(disclaimer for clarity: “Haters gonna hate” is a tongue in cheek way of talking about people who give you criticism. It’s a somewhat popular figure of speech made much more popular by the recent Taylor Swift song “Shake it Off,” where Swift also uses it in what I think is a tongue and cheek fashion. I just want to be clear I don’t think anyone is actually hating me, or hating the Upper Room, or anything involving the real definition of the term “hate.” Also, I’ve wrestled a little in if I should have made these comments public or not. For clarity sake, all but the first one were comments posted publicly on The Upper Room’s Facebook page. I deleted them after posting them anonymously here. The first message was a private Facebook sent to me but was the one message that I felt had a real malicious intent behind it, so I felt it was appropriate to share 1. to expose this type of malicious talk and 2. because it’s so far out there I have to laugh at it. I hope this is helpful. Thank you for keeping me in check to those of you who asked about this blog post.)
We had a wonderful night at our first Upper Room this past Tuesday, seeing God at work in very exciting ways. The Upper Room is a new church venue we are doing at The Loft in Lansing every Tuesday night. The Loft is a nightclub that is only open when they have a concert. Our group of pastors are buying first time guests a drink and the bar is open like it is any other night. We are doing our best to reach people who don’t have a relationship with Jesus yet. The Lansing State Journal did a nice article about us that is running in Friday’s paper.
I get some special messages from Christians about having beer at church that I feel like needed to be shared. I don’t think they need any commentary as they are pretty engaging in and of themselves. For those actually concerned, please check out the “Biblical View of Alcohol” document I write about here. I share these because parts of them are humorous, but also to show the vast array of views out there when it comes to the Bible–plenty of which downright ignore text after text after text, as well as make up their own ideas and rules that the Bible never talks about. These posts actually are a pretty good argument for the reason we are doing church at a bar in the first place, to try to reach people who have been turned off by Christians. I put my favorite lines in bold. Without further adieu:
I’m sorry Noah, but getting drunk at church is inappropriate on so many levels. Maybe you wonder why God hasn’t grown your following over the last 10 years since I first met you.
People don’t get drunk you say? Whats the verse? Romans 14:13? I really do wish you the best in your endeavors but I firmly believe what your doing is spitting in the face of your faith.
If I’m mistaken in the many verses I could approach you with about this, please justify biblically how that is so.
it boils down to selflessness the unselfish thing to do would be to withhold from drinking because you might make someone stumble.
Using your own logic- One could promote bible lessons at Déjà Vu, and quote all the scriptures where God talks about how lovely women are, and how God created the woman. Then you could tell men that the sin is in lusting after women, not in appreciating God’s craftsmanship. So as long as men used enough self control to only admire, but not to lust, then they would not be sinning. Therefore, you could attempt to reach that whole unsaved population of people who are currently using women as sexual objects, but could soon learn that they can be appreciated and used in moderation, just to admire.
It is a slippery slope, and getting drunk is just as easy as having a lustful thought. If you wouldn’t promote strippers under the guise of biblical principles allowing it, why use alcohol to win souls?
you admit that a ministry in a strip club would not be good for a man?
Why? Because most would not be able to control their bodies and minds, and would end up sinning?
I believe the same will be true of your congregation at The The Upper Room. I believe that most will not have enough self control, and will end up drunk. And you will be the one who caused them to stumble.
a drink possibly being made too strong, or one drink too many and someone ends up drunk?
Consuming alcohol is not a science, but there is scientific research done about it. In that research it shows that many factors contribute to a person’s tolerance for alcohol. How much they have eaten, the type of meal, their body mass, their history of alcohol consumption, the quality and potency of the alcohol, and even moods can contribute to one getting drunk.
Yet, even if it happened accidentally, you promoted the drinking, may have even bought them a drink, and therefore would be responsible for them stumbling.
So I challenge you as a Christian- if that ever happens, and a new believer, one of the people who has given their life to Christ during your ministry- drinks too much accidentally and ends up drunk. I challenge you to do as the Bible says- and to never drink again so you will never cause another to stumble.
The Upper Room Grand Opening 11.11.14 from Lansing Crossroads Church on Vimeo.
Dave Van Stensel says
One of my favorite Bible versus is Mathew 22:36-40:
36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’[a] 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[b] 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
I’m reminded of many people who define themselves by what they don’t do. Don’t drink, don’t smoke, don’t play cards, don’t dance, don’t celebrate Halloween, don’t send their kids to public school. I’m fine with setting healthy boundaries but I’ve been guilt tripped about my actions and not in a way in which I feel Christ’s love and not for doing something the Bible is against.
When I read comments like the one above, I see someone who is mean spirited and passive aggressive. Especially the part about God not growing your following. Someone is shooting arrows at your heart. I think you are loving well. People can always find a verse to justify their hate. Haters gonna hate.
