Yes, really! A thousand times Yes!!!
I recently had an incredible opportunity to be part of a gathering of people worshiping and talking with the good folks from Pub Theology Indy (www.PubTheologyIndy.com). I have often felt that some of the best conversations about God, life, success and struggles happen when we let our guards down and just hang out in a local bar or coffee house! This visit proved that to be true once again.
When my wife and I arrived, we entered the room where the sound system was being set up and people were floating around entering conversations. I ordered a beer and my wife ordered a glass of wine as we sat down in anticipation of a great night. We were quickly able to meet the people of Pub and had some amazing conversations with them about life, calling and Jesus. Yes, you can worship and talk about Jesus in a bar over a beer! My feeling has always been that this kind of environment would be where we would find Jesus hanging out if He were back on earth in human form seeking to bring real people into a relationship with Him.
The mix of music was great and The Flying Toasters played a great worship set! The Pub Pastor (Daron) presented the gospel in an appealing way that drew people into a conversation and let them choose where to take what they heard about this man we love, Jesus! I must say that this was a refreshing gathering of people sold out for Jesus and meeting people where they would hang, not expecting them to come where we usually gather for our creature comforts!
This post is not about critiquing the “performance” or “presentation” of a Christian message by Pub, it is simply written as an example of one way to reach people with the gospel in an environment where trust and relationship can be built quickly with guards down. When Jesus left us the great commission (see Matthew 28:18-20) He said to go into the entire world and make disciples who will in turn make disciples. He didn’t say to go to your local synagogue to get fed or let the priest or pastor regurgitate the message for you while you sit comfortably in your seat with little or no intent to engage the world…He said to go out and build relationships with people where they are comfortable. Remember the Apostle Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 9:19-22:
19 For though I am free from all, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win more of them. 20 To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews. To those under the law I became as one under the law (though not being myself under the law) that I might win those under the law. 21 To those outside the law I became as one outside the law (not being outside the law of God but under the law of Christ) that I might win those outside the law. 22 To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some.
Paul’s words are a great reminder to us that Church must happen outside the walls of our local congregational outposts. Real conversations occur when we are not deceiving others (or ourselves) by acting like we have it all together, as if everyone is getting along great, and are enjoying a richly blessed life, etc, etc. By the way, a richly blessed life really does happen when we are being completely open and honest with God and doing life with others while dealing with our struggles head on! Many times we grow the most when life completely sucks and we feel there is nowhere to turn…we then enter a conversation with someone who begins walking alongside us, helping to navigate through the circumstances of the struggle, always pointing back to the Savior in the process. I have found that those conversations happen naturally over a meal, a beer or coffee when the defenses are down and the act of having it all together has been dropped. Pub Theology offers just that…an environment where you come as you are, enjoy some beer, some great music, and a real conversation with Jesus Christ in the center of it all! I will say it again; this is the kind of hangout that I feel Jesus would have wholeheartedly attended! I can envision the party Jesus attended with Matthew and his buddies being very similar to the Pub gatherings (see Matthew 9:9-13 and Luke 5:27-32)…and who were the only ones looking down on that gathering? The Pharisees – the self-righteous, religious people on the day! Unfortunately, there is still a lot of “pharisaical” thinking going on in judgment of these type outposts where followers of Jesus are heeding the words of Paul, and the life of Jesus, and reaching people where they hang out! From my experience with Pub, and the many conversations I have had in bars and coffee houses, Jesus is being preached, God is being honored and the Holy Spirit is moving in some incredible ways when movements like Pub Theology occur all over the world. Faith, Hope, Love and Beer…what a mantra to live by!