Mixing beer and Bibles, missionaries fill the pubs
Outreach is occurring in some very unorthodox sanctuaries.
BY: Rob Kerby, Senior Editor
twentysomethings. But they haven’t come to drink, or to watch the flat screen TV. The draw is Revolution Ministries, a church service.”
Bakker tells his followers to read their Bibles, not just to believe what a pastor tells them. “It’s the greatest story never told,” he jokes.
“The bar stays open during the service,” reports Crowder, “and though the bartender is playing dominoes and taking phone calls, the worshippers don’t seem to notice. A few non-worshipping regular customers drink in respectful silence.
Attendee Christie Lee, a 29-year-old social worker, says the whole point is “being in the presence of the Lord.”
“The service’s popularity,” reports Crowder, “is an indicator of a growing trend in evangelical Christian worship: hipsters in bohemian fashions worshiping at clubs or bars, proudly breaking with their parents’ traditional practices.”
Pastor Bill Jenkins preaches at 9:30 a.m. every Sunday at the Loft Bar and Bistro in downtown San Jose, California. He told Brittany Smith at the Christian Post that he wants to create “a safe environment for a dangerous message.”
The British native preaches at a bar, he says, because 92 percent of the local population is unchurched and a majority have rejected traditional forms of church. But they will attend his, which bills itself as “a community of faith with no religious rites, rituals or man-made rules to trip you up.” His hour-long service doesn’t follow much of an order of worship, reports Smith. “It’s simple, with Jenkins preaching a short message and then breaking the 20 or so attendees into small groups to talk, and later return as a large group to discuss what they talked about.
“After the service, people stick around and have a drink at the bar. Jenkins said this is where the real ministry takes place. People want to talk about their faith and their doubts. He likens it to his experiences with local pubs back in England and says he wants to create an atmosphere like it in San Jose. The local pub is ‘the hub of the community, where people feel comfortable.’”
Jenkins is an ordained Baptist pastor who later was ordained at one of San Jose's conservative, locally autonomous Christian churches. He says he doesn’t want his congregation to become “another Christian country club.”
“Across the country, faith is becoming bar talk,” notes USA Today’s Moloney. “The trend combines the traditional religious charge to go where the people are with the reality that a lot of them are in bars.
“Organizers include those from mainline churches, those building churches and bar owners and brewers. Some are trying to push the model nationally, taking an ageless yearning for meaning and purpose to places where people often go to try to wash their worries away.
In Glenpool, Oklahoma, “It is good to bring the Word to wherever God is, and God is everywhere, and people are everywhere, too,” Joe Beene, owner of the Drunk Monkey Tavern told Moloney. Last year, Beene began live streaming Sunday morning services from nearby Tulsa’s Celebration Church into his bar. “The people who come in here on Sunday mornings are people who want to hear the Word but won’t go to church.”
He got his idea, he says, from Jenkins in San Jose.
“Beene says six to eight people regularly listen and accept his free Sunday brunch, and he is talking to other bar owners to see if they’ll stream the broadcast.
“I see a lot of people that come in here with issues, and they are trying to solve those issues or kill the pain with alcohol, which certainly works short term but not so much long term,” Beene told Moloney. “I feel they need to hear what I have been hearing in this church.”
“What is more important than where a church service is held is what message is being delivered?” asks Braun. “Are the people attending hearing the pure Gospel or a watered-down version? Is the entire Gospel of repentance, forgiveness of sins, and a call to pursue holiness and righteousness being taught?
“Or are we just telling people that Jesus accepts them right where they are at, with no need to repent and turn away from sin? What is preached is more important than where it is preached, in my opinion.
“When we seek compromise with secular culture, we lose, as our values are compromised. Reaching in to a culture that hates or ignores God is our calling as Christians, in hopes of reaching the lost. Finding the proper biblical balance of reaching out to the culture without compromising with it is the difficult challenge we face as the Body of Christ. Not an easy thing to do, but then Jesus never said it would be easy to follow Him.”