Monday, January 14, 2008

Meeting Jesus in a Bar

Just a few weeks ago I went to a bachelor's party for a wedding I was in just recently. It wasn't anything too wild and crazy. Went to a hockey game, went to a sports bar and then to an Irish pub. I don't think the Scriptures "outlaw" alcohol (or obviously I wouldn't have gone). But I don't want to talk about what is the way of Jesus when it comes to alcohol...that is for a different day. I hadn't been to a bar since I had to go for my old sales job.

It was a sad night for me. Since my decision to get into Christian ministry, I have been around situations like this very rarely. I forgot how sad the bar scene can be. People lead lives that focus solely on the weekend to go out and get drunk. Of course they probably would look at someone like me and think that I am stupid for trying to live for God. They would say that it isn't a very fun life. Let me paint the scene. I saw one guy passed out on a chair, others working on trying to get this girl or that guy onto the dance floor. I'm not going to say it is wrong to go to bars or to drink beer...I mean look at this story...I was at a bar. What I am saying is that I was shocked about how far I've distanced myself from people like this. I do not run into people like this in my everyday life. My life has relatively zero impact on the life of a weekend partier.

So you're thinking..."okay, you were at a bar. So how could you think the bar scene is sad." I find it sad that there are so many people so disillusioned and yet they are largely untouched by Christians who can give hope. I've heard stories of church meetings in bars in Portland. I know some people who are relatively outraged about this. This is because they feel the church is then saying that what happens in bars is considered ok by the church. I don't agree with this statement, because as I think about my night out on the town, all I could see were people who would never walk into a traditional church setting.

How do we reach these people? Is showing up on Sunday and hoping they come to our church enough?


colorwheel said...

Oooo, hard topic. If someone is in a bar, just seeking companionship with other people, looking for someone to listen to their story, their life's issues, then yeah, they may have open ears to listen to your input. But, if people are borderline alcoholics, then you're dealing with more issues that just telling them the "good news". It comes down to some hard questions. How much do we REALLY want to get involved with those who have their "fellowship" there??...(where everybody knows their name)....Perhaps it could be a small guy's group that would feel a calling to go and just "care", whatever form that would take. (as with the prison ministries, not for everyone) Definitely it would need lots of prayer cover.
Just inviting these people to church seems like a mismatch in meeting a need. Where they're at in their lives, they most probably need a true friend. After establishing a caring relationship with someone, then you can share the important things in your life and have a trusting, listening ear.
Your sensitivity to those around you in that environment is commendable. Obviously, you have a heightened awareness to the spiritual condition of people's hearts.

GodSide said...

I think to Jesus earth would be a lot more like a bar and less like a church. Imagine what it must have been like for the Holy One to leave Heaven and come to earth...I think He must have felt a little out of place, much like Tyler in a bar.

mirandita said...

yeah that's hard. i know what you're saying, but the church still has a really long way to go before ministering to regular people like those who get drunk in bars. the church in general is so conservative and frankly, close minded, that even if they wanted to minister to these people, they wouldn't have the slightest clue how. i think the church doesn't know how to do a lot of things like this so they opt to do nothing instead.

chad said...

I actually believe that there are many in the church who are stepping out to minister to these people. There is even a church in little old Corvallis, OR that meets in a bar/club. It is a plant from Jefferson Baptist.

I don't think the problem is that the church (as a whole) doesn't know how to reach out people in these situations, but rather we struggle to convey the importance of this to our more established members.

We know how to minister... we just need to learn how to get everyone on board. Many Christians are scared of moving out of our comfort zones. We may use tradition, or "doctrine", or personal opinions as an excuse; but in the end we are just scared to interact with such "heathens".

Personally, I love bars!

Ross Gale said...

I've been meaning to talk to you about your alcoholic problem. :D

chad said...

Define 'problem'...

mirandita said...

While there may be some that are actively outreaching, I think the overwhelming majority of Christians aren't extremely motivated to outreach. Sure if it's easy or doesn't take up too much time, they'll consider it. If we have to ask multiple times for helpers in Children's Ministries, or cleaning crews, or power point people, and this is INSIDE the church walls, then how can we think they'd willingly go to stressful situations like a bar to minister? I'm trying to not sound pessimistic but realistic on who really WANTS to further the kingdom and offer the news of hope and salvation and who wants to say they do but not get up and actually DO.

With that said, Chad and Jessica, you guys are examples of Christians who put aside your own needs and actively outreach, stepping out of your comfort zone multiple times. That's an inspiration.

Stephen Barry said...


Man, this is a loaded issue. Or maybe it isn't. It's certainly a hotly debated one.

All I know is that Jesus found people where they were, and loved them without limit. He loved them without judgment.

You raise a great point. We can put together power-packed weekend church services with wonderful songs and a fantastic message, but if the majority of our neighbors and workmates aren't coming to church, it's not all that important.

Dan Kimball raises some similar questions in his book, "They Like Jesus But Not the Church." If our friends and those outside of the church aren't going to come looking for Jesus inside the doors of the church, I wonder how we can bring Jesus to them? How do we AUTHENTICALLY, LEGITIMATELY AND EFFECTIVELY be the hands and feet of Jesus?

I'm not sure I have answers. But thank you for getting my wheels spinning. This is something I get pretty fired up about, and I'm glad that there are others out there asking these questions.

Tyler said...

I guess the point that I struggle with is that how far is too far? It is important to go into people's worlds, but if we begin to not bring honor to God in the way we do it...then we have not done God honoring ministry.