Drinking Beer.. for Jesus
I'm a witness to a culturally-Christian crime, committed by none other than, a pastor. This crime goes against the teaching of so many who have come before us and some may even gasp at the idea as you read this. The title may have given it away so it's not much of a mystery, but I witnessed a real life pastor of a real life church, drinking a real life alcohol filled beer at a real life bar. I know what you're thinking, "He ain't no Christian! He drank the Devil's juice!" But what if he just wanted to reach the unreached, church the unchurched, and in so doing, disciple the undiscipled.
My wife (Savannah) and I went to a Buffalo Wild Wings not long ago and had a couple of drinks with a gift card we were given. The server had a ring on her finger and Savannah asked her if she was married. The server said 'no, she had purchased it while on a mission trip in high school, but her boyfriend is the bartender.' I told her I am on staff at a church in the area and asked if she attends a church in Knoxville. She responded with the crowd pleasing answer of, "I sometimes attend a church in West Knox." I told her that's great, but I did not invite her to our church. She walked away to help another guest and Savannah and I just kept talking to one another about unrelated things. I thought the church conversation was over. Then, the server came back and asked the dream question for any disciple-maker...
"Does your church have like, small groups or anything like that? My boyfriend doesn't really like to go to church with me, but I was thinking maybe something like that would work for him?"
So, we exchanged phone numbers and a week later we were planning on having her and her boyfriend over for a meal and a few drinks. Then I realized that a pastor friend of mine's bar church night met that evening! So, in order to get over the awkwardness of having this random BDubs server and her boyfriend that we had never met in our home for dinner, I invited them to the bar. We had a few drinks, listened to good music and heard an informal sermon in which the pastor had a beer in his hand the entire time. We connected with the unchurched by going to where they felt comfortable. I know.. It's revolutionary. Then we had them over to our home for a game night a few days later. We have been able to engage a couple in the beginnings of a discipleship relationship. And we have yet to invite them to church. Instead, our next step is to simply hang out with them again, and invite them to meet our Life group (our little church).
This story is only the beginning of what could be a world-changing endeavor. What if this whole idea isn't so revolutionary after all? What if this is exactly the kind of ministry Jesus did? The exact kind of ministry that offended the Pharisees. What if drinking a beer with a non-Christian was not feeding into their worldly values, but rather the start of an intentional discipleship relationship?