“The city’s going to think I lost my mind.”
These were the words of Alabama Pastor Mike McClure Jr. last Sunday when he told his congregation about a billboard the church would be putting up in the city.
The billboard itself is not particularly shocking. It reads “Strip for me”, a paraphrase of Hebrews 12:1 in which the author of the New Testament book tells Christians to “strip off every weight that slows us down.”
What is shocking is the billboards placement. The church placed the billboard directly above the sign for the Palace Gentlemen’s Club, a strip club located in downtown Birmingham.
"We strategically picked the strip club because we want the brothers who are walking in...to know God has a greater cause for your life," the pastor said.
Pastor McClure added that he hopes patrons of the Palace Gentlemen’s Club will see the sign as they walk in and be inspired to reevaluate some of the habits in their lives.
"The scripture says...slows down, maybe your life is slow because of stuff you need to strip off. When you begin to strip watch how fast your life goes,” he said.
As of today, the billboard has been up for less than 24 hours. McClure says reactions are already pouring in from the Birmingham community.
"Everybody is going up in arms like ‘Wow! Strip for me? This is a church. I can't believe they are promoting this!’ But if you look at the sign it says "Strip for Me – Jesus,” he said.
Some in Birmingham’s Christian community have criticized the board, but McClure is standing by his churches decision.
“We're getting a lot of hate. A couple of pastors are trying to rebuke me but my backlash to them is Jesus and Nicodemus both were anointed and were both trying to save lives, they just went about it in two totally different ways so don't hate me if I choose Jesus ministry over Pharisee ministry,” the pastor said.
McClure is the pastor of The Rock Church in Birmingham. The four-year-old church has approximately 6,000 members, most of whom wholeheartedly supported the churches billboard.
"Our city … we're one of the top 10 cities for murder in the country. If we don't stand up for God and we don't stand up now, who will?” McClure asked.