The Dagger Project

Hebrews 4:12 describes the Bible as sharper than any two-edged sword, in that it pierces the heart with its raw truthfulness, exposing our insides.  If we were to transpose this verse into a modern idiom, “dagger” might be the more appropriate metaphor.

The Dagger Project is a San Diego-based ministry that was founded by Jim Houliston in 2007 to reach those people who are the most unlikely to ever read the Bible or step foot inside a church.  Houliston and his team of volunteers spray-paint pocket-sized New Testaments with stenciled designs and distribute them in bars, tattoo parlors, skate shops, beaches, alleyways, and public schools.  All of the designs are inspired by New Testament verses and have a distinctly contemporary appeal.

The Dagger Project, "Numbered Hairs"

Jesus knows you as an individual—so well, in fact, that he knows how many hairs are on your head (Matthew 10:30).

The Dagger Project, "City Tears"

This Dagger illustrates Jesus crying for his lost firstborn, the Jewish nation. Matthew 23:37: "O Jerusalem ... how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing."

Sometimes the group dresses up as zombies, Groucho Marx, or ’80s rockers (with fog machine, strobe light, and boom box in tow) as a gimmicky way to tie themselves in to biblical themes, like “the living dead.”

The Dagger Project, "He Went in Secret"

Jesus' brothers tried to persuade him to perform showy acts before the pilgrim masses so that he might gain greater fame: "No one who wants to become a public figure acts in secret. ... Show yourself to the world" (John 7:4). But Jesus refused and instead attended the Feast of Tabernacles "not publicly, but in secret" (v. 10), because he knew that the Father's timing was not yet ripe.

The Dagger Project, "Rose from the Dead"

Entitled “Rose from the Dead,” this Dagger alludes to Jesus’ resurrection, and to the resurrection of those who claim him as their Lord (Matthew 27:52-53).


They also run free spray paint workshops, inviting locals to design their own Bibles, and create large-scale display pieces to be installed in various shops.  And their nighttime romps through the city often involve a series of “Up Chucks,” in which they throw a Dagger over a street fixture, attached to a fishing wire, with a sign that reads “Cut me down!”, or something of the like.

The Dagger ProjectIt’s so refreshing to read about outreach organizations like Jim’s—ones that come from a place of such passion and imagination.  Jim is ministering to the very culture that he himself grew up in and out of.  He still frequents the same old haunts that he did before he met Jesus, but this time, he brings a message of deliverance and renewal.  The church needs more of this sort of creativity so that we can share the transformative work of Christ in a way that resonates with people and reaches them where they’re at.

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2 Responses to The Dagger Project

  1. Joshua McManaway says:

    This is an interesting project. On a side note, I’m curious why you read Hebrews 4.12-13 as though it’s speaking about the Bible and not Christ. The next verse seems to indicate to me that this is Christological and not about Scripture.

    • I guess I was thinking about the “Word” having a twofold meaning: the written revelation of God (the Bible), and the revelation of God through Christ. But you’re right–I see that verse 13 uses the pronoun “he,” which makes Jesus a more likely candidate. In any case, I think it’s safe to say that the characteristics listed in verse 12 (living, powerful, sharp, penetrating) can apply to either “Word.” Thanks for keeping me in check, though. I hope to never quote Scripture out of context, or impose any false interpretations.

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