The Epistle of Pitbulls: How God Used Dog Breeding To Save Souls In America’s Worst City.

 

In my twitter bio, you’ll find an interesting personal anecdote – I’m a “Ret. Dog Breeder.” I put the brakes on it earlier this year when my daughter was born, but for the past few years I’ve bred and sold dogs all across the country. Here’s the thing – I’m allergic to dogs. Yep, that’s right. When I’m in close proximity to a dog, the dander and proteins in the fur cause my eyes to run and chest to wheeze. It’s awful.

I wasn’t a fan of the runny noses and irritated throats, but I enjoyed using the hobby as a means of building relationships with people that didn’t know Jesus. After noticing the popularity of “American Bullies” in our neighborhood (see the picture below) a group of pastors from my church formed a kennel to reach the under-engaged demographic. As it turned out, we learned how God uses shared hobbies to excavate untouched evangelistic goldmine.

Maybe you’re looking to creatively reach your context, if so, here’s three ways to leverage shared hobbies for Christ’s glory.

Cultivate Commonality

Whether it’s a book club, running club, or volunteer opportunities, shared hobbies are easy ways to come in contact with people that you normally wouldn’t on a daily basis. Shared hobbies are relational bridges to strangers for the purpose of leading them to Christ and building lasting, enduring relationships. So, the first step is finding a hobby.

Do a Google search, ask your neighbors, but find something that’s relevant. It may be joining a fitness club, arts & crafts, or finding a place that others frequent. As a word of advice, be sure to choose something that fits within your budgetary restraints.

Commit To The Craft

Once you’ve decided on a shared hobby, commit to it! Learn as much about the new craft as possible so you’re able to become an authoritative, respected peer. Go hard! Budget money and time out of your schedule to do this on a weekly basis and read journal, articles, and blogs on the craft.

What we quickly learned in the dog breeding world was that you’ll gain the respect of your peers and build lasting relationship with them when they find out that you take the hobby seriously. So, show up to events, meet people, engage others online, and invite people to your home.

Communicate Christ

Once God provides you with the relational inlet, use the opportunity to share the hope you have in Christ. Our kennel, by God’s grace, is greatly respected in the nation. I often field calls from people from Maine to California who asked me for breeding advice or simply want to discuss current events. I became know as “The Pastor That Does Dogs,” and in many of these exchanges, I had many opportunities to share the faith.

While some rejected Christ, because I was respected by many of them, we remained friends and continued to dialogue. In fact, our church is filled with people we’ve met from breeding dogs. God opened up an incredible door to reach a demographic of people, and it’s been paying dividends in the kingdom.

Takeaway

I’ll pick up another time on the subject, but in the meantime, figure out creative ways to reach your context. Do your research and pray that God opens a door to reach people for his namesake!

Press on, brothers and sisters.

Grace and peace.

Ernest Cleo Grant, II

Ernest Cleo Grant, II (@ernestcleogrant) is the Lead Pastor of Epiphany Fellowship Church of Camden, a graduate of Reformed Seminary (D.C.), and is currently completing his Doctorate of Education from Stockton University. He and his wife Sarah have been married for almost a decade and have two children( Amaela and Chancellor). He's an avid reader, a community advocate, and has bylines in The Witness, Christianity Today, The Star-Ledger, Desiring God, and other publications

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