Can the Church Be More Like the Neighborhood Bar?


Over the years I have heard various people who used to be in the bar scene before becoming Christ-followers say they would never go back to a life apart from Christ, but that they do miss the community they experienced with their drinking buddies.  Consider these words:

The neighborhood bar is possibly the best counterfeit there is to the fellowship Christ wants to give his church.  It’s an imitation, dispensing liquor instead of grace, escape rather than reality, but it is permissive, accepting, and inclusive fellowship.  It is unshockable.  It is democratic. You can tell people secrets and they usually don’t tell others or even want to.  The bar flourishes not because most people are alcoholics, but because god has put into the human heart the desire to know and be known, to love and be loved, and so many seek a counterfeit at the price of a few beers.

With all my heart I believe that Christ wants his church to be… a fellowship where people can come in and say, “I’m sunk!  I’m beat!”  “I’ve had it!” (Bruce Larson and Keith Miller quoted in David: A Man of Passion and Destiny, Swindoll, p. 80)

What do you think?  How does it happen?  How does the church become that type of fellowship?

16 Responses to “Can the Church Be More Like the Neighborhood Bar?”

  • johnh Says:

    I would like to hear some thoughts on this……

  • Jenn Says:

    I heard a song the other day that made me think about this post. It’s called It Ain’t Pretty, by Clay Walker. The chorus goes something like this:
    “It ain’t pretty, but it’s beautiful.
    Life ain’t perfect, but it’s wonderful
    We’re all broken, but we’re loveable
    It ain’t pretty, but it’s beautiful”
    Though I still have a number of years before I am either legal or interested in the bar scene, the lines to that song made me think about what I want most in a church family. If I were to make a perfect family, a perfect refuge, that’s what I would want it to be. Not pretty, but beautiful in every way. not perfect, but just what everyone needs in their lives. Completely broken, but loved all the same. That’s what Christ did for all of us, anyway.

  • skb Says:

    a few years ago, after we moved into the Berthoud building but before 5 stones was built, my wife and I wondered the same thing.

    We wondered why there couldn’t be a venue that was open many, if not all, hours of the day that included coffee or juice drinks, videos playing past sermons or worship, a library, inspirational art, etc. Such places like this exist for youth around some of our towns and cities, but not necessarily for the adults.

    The draw of a bar seems to be, as you state above, the unconditional acceptance and social interaction. Additionally, going to the bar is not a prescribed “event” like sunday worship and teaching.
    The physical stuff I mentioned provides something to do, but the draw of a 24 hour church venue would have to be the people and lack of structured events.

    There have been many times when I wanted to or needed to talk or hang out with Christian brothers and sisters, or surround myself in a Godly environment at times that were not prescribed service times. If a place like this existed, I would have run there. It doesn’t and I don’t do the bar scene, so unresolved issues were left undealt with and squashed down. Often, all that was needed was a kind word, or exhortation that a brother or sister could have provided.

    A drawback of the bar scene is that time spent there was often time taken away from family, work or God. Can we create a place that will draw singles, families, male, female, include God, and be staffed many or all hours of the day?

    Such place could be used for small group meetings, outreach, and provide a place to go for those who need to connect with others outside of Sunday morning.

    Would I volunteer at such place? probably. Would I drop by and hang out? yes, both alone and with my family.

    Can this be done? Not by our will or through our power. We must pray audaciously and listen for His answer. Only through Him can we breakdown our busy lives and social flawes to make church more like the neighborhood bar.

    I wonder, with the advent of new technology, can an “online” christian social venue be created? Perhaps in a virtual universe like Second Life, a yahoo group, or other teamroom? Staffing it would be easier, building costs would certainly be a lot lower, and hanging out online doesn’t take one as far away from family and life as a physicla venue does.
    hmmm …

  • Nikola Says:

    Suipsirrngly well-written and informative for a free online article.

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