuttal is first and foremost they give a large sum of money to the poor, not to mention, at the church we have plenty of outreaches for the homeless. I believe the church does there part in that area, and giving more will never end poverty. Second, to answer the question about effective ministry this statue has created alot of public attention on and off the roads. One trucker wrote us saying that the statue made him think about his relationship with God and he recommitted his life. Another driver called us and said he was about to commit suicide and because he saw Jesus on the road he was reminded of what he had heard of when he was younger and gave his life to Jesus. Alot of publicity has came with this statue. Recently it was on MTV,cnn,and foxnews, not to mention all the media outlets that first spoke of it when it was placed outside. Anything that churches do that requires a large sum of money people are going to criticise( unless its giving to the poor). I hear it all the time. People outside the church feel that the only use for the church’s money is for the homeless, and for other conventional methods of evangelism.
    I think it has been an effective tool for ministry, in that it has drawn many people to visit the church. Alot of people have drawn curiosity by the staue and have came to see what the church is all about. It has even produced salvation which should be the primary goal for any outreach. On the negative side yea it does look weird. I don’t think its that great of a statue, especially for the price.

  4. 'round these here parts we hear a lot about "thinking outside the box" and "engaging the secular culture".  And taste is a matter of ….. well …. personal taste.  I remember the derision of the giant praying hands at ORU.  Rather than piling on (no pun intended) the "touchdown, Jesus" tag, I'd like to cut this church a bit of slack.  Anything the organized church does will be greeted with ridicule by some segment of the non-believing population.  I hate to see Christians doing the same thing — at least in a public forum.  It kind of reminds me of a recent blasting of "Facing the Giants".  Time will tell whether the benefits of this giant sculpture outweigh any damage caused by its perceived tackiness.  I'm adopting a wait and see attitude.

  5. I think “perceived tackiness” is the key here, and Stevan’s brought up a good point. In the past, the Christian world built great cathedrals, sponsored magnificant passion plays, wrote the greatest music, painted the greatest art, and literally transformed Western civilization. The greatest minds for hundreds of years were CHRISTIAN thinkers. But now, we build churches out of metal buildings, produce poorly made movies, write bad “Christian fiction” (it’s become it’s own category) and create statues out of fiberglass. To answer PaulJoshua’s point, this statue wasn’t featured on MTV, CNN, and Fox News because it was an example of the kind of great art our culture should aspire to. Let’s face it – they were making fun of it. Now we can always take solace in saying “the world is against us.” But I think first, we need to look at the quality of what we’re doing out there. If we want to change the world, we have to gain their respect first.

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