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Would You Put Your Pastor in a Box?

March 28, 2009 by

One church would, and they’re even aiming too. In a David Blaine-esque stunt, they’ve promised to suspend their pastor in a box for three days if 4,000 people show up on Easter.

You can visit the site, but there’s not much more to say about it other than that.

This type of marketing doesn’t sit exceptionally well with me. It communicates that you should go to whichever church will pull the biggest stunt, and it creates a pressure for one-upping other antics. One youth pastor will drink a cheeseburger that has been run through the juicer, but the other will shave his head.

I realize we should be willing to go as far as necessary to make disciples, I just don’t think I’m convinced that these sorts of stunts are a good way to do that.

Post By:

Joshua Cody

Josh Cody served as our associate editor for several years before moving on to bigger things. Like Texas. These days he lives in Austin, Texas, with his wife, and you can find him online or on Twitter when he's not wrestling code.
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93 Responses to “Would You Put Your Pastor in a Box?”

  • wally lowman
    March 28, 2009

    I can see Jesus plotting to put Judas in a box for a few days to get a few more people at passover. “Hey Judas, come here for a minute.”

  • ryan guard
    March 28, 2009

    Bring on the helicopter egg drops. This sort of thing is so uncreative. It doesn’t attract me or compel me to want to come to your church. It shows me that most Christians are already suspended in a box…

  • Mike
    March 28, 2009

    I agree with you. Why do stunts like this? Do they draw attention to your pastor and your church? Or do they draw attention to Jesus? Just sayin

  • Michael Gowin
    March 28, 2009

    This is ridiculous. Stunts are great for attracting attention, not so good at building relationships. Rohit Bhargava makes this point in his pithy book, Personality Not Included.

  • adam mclane
    March 28, 2009

    I’m all about the publicity stunt concept. But don’t copy the worst publicity stunts. This David Blaine thing is… just a little too weird for me.
    Was Geraldo not available? Couldn’t the crack a secret cave of a former pastor and find the millions?

  • Jean-Guy
    March 28, 2009

    This is a cheesy attempt to bypass the daily grind of making connections through a lifestyle lived in Jesus. My guess is they’ll depart as fast as they arrived.

  • Lindsey
    March 28, 2009

    I agree that while this can seem to be a great attempt it completely looses focus. I think it is very distracting. I’m no joy kill that is for sure. I enjoy my share of goofiness here and there but it has to be in the right place.

  • Chilly
    March 28, 2009

    whatever it takes to get them, is what it will take to keep them…
    unconditional, genuine love is a better option. in the words of DC Talk: “When Love (Jesus) is in the house, and the house is packed
    So much soul I left the back door cracked” – Ha! A old-school, hip-hop, truth…
    Note: Jesus could have easily ‘suspended’ Himself in the air indefinitely (no crane or box required)… He didn’t.

  • ryan guard
    March 28, 2009

    Only a few people were at Jesus’ transfiguration… I guess that was a marketing failure.

  • Mark Andrew Pope
    March 29, 2009

    Really? Suspended in a box?? You know, what makes me really sad is that I know this church – or rather, know about it. I knew the previous music director – such a man of God… this reeks of Las Vegas gone bad. Showy. No inherent lesson learned. But, what is really interesting to me is that the site that is linked here doesn’t directly link back to the church website. Nor does the church link to the “Pastor in a Box” website.
    I think they already know to distance themselves somewhat from this ridiculous and silly event. When you’re gettin’ gimmicky to get people to church, you’re just desperate because you’ve tried every other quick pop culture trick to get tushes in the seats. It makes me deeply, deeply sad.
    Hey Calvary, try this – faith in God. It works.

  • Bill Morris
    March 29, 2009

    I think this is one of those things that can really only be understood when your involved weekly with a church like Calvary. I asked questions to some local folk that attend and they completely were excited about this. They mentioned how it was more of a challenge for their church, and not so much evangelism tool. They said the church is well over that number of people already and most of the people have gotten to know this pastor and they love his spontaneity. In no means are they trying to get publicity out of it. And the site does go back to the church site. The site is a bit more modern then their actual church site, but i guess thats fine. Many of our sites aren’t great looking themselves. And they show the actual box on the site, it’s nothing like that David Blane guy. I’m looking forward to it. Hope your church has fun. Wish churches that are capable of doing things like this would lighten up a bit. When most of our churches have a harvest fest or spring time carnival don’t we tend to put our pastors in the dunk tank? and dont we make the most money then? come on!

