Evangelism and erotic underwear are rarely linked outside the tabloid newspapers. But a new book backed by a Church of England bishop urges Christians to spread the message to their friends and neighbours by hosting lingerie parties.
The book, Open the Door, argues that in an age when more people know their zodiac signs than the Ten Commandments, Christians have to use unconventional methods to reverse the decline in churchgoing.
It says: “What a tragedy that we are surrounded daily with television programmes, art, film and even real-life stories sold to magazines and newspapers that champion casual sex and pornography, yet as Christians we often have so little to say about it.”
The book, produced by the charity Activate, which is primarily aimed at women, also recommends murder mystery evenings and “pamper” parties as ways to break the ice with non-churchgoers. Other opportunities to spread the faith include knitting groups and book clubs.
The Rev Jan Harney, a Church of England cleric in Manchester who also works for Activate, said that she wanted Christians to relax, have fun and to get to know people before trying to convert them.
“I have not conducted a lingerie party myself, but when Bridget Jones was all the rage I know that some Christian groups were holding knickers parties,” she said. “To be honest, I am not sure what happened at those. Nobody has told me.
“But I have held chocolate parties, at which a group of us might watch a film on the theme of chocolate, or make chocolate sweets or play chocolate-inspired games.
“I also like pamper parties, when we can enjoy a massage or a manicure or try beauty products. I will always end the party with a five-minute period of reflection, a sort of thought for the day. It is a way to get to know people who will never normally go near a church.”
The Bishop of Bolton, the Rt Rev David Gillett, said: “They are the modern version of the Tupperware party and they are a natural way for women to meet. They can lead to a discussion of themes such as Adam and Eve and relations between people and God.”
The bishop said that he was a devotee of the Big Brother television show because the issues that surfaced during the programme were often more real to ordinary people than those raised in church.