Detroit pastor's 'No pimpin' straight preachin'" billboard gets attention

A local pastor calls it advertising to get people in the pews and his billboard in one Detroit neighborhood is eye-catching.

But some say, it's going too far, but the pastor who put it along Grand River near the Southfield freeway is taking a shot at a Detroit reality show "Preachers of Detroit."

With a slogan like "No pimpin straight preachin'" you are bound to turn some heads, and that's what Pastor Spencer Ellis of the Citadel of Praise wants.

"Some churches don't believe in marketing," he said. "We do. But we believe in marketing the message more than the church. The traditional billboards have a pastor and his wife, 'Come and visit.' We want you talking, we want to stir up something within you." 

Ellis decided to go this route after hearing people talk about the preachers they see on reality shows. He says they give church leaders overall a bad name.

"Everybody just thinks preachers want your money and women and so we have a little fun with it," Ellis said. "And here at the Citadel of course we are not about any of that."

 One reality show in particular is 'Preachers of Detroit' which just finished airing it's first season on the Oxygen Network.

 One of the main preachers in the show, Bishop Charles Ellis, just happens to be his older brother.

"I haven't really had a conversation with him about the billboard," Spencer Ellis said. "But he knows me, everybody in their family has a different personality. He's more straight-forward and I'm more radical and a little wild."

He said the billboard is a way to set himself apart.

"The problem with the reality show, is you start it showing all the cars and the houses and all the luxury of the pastors," Spencer Ellis said. "Then when you get to the good stuff of the show and what it's all about, you already set a tone and a pattern of what the show is all about."

 He knows not everyone is going to be a fan of the advertising campaign, that includes another person on the show "Preachers of Detroit', Rev. David Bullock.

"It's very strange that any pastor in the city of Detroit would try to compare preachers to pimps," Bullock said. "There is no comparison."

"I am not targeting any particular preacher," Spencer Ellis said. "We're targeting the talk that is out there."

Bullock says Spencer Ellis is going about building his congregation the wrong way.

"I think that this particular pastor should thank God for 'Preachers of Detroit' for allowing it to elevate the city of Detroit in a national and international profile," Bullock said. "Instead of knocking it and hating on it.. Let's build on it."

But Ellis says he just wants people to come experience his church for themselves and if this gets in the the door, then he's doing something right.

"The message is you can trust the Citadel," Ellis said. "We mean business about the gospel of Jesus Christ and blessing our community."  

Ellis says his congregation is about 2,100 strong and  typically 50 and under, adding they appreciate a strong message that gets people talking.

He said most comments he's heard have been positive and that his marketing team of six people think of new ways to get people to check out what the church is about. 
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