  • Jason Delgado
    March 29, 2009

    I don’t have any idea what the rest of you guys are talking about. I went on the site and read up on what exactly they’re doing, and frankly, I think this is an awesome idea! For one, it sure got your attention, didn’t it? However, the funny thing is it wasn’t intended to impress you church people, it was intended to get the intention of unchurched people. What really frustrates me is when a guy gets a creative idea (that may grate against traditional norms) to win just 1 person to Christ, he gets slaughtered for it by his own camp. Most of us pastors were sitting in dunk tanks back in the 80s and 90s at church block parties and so forth letting people throw balls at us to dunk us in water just to get the attention of 1 unchurched person that we’re not stuffy religious people. Yeah, the idea is way outdated now, but back then, many pastors criticized and ridiculed this kind of creativity. I guess nothing’s changed. Same stuff, different generation. We soon forget that Jesus did many radical, out-of-the-box creative things that were against the grain of the traditional norms of His day. Why? to connect with people so they could connect with the Kingdom of God. And the Pharasees crucified Him for it in the end. I think the message Pastor Ben and Calvary Church is trying to convey is that we love unchurched people so much, we’re willing to make ourselves fools that 1 may come to find Christ. Gee, I think I remember reading something like that somewhere in the Bible. Oh yeah, that’s right! The Apostle Paul said that. Pastor Ben, stay the course! When you guys win scores of people to Christ on Easter because you were willing to make yourself foolish in the eyes of the world, all this criticism will be worth it. When you connect those new believers into your discipleship ministry to ground them in Christ and help them discover their spiritual gifts and assimilate them into the Body of Christ to serve others and reach their potential in God, all the criticism in the world will be worth it. When those new believers come up out of baptism waters, all the criticism will be worth it. A while from now, when one of them gives their testimony before the church and tells them that their lives were changed by the love of Christ because they just had to come the Easter Sunday to find out what this “pastor in a box” thing was all about; all the criticism will be worth it. When those very people one day are in lay-leadership of Calvary helping you raise up the next generation, all the criticism will be worth it. And in the end, all the naysayers will be silenced. Stay the course. Get in that box, let everyone criticize you for it, let the media come out and do stories on it, and reap a great harvest for Jesus! I guess it is true, the foolish things of the world still confound the wise.

  • roger george
    March 29, 2009


  • stacy
    March 30, 2009

    A word from a member of the unchurched: “Yep, still not going.”

  • Ismael Burciaga
    March 30, 2009

    Roger I love you! You always make me smile. Calvary Church is growing in every department including Familia de Dios!!

  • Kathy Chatterton
    March 30, 2009

    Come on people, it’s about the results not the means. If we can draw people to the church..even if it’s only because they want to see the Pastor put in a box…but then their lives are touched and ministered to…well…mission accomplished! If the “norm” was working..then every church would be standing room only. So to all of you criticising…time to think outside of your own box!

  • Mark Andrew Pope
    March 30, 2009

    Jason Delgado makes some really good points… thanks for taking the time to really explain a few of those ideas to me. And, I’m seeing a few posts that say that Calvary church is growing – and I really am glad about that! I don’t doubt the faithfulness of their message!
    My post, no doubt, was written with strongly worded opinions and for “flash” value. And, so I apologize for any offense.
    But, I’m still not personally sold on the idea of suspending someone in a box for a few days as an incentive to get people to invite others to church or to draw people to your church.
    Again, I appreciate Jason Delgado and his logical (and Biblical) explanation. That made me think. And, I think that was a very Christian way response to this topic.
    We really shouldn’t be disparaging each other, should we…?
    Calvary Church, best of luck with your campaign!