I do not think their comments were mean spirited (other than the first one). While I don’t agree with their comments or their perspective, I think they were made out of legitimate concern for Noah, and the upper room ministry…
Thanks Dave! And thanks for the great reminders!
Greetings from South Africa. I belong to an Anglican Church and in 30 years of being a member ( active born again) I have never seen anyone drink alcohol to excess at a church function. Beer or wine in moderation is acceptable in our church so long as there is an alternative for those who don’t want to drink alcohol. Jesus didn’t only engage with people in the temple, he met them where they were, I think your “Upper Room” ministry is a wonderful idea giving people who would otherwise never hear the gospel an opportunity to hear the Good News, isn’t that what it’s all about?
I visited your Church January 2013 and again this year in September, I was surprised by the growth in such a short time, be encouraged!
Rev. Z. Bartels says
This is a great non-Western perspective.
Also, churches that aren’t growing are always hiring new staff. Always.
Beyond the question of the morality of drinking alcohol which can get legalistic rather than life giving, it is refreshing to see that Christ can be present wherever his people meet. One of the frustrating aspects of going to ‘church’ is the lie that everything/everyone is okay, that you’re OK. . . as if pretense is preferable to brokenness. It would be refreshing to be with those who openly own their weakness so that others could hear how Christ meets you in your weakness and gives you strength on this journey. Church should be a place for seeing and knowing Christ and his power being present in weakness. Instead, it often devolves into talking about what we ought to be rather than showing the reality of Christ. Remember being at a church where the pastor got skewered for putting up a Christmas tree in the church by those who had no problem putting one in their homes. I think there’s more hope for an honest sinner than for a self righteous Christian. Good on you for following Christ into the pub.
Rev. Z. Bartels says
Haters gonna hate.
Why fundies no fun?
Roman Starr says
Much can be said about alcohol on both sides of the fence. People who I respect very much, from the well known across the nation to the local brother in Christ here in lansing differ on the issue of alcohol. Both sides make good and even compelling arguments. I am a recovering alcoholic, so my personal feelings toward the issue are slanted. But I digress, no flexin from me. When I look at scripture though, it seems like the conversation might be better had if it were centered more on if it is wise or unwise instead of right versus wrong.
Anyway, on to why I am commenting. I go to Trinity Church in lansing and we had a message in our series that touched on God putting us in situations and places where we have an opportunity to “pierce the darkness” as he put it, in order to advance the kingdom/gospel. He briefly mentioned the article in the paper. In keeping with the message about God sending the church into dark places to impact those who need the gospel, he said he thought that you guys may be on to something. That you get what it might look like to stop being so comfortable in our christian safety bubbles and start engaging and impacting the culture around us. So, for whatever it’s worth, shout out from a Trinity Church attender who is recovering from alcohol (5+ years) and knows all too well how sticky this topic can be amongst believers. I think you are stepping outside of the daily comfort zone many christians, including myself, are used to and attempting to reach people who might not otherwise be reached.
There are many nights I don’t remember from my drinking days. If someone would have come to the bar sharing the hope of Christ with me back then, I would like to think it could have made an impact on my life. Who knows, God is sovereign.
I pray for you and those involved to be a light in a dark corner of our town and that those involved in this ministry would walk with integrity, wisdom and display the sort of character that is genuine and of winsome manner by the power of the holy spirit.
As a member of Crossroads with a rather diverse background in both Bible and ministry, I fully support this outreach. Hang in there, Noah and all! I’m aware that some of those darts undoubtedly hit some tender places, but keep that sense of humor. For my part, I love being part of a fellowship of believers that emphasizes love and grace and not religion. On the religious side would be a campus ministry I knew that went into dorm rooms and criticized the occupants for drinking. On the love and grace side is, “Come, let us introduce you to Jesus, who loves you.” How can you know that? Because we love you in his name. He doesn’t judge you; he invites you to be part of his family. How can you know that? Because here we are inviting you to be part of his family/our family.” In his family we rejoice and enjoy ourselves as we seek to live wisely and lovingly. Sadly, there’s not much fun in religion.
Desiree Kofoed says
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?
I want to thank you for your reply – it is refreshing to read amongst all the controversy. I love your last remarks – “So what if it’s over beer, it’s happening!” That my dear is what it’s all about. Thank you again – awesome
thanks Mom! 🙂
David Marvin says
Make sure you never hold any sort of a religious service at Applebee’s, Bennigan’s, Cheddar’s, Chili’s, Red Lobster, most VFW halls, etc. You can order a beer there, too.
Jon Cuthbert (@cuth) says
“Consuming alcohol is not a science, but there is scientific research done about it. In that research it shows that many factors contribute to a person’s tolerance for alcohol. How much they have eaten, the type of meal, their body mass, their history of alcohol consumption, the quality and potency of the alcohol, and even moods can contribute to one getting drunk.”
Good thing we serve communion in tiny cups!
that comment about communion in tiny cups is pretty hilarious.