The Story of Rice Temple and Hooters

January 16, 2009 by

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.

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.
Read more posts by | Want to write for us?

19 Responses to “The Story of Rice Temple and Hooters”

  • Brice Bohrer
    January 16, 2009

    Great idea. I think we should do the same thing at our local strip club. I “promise” I will keep my head down.
    On this site, seemingly like most these days, if you shroud whatever you are doing in “well we are just loving people, they all need the Lord” you can pretty much do whatever you want.
    I mean the explicit TV shows need my viewership. If I don’t, they will go off the air, and what about those people? They need jobs, what kind of love would that show if Taxi Cab Confessions got cancelled.
    Seriously guys. Jesus loved everyone. I try to too.
    But even Jesus “ruined” someones livlihood and forced them to get new jobs by shutting down a business? At the temple. What about those poor soles, what kind of love was that.
    Wake up world.

     | Permalink
  • As much as I love your line “My church, and many others in my town, marketed itself as a church more concerned with keeping themselves safe than saving others,” I tend to lean toward Brice on this one.
    It’s great that church folk are reaching out to the Hooters crowd, but to actually use it as a site for bible studies seems a bit counter-productive. I can tell you that the constant boob assault is not going to help me with my bible study.

     | Permalink
  • Ted
    January 16, 2009

    I’ve had a similar conversation–
    “Heaven forbid we go into the bars and joints, witness to ‘those people’ and (GASP!) Bring them to church with us? Oh the horror! How DARE we bring ‘those people’ in– How can Jesus expect us to reach the rank, rotten sinners — we can’t DEFILE ourselves or our hollowed churches with such filth!
    It’s against our religion! Nobody can come near us unless they’re PERFECT. And no ‘Hooter Whore’ ain’t anywhere close.”
    Would Jesus stop at tossing tables if He had been in one of our churches? Probably take a bulldozer to the whole thing…

     | Permalink
  • Brice Bohrer
    January 16, 2009

    Ah, yet another who misses the whole point. Everyone needs Jesus. Witness to all of them. Murderers, whores, everyone. Great.
    The point is you don’t have to be pro-hooters, to love those who end up working there. It isn’t rocket science. Just cause you don’t want one in your backyard doesn’t mean you don’t love them.
    Would you be for or against and adult store/strip club going in next door to your house? Does that mean you don’t love those people?

     | Permalink
  • Tom
    January 18, 2009

    I always wondered if the men’s group would choose Hooters for their meetings – they chose Golden Corral instead.

     | Permalink
  • John
    January 18, 2009

    You have no idea how much I love those people.

     | Permalink
  • Stacy
    January 19, 2009

    Doesn’t Jay Bakker run his ministry from local bars? Say what you will about Jim and Tammy Fae, but Jay is awesome and I love his ministry.

     | Permalink
  • Lex
    January 19, 2009

    I’m with Brice on this one. Are we going to bend to every social pressure in the name of church marketing?
    “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.”
    What if the church leaders understood they were keeping the whole community safe by discouraging businesses who turn a profit by selling over-sexualized images of women?
    And I can probably guess what happened to those people: they got jobs at another restaurant in town. It’s not like Hooters is employing people and then sending them all over the country to work in their restaurants. The waitresses who would have worked at that Hooters were already in that town, and instead, they got jobs at a business that didn’t require them to wear demeaning outfits.
    Jesus loved people practically and where they were, but He didn’t let them stay there. To the woman caught in adultery, for example, He said, “Go and sin no more.”

     | Permalink
  • Travis
    January 19, 2009

    I’d be very nervous about sending men into Hooters even if they were sharing the gospel. Aren’t we supposed to flee from temptation. I’ve been in Hooters several times before and its very hard not to look.
    We talk about Jesus going into bars and talking to prostitutes but He was a man without sin. I don’t have the same confidence in myself that I can be put in those same situations and be sin free. I think men struggle enough with lust and pornography that we don’t need to find new temptations, no matter how pure our intentions.
    I do agree that those people need to be shown love too. Which is why I think it would be great to have a group of women minister to them.