  • Scott
    March 30, 2009

    I don’t mean to be argumentative, but I disagree. I think the means are just as important as the results.
    Taken to an extreme, couldn’t a results-based way of thinking justify threatening, paying, or tricking someone to convert them? In each of those cases, I don’t think the gospel is well-served, and I’m afraid of the kind of “Christians” that we’d end up with.

  • Aaron
    March 30, 2009

    We talk about contextulizing the Gospel in our cities and then when someone trys to do something that is not what makes sense in our context we make them sinners. Calvary Church and Pastor ben are not changing the Gospel or Preaching a false Gospel they are putting a box on the roof of their church to get people to notice and start talking about them and if you ask me it has worked because one of the biggest church marketing blogs is talking about it and all of you are sharing your opinions and saying it is wrong and does not work and all along it is working because exactly what they are trying to accomplish is being accomplished so as much as you do not like what they are doing…. IT IS WORKING!

  • Fellow Believer
    March 30, 2009

    Thank you Calvary for doing what you can to motivate your members to reach out to the unchurched. You are a blessing to the Kingdom of God. Anyone agree?

  • Kenna
    March 30, 2009

    Interesting how Christians seem to be the ones in an uproar about this. I don’t think this idea was ever intended to be some deep Theological motive. It’s a guy trying to light a fire under people to get them to reach out and invite their friends to church thru humorous creativity. What is the big deal? He isn’t asking anyone to go into the box. It’s simply a tool to get people excited about reaching out to people…an incentive. Last time I checked, businesses, bosses and even parents use reward incentives all the time to encourage individuals to do things they do always “feel” like doing.
    And to the individual who posted the comment: “This is a cheesy attempt to bypass the daily grind of making connections through a lifestyle lived in Jesus.” I think it is a pretty harsh judgement on your part. You have no idea how much the pastor or his congregation pour into connecting with others. Yes, it’s a cheesy idea…I’m pretty sure that Pastor Ben even admits that in his quote.
    I think it’s about time that people lighten up and have a sense of humor. It’s not putting anyone out, except for the people who choose to take the challenge. And let’s say they succeed…will those of you who are against this idea be upset that 4,000 people for 2 weeks in a row hear the gospel? Remember, the message of Jesus is not going into a sealed box…it is still being preached every opportunity this church gets.
    It may not be your style, but remember…’this is how everyone will recognize that you are my disciples—when they see the love you have for each other,” John 13:35. I think it’s about time to chill out and support fellow churches who may have different techniques but are striving for the common purpose…to reach and touch lives for Jesus.

  • andrew
    March 30, 2009

    O how i hate American Christianity… Here’s an idea… rather than tear each others churches and ideas down lets love people… lets love the unchurched, lets love the churched, and everyone in limbo between the two… Anyone thats been to Calvary knows that their heart is for people… So why judge a church you have never been to? If you have never been there to know their heart you have no right to judge… Rather than judge go love someone… thats all the people of Calvary strive to do…

  • Jay Lizzle Olizzle
    March 30, 2009


  • Sean John
    March 30, 2009

    ok heres my input on it. i dont see how you “Christians” can be posting all this crap about what calvary is doing to get out and reach out. Its like theres 2 sides here, thats what pushs people away from church, is people like you who fight with other churchs about what they are doing because you think its a dumb idea thats not gonna work. Why dont you actually backup what pastor ben is trying to do and maybe see some growth in you own life in the process.

  • Leslie Hirschman
    March 30, 2009

    I am an active member of Calvary church and we are all very excited about this opportunity to spread the word of God to unbelievers. What a wonderful way to bring believers and unbelievers together at a critical time of year to hear about the resurrection of Christ. Pastor George and Pastor Ben are both amazing men of God and in a time of tragedy in my life helped me in so many ways. I can’t thank them or the church enough for preaching such a wonderful word. I’m sure I speak for the church family as a whole when I say we are very proud of our Pastors and very proud to be members of such an awesome church! 4000+ is becoming more and more realistic every person that hears about pastorinabox. If Pastor Ben can reach just one unbeliever, it will be well worth it!!!!

