In a way, it is good that church is the place where everybody knows your name, and they're always glad you came. But did you hear the one about the church that not only meets in a bar, but also partakes of the local brew? Read this. Here's their website. The church is called "The Journey" and beer drinking happens at a monthly program they call "Theology at the Bottleworks."
The article referenced above was in the Columbia Tribune last Sunday, and it says that "Theology at the Bottleworks is run by a wildly successful congregation of young St. Louisans called The Journey. The ... program is part of the church’s outreach ministry. And it works. Every month, dozens show up at the brewpub to drink beer and talk about issues ranging from racism in St. Louis to modern-art controversies to the debate about embryonic stem cell research."
It's all about keeping it real and relevant and taking the church out to where the people are. And apparently ... it got them in trouble from the Baptists. (I hope you read the whole story, it's great!) I guess The Journey is non-denominational, but they got a big loan from the Southern Baptists in Missouri to buy and renovate an old Catholic church building in St. Louis. At the time, the SBC was all stoked about this new and emerging church thing. Rev. Darrin Patrick (who did his seminary here in Kansas City, by the way) was praised and the model of ministry was lifted up as exemplary.
But then, they found out about the booze!
Now, they say things like, "Beer being served as part of a church presentation sends mixed messages to the community and causes confusion. Had we known about this before the loan was approved, I would have openly spoken out against a financial relationship being established."
So here we go:
Is this an example of the older status quo balking because younger people just do things differently?
Is this an example of a congregation compromising the church's doctrines in order to attract people and grow?
Is this an example of a congregation betraying the trust of a denomination by taking their money but not upholding their moral principles?
Is this an example of a congregation working in partnership with a denomination in urban ministry, but just using rather unique methods?
Do you have to drink beer in order to be relevant?
Do you have to not drink beer in order to be church?
I know a bunch of wonderful, Christian people who drink beer.
Is there a difference between drinking beer with a bunch of friends at your house and drinking beer at an official church function? If so, why?
Look, making your way in the world today takes everything you've got. Taking a break from all your troubles sure would help a lot. Sometimes you wanna go where everybody knows your name ... and have a beer or two with a good friend? Is that church?
update: click here, read the comments for Darrin Patrick's own take on the situation.