I personally grew up in a suburban, Bible-belt town. There was a big stink when Hooters came to town as local churches protested and tempers flared. Local churches and the idea that all of our men and children would surely be ruined is what closed the doors of the Hooters not too far down the road.
My church, and many others in my town, marketed itself as a church more concerned with keeping themselves safe than saving others. We didn’t mind what happened to the people at the restaurant, as long as we didn’t have to deal with them and their junk.
Another church had a different idea. They joined up with their local Hooters. Can’t you hear it now? The First Annual First Baptist of Mayberry-Hooters Fun Run. The Associated Baptist Press tells the story.
A local pastor met a waitress at a gas pump, the manager later called and invited the whole staff to come eat at the restaurant, the staff and congregation began having Bible studies there, old ladies began making cookies for the waitresses and the two began working on community initiatives together.
That’s a highly abbreviated version, and the entire story is particularly spine-tingling and encouraging. It’s great to see churches marketing themselves as willing to do absolutely anything to show anyone the love of God.
No word on whether more unchurched males began attending, but I don’t think it’s a bad bet. And, strangely enough, this is not the first time Hooters has come up in the context of church marketing.