    March 30, 2009


  • Concerned
    March 30, 2009

    Matthew 5:22
    But I say, if you are even angry with someone, you are subject to judgment! If you call someone an IDIOT, you are in danger of being brought before the court. And if you curse someone, you are in danger of the fires of hell.

  • Brandon Davis
    March 30, 2009

    You people who are bashing this idea have no clue what you are talking about when it comes to Calvary Church.I have been an active member since I was born. The pastors here are awesome and very accepting of everyone. Correct me if I’m wrong but doesn’t say in the bible reach every unsaved person anyway you can abiding by the lords way. So tell me how this is wrong in the Lords eyes? Can’t can you? Didn’t think so. So when you can tell me how this is wrong in Gods eyes or in the Christian way I might listen to you. Calvary Church has helped me in many trials in my life and I can promise you that that is what every member of this church can and will tell you. Me personally, well I have to say this a great idea and I believe it will bring alot of saved and unsaved people to a great church that they too will love as much as I do. Let me end this with I hope that the people that are critisizing this realize that your mouth is a powerful weapon and you hurt alot of people with your words. So due on to others as you wish to be done upon yourselfs. God Bless All Of You

  • Juli
    March 30, 2009

    I have been trying to get some of my non-believing friends to church for some time. I challenged them with What have you got to lose, I asked. They are unchurched and excited about being a part of this crazy thing. I know that the annointing and love and grace and mercy of Christ is everywhere but I also know that Jesus attends Calvary and they will meet Him when they come. Praise God for Pastor Ben and Pastor George who are willing to be as radical as the disciples. I mean, tearing a roof off to get to Jesus was a bit more radical than sitting in a box, don’t you think? By the way, the box is not suspended….it is mounted on the roof. Check it out this Sunday at Calvary Church. 161 and Walnut Hill. Services at 9:30am and 11:15am!!!!!Come and hear about Gracism, the art of inclusion. Blessings

  • Chris Chatterton
    March 30, 2009

    I write this opinion as both an online marketing professional and as a Calvary Church member. I have attended churches prior to Calvary and have yet to find a church so genuine. I have also been reading “Church Marketing Sucks” for several years.
    When I first found CMS I initially visited the site as I was shocked by the URL After visiting the site and reading the mission statement “The blog to frustrate, educate and motivate the church to communicate, with uncompromising clarity, the truth of Jesus Christ” I found that CMS was a resource and place where I could go to find relevant information about church marketing. I bring all this up as Joshua Cody seems to be condemning the idea of “Pastor in a Box” due to the fact “It communicates that you should go to whichever church will pull the biggest stunt, and it creates a pressure for one-upping other antics”. In my opinion this the pot calling the kettle black as this is the same type of stunt that has incorporated by using that URL. What is next
    Now, I can honestly say that when I first heard the “Pastor in a Box” goal … I thought it was funny since I was imagining Pastor Ben in Box on top of the church for 3 days, and then it hit me after talking with the Calvary Church Webmaster. Based on the number of visits they were receiving to the site it was going to go viral ( ) “Thanks Church Marketing Sucks!”. I have tons of clients that would pay 100’s of thousands of dollars for their campaigns (Outreaches) to go viral. Then when a church gets an outreach idea to drive visitors the so called experts “Josh Cody” condemns the idea.
    So if this not what you “Josh Cody and others” deem as an acceptable outreach event or to quote Josh ”doesn’t sit well with you” what do you recommend? We are waiting anxiously to hear what you would do if charged with coming up with the outreach idea. Would it be another cool youtube video? or wait, lets go to where all the believers are (cause that makes sense),, and then we can twitter about the cool video that we had the youth group edit.
    I know churches that never change their outreach programs, never implement new ideas, and complain about the same old tired results. At least Calvary isn’t a church that is sitting back and wondering what if or saying we can’t. They truly care about their congregation and genuinely want to spread the word. So Josh Cody here is my motto “It’s Better to Try and Fail Than to Have Never Tried At All”.
    See you at MinistryCOM!

