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Top 12 pastor stunts: Living as an atheist just the latest ministry gimmick

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Bishop Rudolph McKissick Jr. knew that lots of couples in his Jacksonville, Fla., congregation were living together without being married, just like couples who don’t go to church. But at a Sunday service last October, he got fed up with it and challenged the cohabitants in the audience to make a stand, to come up to the altar and to pledge to tie the knot the next month. Nine couples got up, and nine couples got married last November.

10. Walking New York with a cross

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Robert Wood walks the highways (literally) and byways of the New York region dressed in robes, wearing a beard and carrying a backpack and a huge wooden cross. His goal is to get people to convert to Christianity. "It’s been 22 years," he said in a 2012 interview. "I’m not stopping unless the Rapture comes and I die in the road."

11. Living the Bible, writing the book

Why should pastors have all the fun? Esquire editor A.J. Jacobs typed up 72 pages of every arcane rule he could find in the Bible and spent a year trying to follow them all. No to shaving his beard, but yes to stoning an adulterer — though he used pebbles so they wouldn’t hurt much. The result: a 2007 book, "The Year of Living Biblically: One Man’s Humble Quest to Follow the Bible as Literally as Possible." Then there was Christian blogger Rachel Held Evans’ effort to commit to "A Year of Biblical Womanhood" — the title of her 2012 book, which tracked the effort of this "liberated" woman to take all of the biblical injunctions regarding women literally.

12. Don’t try this at home

Then there are the professional stunt ministries, like Real Encounter or the Kingdom Stunters, an "action sports outreach ministry" — a motorcycle stunt team "with a desire to reach the lost for Jesus Christ." Founded in 2009, the team travels to church fairs around the country. One of the first and flashiest, however, is Georgia-based pastor and motorcyclist Aaron Ramsey, who was inspired by Evel Knievel. Ramsey runs the "Jumping for the King" ministry and jumps buses in church parking lots, sometimes through a wall of fire.

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