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Billboard has intended effect

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January 28, 2007

Lee County -- A new billboard in Lee County spurs much controversy, even offending some who pass by. Many people traveling on US 19 North have seen it, two pairs of feet between some bed sheets hanging off the edge of a bed. An internet web address is included, www.myemptysexlife.com.

For the many people who travel on US 19 toward Lee County, there's the billboard for all to see. From the looks of it, many say something explicit is being advertised.

"I think they're trying to entice young people to get involved with sex," said Joe Chandler.

Joe Chandler describes himself as an ex-military man with conservative Christian beliefs. His weekend vending table faces the big sign.

"I've never appreciated signs like that. I never have and I never will," said Chandler.

He thinks the website www.myemptysexlife.com is probably pornographic, but when we looked into it we found otherwise. The website actually leads you to the site of a local church.

That church is The Pointe, a movement based on the book "A Purpose-Driven Church." Lead pastor Bryan Gerstel says the billboard is advertising for a five-week series about sex, answering questions and unraveling myths about the subject.

"Our children are hearing about it on the streets. The world is talking about sex. God created sex, so I think it's about time we find out what God has to say about sex," said Pastor Bryan Gerstel.

The openness of the church is one reason Gerstel says The Pointe has grown so big. Within a year there are more than 600 people who come to one of three different services, but Gerstel knows it's not the church home for everyone.

Traditional church-goer Joe Chandler the billboard is an advertising for a church.  "Well if that's the advertising for a church I think it's kind of poor taste," said Chandler.

"They're not our target, they're not who we're trying to reach. We're trying to tell people about the love of God and the love of Jesus Christ, and sex is an area of our life where we need help," said Gerstel.

The Pointe plans to help others by talking about sex during church service, and outreach with the controversial billboard will continue, though some may not agree.

The Pointe church services are held Sunday mornings and evenings at the Education Center at the Parks at Chehaw.

The series Pure Sex is a nationwide campaign among purpose-driven churches. While the series is going on children in 5th grade and under are taken to a separate service.

Another billboard will go up off the Liberty Expressway.

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