  • Leland R. Caldwell
    March 30, 2009

    While many, if not most, Christians sit around and talk about winning souls to teh Lord, Calvary Church is doing it. Pastor George, Pastor Dailey (Box Boy) and the other staff at Calvary Church are reaching more lives for the cause of Christ than most churches around us. I know, I go there. I bring people that are being ministered to. Other Christians (or some claiming to be) talk about witnessing, but Calvary church staff put there actions where there mouths are. Instead of bashing supposedly for the cause of Christ as the author does here, it would be nice to bring people in for thecause of Christ. I HAVE HAD MORE NON CHURCH GOERS COMMITT TO COME TO THE TWO SERVICES IN A ROW OVER THIS MINISTRY IDEA THAN AT ANYTIME EVER BEFORE. You go Pastor Ben. We know when we are growing and reaching sould the devil aint gonna stand still. I have been expecting the attacks.

  • roger george
    March 30, 2009

    by the way – that was dill pickles and the sourness they bring!! ;} all of you that thought otherwise – stop it!!

  • the 4th D.S
    March 31, 2009

    Kudos to pastor Ben for thinking outside the box and coming up with new and creative ways to get people to church. I speak only from personal experience that this mans creativity is what first soften my heart to christians and to Jesus before I was saved. He caught my attention with creativity and a church of people like him connected with me and loved me all the way to the lord. If only one person is won to the kingdom by the box then it is worth it. Perhaps maybe some would feel like his time would be better spent blogging negative and hateful opinions about other christians creative ideas. Maybe we could catch the attentions of the unsaved this way too…….
    My guess is the Pastor in the Box is a more positive and affective approach.
    Benny D. you have nothing but support, love and prayers from your family in Cali. And as G.W. would say P.P.P and give all the glory to god.

  • Joshua
    March 31, 2009

    Thanks so much for everyone’s comments. It’s great to hear and see both sides of the story. Calvary folks, thanks for your input as well.
    I’m not trying to tear down or offend anyone, and I am very grateful that Calvary Church is being proactive about getting more people to hear the gospel. I’m also incredibly thankful for the life change some of you have been talking about.
    I’m still not 100% convinced that this is the best way to bring about sustained life change and move in a community. I’m a lot more sold on radical outreach programs, but at the foundation of that idea is just different ideas of church models. And it’s all right to have those differences.
    Let’s keep the conversation constructive and moving forward — this is a great start!

  • Los
    March 31, 2009


  • John (Human3rror)
    March 31, 2009


  • Fellow Believer
    March 31, 2009

    To me this is the new way of reaching out. People have been turned away from the old school stuff. It’s time for the new age. You know Jesus didn’t stick to doing things the original way it was done to reach out, so why should we? I believe God is smiling down at Pastor Ben and laughing, but hey, at least he’s sacrificing to motivate, what are you doing?

  • Wayne Cordova
    March 31, 2009

    How will he go potty?

  • Brad Ruggles
    March 31, 2009

    I’ve got to be careful what I say here. On the one hand I’ve done my fair share of “stunts” as a Youth Pastor. I even shaved my head into a mohawk once.
    But I think there’s a difference between the kind of stuff that reaches youth and the things we do in “big kids church.” I don’t think this is necessarily wrong, I just think it’s a little cheesy. If I read about that or heard that story on the news it wouldn’t make me want to go there.
    Just because we CAN doesn’t always mean we SHOULD.

  • Crystal Renaud
    March 31, 2009

    that could quite possibly be the most retarded thing i’ve ever read about a church doing. and i’ve seen some retarded things.
    i mean, does it really take a gimmick to get people into church? what will happen once they get there? what are they being offered other than being told their salvation and hope in Christ is only worth this?
    oh and i find it fitting that the “required” spam word below for me is “frustrate.” there’s very little more frustrating than to see something like this from a church.

  • Ben of BenandJacq
    March 31, 2009

    How many of the negative commenters here are (like me) so concerned with which method is “most effective” or “most biblical” that we (instead of stepping out and doing _something_) do NOTHING, and pat ourselves on the back for being better than this guy.
    We are so quick to shoot at our brothers, instead of being encouraged by their efforts and zeal to tell people about Jesus. There is a time to call out pastors, but only when those pastors are doing something that is clearly not biblical or sinful. And I’m not sure that’s the case here.

