The Church as a Bar

churc it's a bar

I’ve been thinking a lot about beer and wine the last few days. The text for my teaching Sunday was John 2:1-11. You know, the “water to wine” story. So all week, I was studying with a Bible, commentaries, computer and a glass of Cabernet Sauvignon.

“Weddings and wine” reminds me of a letter Martin Luther wrote his wife in which he said, “I keep thinking what good wine and beer I have at home, as well as a beautiful wife…you would do well to send me over my whole cellar of wine and a bottle of thy beer.”

I keep thinking of the same things.

Martin Luther spent a lot of time at the Black Eagle Tavern where he spent many evenings after supper drinking rounds of bock beer and discussion heavy and light topics with his drinking pals.

For some reason, drinks and discussion go together.

Our church, The Venues, has followed Luther’s lead. One of our “venues” is a downtown bar on  Saturday night. On a weeknight, one of our men’s groups meets for study and discussion in a bar. Our Sunday venue is a normal church building but our values are bar-like.

Remember the theme-song from “Cheers”? Sometimes you want to go…

Where everybody knows your name. We want to be known.

And they’re always glad you came. We want to be wanted.

You wanna be where you can see, our troubles are all the same. We’re all struggling with something.

You wanna go where people know, people are all the same. All welcome. All valuable. All loved. All

We create space to listen to and learn from each other.

Christians don’t always listen well. We tell. But listen? Why should we listen when we have so much to say?

Christians don’t always learn well from others. We instruct others. Others learn from us. You have the questions, we have the answers. You have the problems, we have the solutions.

But to be bar-like is to value others opinions, critiques, insights into life and spirituality.

It is to listen to others.

It is to learn from others.

The truth is I don’t have it all figured out. I don’t have it all together.  My understanding of God, of life is continually in process. In fact, I’m a work in process.

You don’t have to drink a beer to be bar-like. Some don’t like beer. Some shouldn’t drink beer.

So have a root-beer.

But let’s be bar-like.

3 thoughts on “The Church as a Bar

  1. A church is also like a bar in that you can either be known by the other “regulars” or you can be anonymous… friendships can be made and lost in both places… the bartender and the pastor set the tone (in many, but not all respects)… wow… I never realized the plethora of similarities between a church and a bar… I think that the best similarity would be that you could say that both places are watering holes… you can either drown your sorrows in alcohol, or you can quench your thirsty soul in the fellowship and love of our Savior.

  2. Great read Philip, along with great sermon last week. However let us not to forget to celebrate with beer and wine when we are celebrating the life of a loved one…

  3. I really love this one…church doesn’t have to be a formal, ridged-backed ritual. It should be a casual place to meet new people and the one thing you’re looking forward to on the weekend!

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