We’ve been doing church in a bar, buying a free drink for first timers. Here’s an unsolicited blog comment I received this week following our 2nd time doing The Upper Room. Check out ChurchAtTheLoft.com if you’d like to come join us on a Tuesday night. This post was written by an agnostic who came to The Upper Room with her husband who is a druid. She was replying to this post about flak I’ve received from Christians from doing church in a bar:
Often times I will read a blog post and its replies and see that my opinion has basically already been represented or I just don’t care enough to leave a comment and move on. This time however, I feel compelled to leave a comment because I truly believe that I have something to add to this conversation, that I have something different to offer… my opinion; the opinion of a non-Christian who attended last night’s service at The Loft.
I can see that there is controversy surrounding the whole idea of the Upper Room serving alcohol during a church service, but I think instead of people being judgmental about it they should be open-minded, give it some time to see how it plays out, and heck even attend a night at The Loft. I don’t even have to be religious to know that being judgmental isn’t very becoming, probably is a sin itself, and is most likely just stemming from fear of the unknown.
Serving alcohol and preaching about Jesus seems to be a very scary unknown to people, leaving too many “what if” scenarios to play on repeat in their heads. I can’t tell you whether or not any of those scary “what if” scenarios will ever come to fruition as a result of the Upper Room but what I can tell you, is what happened last night.
Last night my agnostic self and my druid husband attended a Christian service on a Tuesday night, drank a beer at the Loft, learned about Jesus and were comfortable doing so, and left saying that we could actually imagine ourselves going back and even hanging out with friends there. The fact that I just typed that sentence is a bit of a miracle and still a little shocking to me, as this is not very characteristic of either of us, but especially of my husband.
A couple weeks ago I was excited to read about how Crossroads was thinking outside of the box and would start using The Loft for The Upper Room, a church for people who don’t go to church, and that alcohol would be served and the service would be down played a bit and not be as “churchy.” I love supporting new and creative things in the Lansing Area so I knew I would find myself checking it out at some point, but I never imagined getting my husband to go with me. It’s not that he’s a bad person or that I am for that matter, it’s just that
we are both a little jaded by Christianity, don’t dig the stuffiness of traditional churches, and even the more modern and easy going churches are sometimes still a little too awkward feeling for us.
So yesterday I was reminded by Noah’s posting on Facebook that he would actually buy people their first drink when they came out to The Loft for The Upper Room and I knew my husband and I had some time to kill so I suggested that we go.
I’m not going to lie, the selling point for my husband was that not only could he drink a beer during the service, but the pastors would buy him one.
The oh so controversial alcohol is essentially what got both of us to the service. The idea of being able to have a beer during the service is inviting, intriguing, and automatically creates a relaxed feel and removes the fear of things being awkward (in my mind at least). Once we were there the service, the pastors, the music, the messages, and everything else that we experienced while we were there is what would make us go back, what would makes us think to invite other people, and what made me even think of attending a service on a Sunday in the actual church cross my mind.
The oh so controversial alcohol is essentially why we heard anything about Jesus on a Tuesday night at all, and it’s also what made me go to work to this morning and talk to my co-worker about Crossroads and The Upper Room, and invite her to attend a service at The Loft.
The evil alcohol that was served last night is what made me even more curious which lead to me reading a little more about The Upper Room including this blog, and is why I’m writing in response to this blog post.
I just have to say that I honestly think the whole idea is brilliant and that you should too.
I think that you as Christians should look at this as a great opportunity to be able to reach out to people you might not have been able to reach out to before, and tell them about Jesus.
So what if it’s over a beer, it’s happening! That conversation is happening, shouldn’t that be what is important to you?
Paul Urban says
Noah, and even though this is more specifically about the serving of alcohol, the issues that this new friend has shared are what so, so many people struggle with – it’s why even our church services (even more “modern, casual” services) still seem a little awkward. I understand all the issues that go with what you are doing, but I want to honor your team at Crossroads for caring enough about people to reach out in unorthodox ways. Keep sharing the hope and message of Jesus.
Thanks a lot Paul. Sorry for my long delay in responding, catching up on blog comments today after a long lapse. It is eye-opening to look at the church planting movement and realize that yes, doing church in a more relaxed, less traditional way definitely reaches a certain concentric circle of people that would’ve gone unreached, but there are many more concentric circles of people beyond what church plants and contemporary-style churches are able to reach, people who think what we are doing is just as awkward and out of touch as an other church. I think it’s important to keep the gospel central and then just try things. We don’t know what is going to work and what isn’t, but we ought to look for opportunities to show Christ’s love and then go to those places with the gospel. It’s not like tens of thousands of people in Lansing are flocking to our church event that serves them beer, but we have reached some, and that’s pretty awesome. It’s a good reminder that it’s not about “how edgy can you be?” or can you one-up the last creative idea, but it’s just about Jesus changing lives–about presenting Jesus and then praying that the Holy Spirit does miracles. It’s actually pretty humbling how much we don’t control when it comes to whether someone will receive Jesus or not.
As a Christian, the thought of people having a beer at church doesn’t scare me. The thought of people living a lifetime without a relationship with Jesus really does. And the thought of them spending eternity without Him scares me even more. I love that you’re meeting people right where they are. That is what Jesus did. He got a lot a flak about it too. Don’t let the haters bring you down. I’ll be praying.
Hi Noah, I encourage you to reach out to people in new and creative ways.
Recently I’ve spoken with 2 people who where turned off by church politics and even asked to leave churches over stupid reasons, i.e. working on Sunday and asking too many difficult questions. I know of a young Christian who mentioned having a beer during bible study and received so many hurtful comments that he left the church.
We teach “come as you are” but don’t live it.
sorry for my long delay in responding Sharon, getting caught up on blog comments today after a long lapse. Just wanted to say thank you for the encouragement!