  • Art
    March 31, 2009

    “I’m still not 100% convinced that this is the best way to bring about sustained life change…”
    Of course it isn’t. Life change isn’t an event, it is a process that occurs over the span of a lifetime.
    The “pastor in a box” deal is a marketing tactic to try and get people into the church. Call it what it is. The hope, I’m certain, is that the event/tactic (pastor in a box) will lead to life change (people being converted and discipled).

  • Bobby Chandler
    March 31, 2009

    I’m not so sure this is a marketing stunt. If you take the web page at its word, he’s challenging his church members to a task. I didn’t read anything that said, “come see the silly pastor in the box.”
    Is it goofy? Yes. And if it were a blatant marketing strategy it would be a horrible…but I don’t think it is.
    What’s funny is, whether or not it was intended, his church is getting all kinds of attention from this. In a way, we’re doing allthe marketing for him.

  • Brandi
    March 31, 2009

    On the flip side of the coin, I see some people & pastors who attend churches that I know of who put on great light shows with loud rock music & bring in cutting edge musicians for big openers that have been criticized time & time again by people who think it’s all just a “show”…. & those church staff folks are now criticizing this church for a different kind of “show”.
    isn’t this just the same thing in a way? all of it is part of creating an attractive environment to bring people in. what attracts some might not attract others. whereas some people may never step foot in a huge church with loud music & flashy lights, they may come in to a church that’s pulling some goofy stunt like this. both types of churches are trying to create attractive environments, what’s so wrong with that?
    for the record.. im really not sure what i think about this. just wanted to vocalize my thoughts as i read through this comments & saw the criticism of some to put a different spin on things.
    i do know this though, i love what seems to be the heart behind each scenario. the flashy lights & the pastor in the box.

    March 31, 2009


  • Fellow Believer
    March 31, 2009

    Why can’t we have fun in church? Because everyone who criticizes this promotion is basically saying you can’t have fun in church. Why can’t we have technology (flashy lights, loud music, etc.)?
    Jesus stepped out and did everything out of the ordinary, why can’t we?
    What confuses me is that people put on their websites stuff like “Dirty Girls: the new porn addicts”, but questions Pastor Ben’s motives? That Dirty Girls is a gimmick just like is. I have no problem with everyone trying to reach their own style of people, because, I, just like Pastor Ben is trying to reach our style, THE LOST, and his way of doing this is to challenge the church God has entrusted him to lead.
    Even though there is a attendance line to cross, his motives and mindset is not attendance, it’s changed lives. I’ve listened to his sermons, I’ve met him personally, he is very sincere about reaching lost people. And the church he leads says it all. Because there are so many different types of people who attend this church. For instance, Americans, Latinos, Africans, Asians, Indians, Rockers, Punk Rockers, Rich/Poor, and Old/Young. Really for this church, the types of people, that list goes on and on.
    So stop putting him down and start backing your brother up.
    Keep it up Calvary, keep it up Pastor Ben, but most importantly, keep it up God (even though your people are being criticized for it).

  • London Pope
    March 31, 2009

    You know i’ve known Ben Dailey ah long time , and these comments about gimmicks and trickery are funny to me. The impact this brother has had on me has been life changing. “Keep doin wha cha doin Bennie D”

  • Juli
    March 31, 2009

    If more of us were on the streets right now, ministering to the lost and sharing the love of Jesus, we wouldn’t need this… Go share the Gospel and quit slamming a church that has a desire to do just that!

  • Dance Man
    March 31, 2009

    If Jesus walked on water then go Pastor Ben go. The bible refers to us as fishermen of men. And if you know anything about fishing then you know that different fish require different bait. What brought you to Christ in 1957 is not going to get the job done now. We have bigger problems than the Barbie Doll. Its harvest time please take the same energy that you are using to slam Calvary and go win some souls. God is using Pastor Ben not to just grow Calvary but to enlarge his kingdom. I love you all Calvary and I’m praying that God takes us to the next level.

  • Christian Girl
    March 31, 2009

    I love Calvary Church!

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