A Grapevine church’s attempt to promote its student ministry ran into trouble when three church members approached students as young as 11 and invited them to a back-to-school bash without their parents' permission.
“They’re luring children in under false pretenses,” mother Brandy Oliver said.
Oliver said on Monday the men approached her two daughters, ages 11 and 13, as they left Grapevine Middle School, claiming to be “with the school.”
She said the men were handing out popsicles just off school property and asked children for personal information.
"One of the gentlemen actually handed his phone to my older daughter, my 13-year-old, and had her put her Instagram information in first," she said.
Oliver, who was waiting in a nearby parking lot, confronted the men.
"They said they were with a nonprofit organization,” she said.
A flyer they handed the girls included the date, time and location of a “back to school bash” Wednesday night, but did not mention any church name.
Andy Boyd, a spokesman for Fellowship Church in Grapevine, said the men were working for the church's student ministry known as "the Mix."
“Every member of our Mix Ministry team is background checked, and in all community outreach with students we do not solicit personal information,” the church said in a written statement.
On Monday, the church said its student ministry team was near Grapevine Middle School to “simply hand out invitation to our Wednesday night student event.”
Boyd did not respond to a question about the mother’s claim that the men did not properly identify themselves and why the flyer did not mention the church.
Megan Overman, a spokeswoman for Grapevine-Colleyville Independent School District, said the incident was concerning to administrators but that the district has talked with church leaders and are hopeful there won’t be any more problems.
Overman said the district called police to report what happened and Oliver also filed a report.
Oliver said she was not satisfied with the church’s explanation and doesn’t think it’s appropriate for adults to talk to young children on their way home from school without their parents’ permission.
"This isn't about being a church or any kind of an organization,” she said. “It's about adults approaching minors for their personal information for any reason."
Grapevine police Sgt. Robert Eberling said officers filed a report on the incident but quickly determined no crime was committed.
The Fellowship Church made national news in January 2012 when Pastor Ed Young and his wife, Lisa, held a "sexperiment" in which they promoted healthy sex lives from a bed on the church's rooftop.
The two, who founded the church, also wrote a book called "Sexperiment: 7 Days to Lasting Intimacy with Your Spouse."