Making New Friends: Books That Command Attention

My friend Richard Agozino developed a unique approach to discipling total strangers. It worked well, but I think we’re learning to do it better.

In 1971 we planted the first Hope Chapel. In 1972 Richard Agozino launched the first church plant from our congregation. He was a freelance pastor leading a microchurch that grew to 500 people and planted 4 others. The church is strong after all these years.

As a business owner and freelance pastor, his time was his own. He would sit at a coffee shop in Palos Verdes, CA with a huge black Bible on the table. He used the time to prepare sermons and actually studied from a smaller bible and other books. The big one was a prop—a conversation starter. Whenever someone would ask, “Is that a Bible?” Rich would begin a friendship. The first person evangelized was an elderly gay man. Their relationship was reciprocal in that the man taught Rich about everything from investments to communication while Rich brought the gospel. The takeaway was how he used the oversize Bible to attract attention.

Years later I met a man who parks himself in Starbucks, reading his Kindle, with “Why Men Hate Going to Church” prominently displayed on the table. Same song second verse—this guy, like Rich Agozino, uses the book as a conversation starter.

A Different Twist

I’m about to try a twist on this tactic. I just searched Amazon for books that prominently display the words “gay” and “Christian” on the covers. My plan is to spend Tuesday mornings at a coffee shop in a prominent LGBT neighborhood in San Diego making friends. I figure each book is good for about three weeks. I could use prayers for this venture. My plan is to plant a microchurch in this underevangelized community. I’m employed part-time so I’ll qualify as a freelance pastor with the freedom to plant a church by making disciples. The lack of financial pressure means I won’t need to assemble disaffected Christians just to make budget.

Hoping and praying for fruit. I’d appreciate your prayers along the way. I’ll post updates from time to time.

COMMENTS: Have you any experience with ministry in the LGBT community? Anybody try the book thing? I’d like to hear more as I’m trying to learn my way into this… Please comment below!



4 thoughts on “Making New Friends: Books That Command Attention”

  1. Is this the same Richard Agozino that started a church at the shuffle board court at Torrance park? If so I remember him dearly.

  2. This is an older blog, so I’m not sure if this comment will be seen, but I’m wondering how the campaign worked out. I’m the younger brother of a gay man, and a father of a trans son, so I’ve got lots of experience here. It can be difficult, but with a focus on Christ and his Love, all things are possible.-even for a lone hetero dude in my family!

    1. Things are slow, as you would imagine. Love is the key. No judgements seem appropriate. I’ve long learned to leave all “policing” to the Holy Spirit. I never told anyone using drugs, etc. to stop. I just showed them Jesus and He did whatever else was necessary. Some might see this as “compromising with the world,” I believe it to be trusting the Spirit to convict and convince. However, things in this particular community still move slowly because of the great gulf that has occurred between Christ-followers and those working through these issues. Thanks for asking and you have my prayers!

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