In 2002, Craig Gross and his wife, Jeanette, rented a booth at the country’s largest porn convention in Las Vegas in an effort to launch XXXChurch.com and offer light in a dark place. Since then, the Grosses’ ministry has expanded to porn shows throughout the country, hundreds of speaking engagements at churches, books, documentaries and an assortment of other projects that reach people around the world. Yet as 2009 begins, XXXChurch.com is returning to where it all began: Sin City.
“It makes perfect sense for who we’re trying to reach, the temptations that this city has to offer, and the call that we feel that God’s put in our lives to do this,” Craig Gross says of his plans to start a church on the infamous strip early this year. “Las Vegas is known as sin city and that’s where we need to be.” Gross and his family, along with a handful of other staff members from Fireproof Ministries, have already relocated to Las Vegas to establish a church in the epicenter of North American sex trafficking and prostitution.
“I think the church does a poor job overall when it comes to evangelism,” Gross says. “We get content with our members and then we spend time satisfying just our members and we lose that focus of Jesus [who] said, ‘I came for the sick, not the healthy.’” To that degree, Gross and his staff plan to set up a booth at every possible trade show—from auto industry to plumbing—in Las Vegas with the intent of veering attendees away from the city’s notorious temptations and instead toward a place of refuge located only steps away: The Strip Church.
“I know the world is watching,” Gross says to those wondering what keeps him from becoming another “moral maverick” who falls prey to the very temptation he rails against. “I know that people at these shows—people at churches—are waiting for me to fall, waiting for our team now, even [after] moving here. If I go down, what did I do for the last seven years? Why build something and then watch that come crashing down because it will. I didn’t move here to be closer to prostitutes and strip clubs—I can’t go there. … We didn’t move here to be Las Vegas, but we came here to change Las Vegas. If that’s one family at a time, it’s worth it.” [abcnews.com, 12/5/08]