     | Permalink
  • There’s a big difference between “going into bars and talking to prostitutes” and “getting drunk at a bar and hiring a prostitute.” Yes, Jesus is for all sinners. But Jesus does not call us to sin so we can better relate to these sinners.
    I have a hard time believing that any man can go to a Hooters for a bible study and not struggle with temptation at all.
    To back up Brice, the point is not should be only love the perfect. The friction is over the setting.

     | Permalink
  • Clint
    January 27, 2009

    The Bible study is for the employees. We do not have a Bible study where others come there to study the word of God. Some may want to retate their argument. We don’t actully market our church. We do no advertisements. We believe God sends who He desires to send

     | Permalink
  • Clint, Pastor at Rice Temple Baptist Church
    January 27, 2009

    You’ll have the story wrong.If you have ?’s please email me at or call me. If you talk about someone and share falsehoods about what they are doing, isn’t that gossip? If after getting the facts you still disagree, so be it. I am just trying as a Christian to serve.

     | Permalink
  • Cameron Horsburgh
    January 27, 2009

    It bothers me that a couple of people have talked about the waitresses at Hooters as ‘those people.’ The only ‘us’ here are ‘those people’ who have been saved by God’s grace.
    Many of the people I have worshipped with over the years have been ‘those people.’ If Christians hadn’t risked the sanctity of their comfortable churches to do what needed to be done they would still be ‘those people.’
    (On a side note, there’s a similar story to this one over at the Rubicon.

     | Permalink
  • Juliet
    January 28, 2009

    If the church is going to reach a world that is suspicious of them, I think we’re going to need to be very deliberate about stepping beyond what feels comfortable to us, and do what we’ve been asking people to do for years, without apology——telling them to come into our place, on our time, our agenda, our rules, our dresscode, our rules.
    Being in the world and not of it generally starts by leaving our holy huddles and caring about other people, where they’re at.

     | Permalink
  • tim
    January 31, 2009

    so what is the final verdict?
    Where do we draw the line?
    Do we asa church go to hooters to have a bible study/
    is this a testimony to jesus?
    is this an expression of his will/
    is this glorifying to him?
    is it right and wrong?
    what verse doIuse to support my argmument?
    and if i picka verse and you pick a vers which of us is taking the verse out of contecxt?

     | Permalink
  • Paul Clifford
    February 4, 2009

    I can’t go to Hooters even though I love their wings. I can’t go to strip clubs. I can go to bars. Notice I said “I”.
    I have a female friend that goes to strip clubs and has made friends with the girls. She’s got a lot of leadership and accountability to help her.
    BTW, for Biblical justification, read: Matthew 9:10-12, 11:19, Mark 2:15-17, Luke 5: 29-32, 7: 34, and all of Luke 15. Jesus never organizes a boycott of anything. He even takes the disciples to Caesarea Phillipi (a center of Baal, and greco-roman worship).
    Go where you’re called (as is varified by Godly leadership) regardless what other Christians tell you.

     | Permalink
  • D
    February 9, 2009

    It takes spiritual maturity to be able to go into a place where there is likely to be temptation for the purpose of witness, and to resist that temptation.
    Sadly, I think that too many of my brothers and sisters in Christ, who sit in judgment of those who are actually living out the Great Commission, have been in the Christian nursery too long. I think it’s about time that the church as a whole grew up, quite frankly. This sort of issue is just one of many that is symptomatic of this problem.

     | Permalink
  • Sheila Branscombe
    February 9, 2009

    D: I agree with you. Get off the sidelines as commentators and get into the game. Grow up so you’ll be mature enough to go into such places without fear, and with God with you.

     | Permalink
  • church evangelism ideas
    August 18, 2009

    I get the picture of a lone country church standing in the middle of buildings that are strip clubs, bars, and dark corners with drugs. Who is winning?
    It would be hard to tell… the point is however, the church is there.

     | Permalink

Evangelism & Outreach