Pastor Zach Zehnder of The Cross Mount Dora Church wasn't exactly being serious when he made an offhand promise during a sermon to pay for church members' tattoos, but some of his congregation in Mount Dora, Fl., were quick to take him up on his offer.
As he preached about the importance of acceptance, Zehnder said, "If anybody would like to go out and get a tattoo of the logo of the cross that we have for this church we will find money and pay for that," according to Yahoo News.
FOX 35 reported that at least seven people have gotten tattoos of the church's logo, a simple cross surrounded by a green and blue swirl.
Zehnder explained in a blog post his reasoning behind moving forward with the church-sponsored ink. He addressed verses that forbid tattoos and hopes that the newly-tatted members will be able to conduct outreach in a more modern manner, especially among young people. He wrote:
These men and women will have an opportunity to tell the story of Jesus to people that I never would be able to. Two days after our story aired on CBS, a woman came to our church. This woman, by the way, has many tattoos. She hadn’t been to church in over 10 years. Her perception of the church was that it was judgmental, hypocritical, and unfriendly. Two members from the church had been asking her to come for over a year but nothing happened. After seeing the story of our church, she finally made her way through the doors of our church.
After the tattoo initiative began receiving media attention, an anonymous church donor came forward to pay for it, reports the Orlando Sentinel.
"It's a great way to show your faith," said realtor Holly Stratton, who got the logo tattooed on her shoulder. "It's also a great way to start a conversation about faith."