The Bar Exam

by Kevin on August 5, 2010

A friend of mine asked some very serious questions in a recent article. He talked about how church today is all about growth and marketing. I could paraphrase for you, but I wouldn’t do it justice. Read on and see what he’s talking about.

What if there were a church in your community that did not have the name of the church anywhere on the building?  What if the only way you heard about the church was by someone who attended the church?  And not as a marketing tool, but because their life was better because of being in relationship with the other folks that attend.  What if this group of people showed up in the community without t-shirts, banners, or business cards and began to find creative solutions to others’ problems?  What if the community was intrigued by the generosity and kindness of a group of people and actually had to ask questions and search to discover their true identity?  What if the only name this group of people ever dropped was the name of Jesus and left people to wonder about the peculiar people that follow him? (Read Larry Westfall’s whole article here.)

Now I believe we are getting close to what church should be like. But there is a whole other side of this equation. Even Cowboy Churches have been criticized for “watering” down the Gospel, being irreverent to God’s Word and His Holy Temple, and blaspheming this or that with our style of worship. Some people have to have that cathedral church experience to feel like they are in church.

But does it have to be that way? Recently, there has been some media coverage about a Methodist Church that started holding a once a week service in a bar. Jukebox was playing in the background and people drinking beer and smoking. The pastor didn’t try to make everyone listen, but they just held a small church service on one side of the bar. Is this right or wrong?

Rev. Chris Heckemen of Country Rock Church in the Pub Lounge said, “Jesus never formed a church. He never built a building. We’re not trying to win people over to church culture. We want to minister to them where they are.”

I really believe that today’s view of what church should be like is all messed up. For a lot of Christians, church has just become the “Uppity Social Club”. It has become the new thing to brag about in the community.

On the other hand, you can’t have your cake and eat it to. No man can serve two masters. You either belong to Christ and all His glory or you belong to the world. You can’t try to force God into today’s culture and call it Christianity.

So I say, “Why not?” Why not start a bible study in a bar? You think the people are going to bars because of all the smoke in the air and the beer on ice? No. They are going there because they are lonely. They are searchin’ for someone that will hang out with them and so they can forget about all the problems and mistakes of their lives. These people don’t need the bar once a week on a Sunday morning. They need companionship and to be told that everything’s going to be ok everyday of the week. That’s why they are there.

What would happen if more people started ministering to these people? Show up every night at 10:00 pm and hold a thirty minute bible study where the Way, the Truth, and the Life were explained to the very people that needed it the most. You don’t have to agree or disagree with drinking to minister to someone.

Jesus ate with tax collectors and prostitutes and had Samaritan women get him a drink of water. When did the church become so holy that sinners have to walk through a set of doors on a building to hear the Word of God? And when did Christians become so holy that they can’t walk into a bar to tell others about Jesus?

What do you think?

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  • Greg Box

    That’s being “Real” keep up the awesome work that our Good Lord has called you to do! Great Stuff Cowboy!!

    All God’s Blessings For You And Your Family!!

    Greg Box
    Midland, TEXAS

    • Kevin

      Thanks Greg….always great to hear from other West Texas cowboys. Blessing’s right back at ya.

  • You are so right about people showing up at bars because they are lonely. People need connection. God designed us to be in relationship with one another and because of sin, those relationships are broken. It is only through the transforming power of God that we can see others differently.

    I found myself showing up in the bars to connect with other people. I was lonely, I was hurting, and I wanted someone to relate to that. For me, the drinking was a self-prescribed medication to drown my sorrows. Now I know that Jesus is the only answer.

    We as God’s people need to be more aware of those that are around us.

    • Kevin

      Most people assume that the bar is for alcohol and the opposite sex. I disagree with that. Just like you, they are searchin’ for something that is unfulfilled in their lives. They will continue searchin’ and experimentin’. Wouldn’t it be great if a church was there to fill that void instead of the bar scene.

      But that also goes for everything else. People will go to where they can find relationship and understanding. I think that the emphasis of growth in a church sometimes pushes those people to find other avenues for the relationships they are searchin’ for.

  • Hey, Keith
    I’d have to disagree with some about the “cowboy pastor” watering down the gospel or being irreverent. We’re accustomed to hearing the gospel presented in ways pertinent to a 1st century Hebrew or Greek or Roman populace. For those of us who’ve grown up being exposed to this style, it isn’t a problem, but for outsiders, it must all look pretty arcane. Modifying things so that a particular people group can grasp the underlying truth being presented in the scriptures is exactly what Jesus did, and the apostles after Him. After all, the letter brings death, while the words Jesus speaks to us are Spirit and life. I take that to mean that the underlying principle of the words — the living Word, if you will — is the important thing. God isn’t interested in us picking things apart and being legalistic. It is the spirit, the deep, true meaning underlying the words that matters.

    Dr. A. Nyland (The Source NT) translates hypocrites as “overly critical, hair-splitting, pedantic religious types.” She says that when the word hupokrites was originally translated hypocrite, it was an accurate translation, but the current understanding of the word hypocrite no longer translates the Greek adequately. It does mean a person who says one thing and does another, but that’s not the best, fullest meaning of the word. The hypocrites got hung up on legalistic, dead interpretation of the law, but Jesus said that the law and the prophets all depend (hang on, are suspended on) love. Love is the fulfillment of the law.

    Where I’m going with all this is to say that we tend to look on the surface while God looks at what is underneath. Jesus told His parables about things His listeners would understand. It’s the underlying meaning of the parable that’s important — not whether you use sheep or cattle. 😉

    Blessings, Bro!

    Cindy

    • Kevin

      Thanks Cindy for the greek lesson. I think you made it clearer than even my post did. I know that some Christians will attack any other Christian that don’t “do” things the way their own faith or belief does. With so many real enemies out there, it just floors me that they would expend the energy they could use in prayer and battling the real evils of this world.

      I had one such encounter not long ago. I can make a fool of myself some times, but I know that God uses the foolish things of the world to confound the wise. I don’t depend on that statement as an excuse, but as an encouragement when someone smarter and more theological attacks someone trying to spread the Word of God.

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  • Chad Armstrong

    Just like you told me several months ago kevin, when i told you about the problem i was facing with what church i was wanting to attend, and you told me ” chad go where you hear and feel the word of GOD and get some understanding out of it”, well how can ya go wrong there???

    GOD bless ya Kevin and keep up the great work….

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