Bibles and Booze: Congregations Across America Attempting to Attract New Members With Beer
By Heather Clark
The effort is an experiment in finding methods that will appeal to those who otherwise would not set foot in a church. Some beer-based gatherings are held right in the the church building, and others are hosted at the local pub.
One of the locations highlighted in the report is Fort Worth, Texas, where Church-in-a-pub, sponsored by “Pastor” Phil Heinze of Calvary Lutheran Church, is held each week at the local bar.
“I find the love, I find the support, I find the non-judgmental eyes when I come here,” attendee Leah Stanfield told the publication. “And I find friends that love God [and] love craft beer.”
Approximately 30-40 people meet for the weekly gathering, which includes Bible readings, fellowship and communion–all over pizza and beer at Zio Carlo pub.
The Regional Council of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America recently recognized Church-in-a-pub as a synodically authorized worshiping community. In 2014, another area “pastor” plans to expand the concept throughout the Dallas/Fort Worth area.
While Calvary Lutheran Church holds their gathering in a bar, the First Christian Church of Portland, Oregon hosts a monthly “beer and hymns” night at the church building, where congregants get together to sing hymns, talk and drink beer.
NPR tells the story of one transgender attendee who got up to speak at a recent event, announcing that he was raised in a church that told him that animals don’t have souls. However, because his dog had recently died, he wanted to sing a song that night in church in honor of his dog.
“I want to sing this song in defiance of that because Gunner was my friend,” he stated to those gathered as they sipped beer. “And he has emotions and a personality, and I had a relationship with him that’s as real as any relationship I had with any human being.”
The Wall Street Journal covered a similar story earlier this year in highlighting the new trend, introducing its readers to a Saturday night gathering held by Pastor Matt Bistayi, who started Valley Church in Allendale, Michigan.
“My name is Darin,” the music director announced to those present. “And I like me a 30-pack of Busch Light!”
The group, which holds to the motto, ”What Would Jesus Brew?” then began to applaud.
Read more: http://christiannews.net/2013/11/03/bibles-and-booze-congregations-across-america-attempting-to-attract-new-members-with-beer/