I live in a small, rural town of about 700 people. It has a few different businesses, including a bar. Over the last few weeks (probably months), I’ve talked about wanting to do some ministry there. While I don’t have all of the ‘How’ figured out, I know ‘Why’ I want to do ministry there. The problem is that I’m not so sure I’ve helped others clearly understand why. As a leader, clarity of purpose is critical. Doubly so when it’s an unconventional idea, like a Bible study in a bar.
So here are 3 reasons ‘why the bar?’:
It Remove the barriers – There are two buildings you can find in almost every town: a church and a bar. They come to represent two different populations, especially within small, rural towns. The bar folk don’t go to church, and the church folk don’t go to the bar. There isn’t any animosity between them. They just both kind of know their place. If people don’t fit in the church, they can fit in the bar. Quietly, a social gap forms between bar and church. Church folk feel out of place in the bar, and bar folk feel out of place in church. So quietly, an entire population of unchurched/highly ‘barred’ people grows two blocks away from the church.
When the church creates a presence in the bar, it shows that the social gap that separates the two buildings doesn’t actually exist. It shows the population of highly ‘barred’ that they are in the same community as the churched people.
It Shows Humility – There is a certain amount of irony to talking about displaying humility, but it’s true in this case. There are a lot of assumptions made on both sides of the social gap; “church folk are too high on their horse to come here”, “the community knows where the church is and when the services are, they can come whenever they want to.”
By going into the place that people assume church folk won’t go, you show that you truly care about all people, not just in word, but also in presence. It shows that the church is willing to go to people, and not just wait on them to show up.
It Models Christ – I think somewhere along the way we forget that Christ did things like this all the time. He was accused of being a drunkard and a glutton. He went to sinners parties and spent time with them. Sure, Christ preached in synagogues so people could more easily find Him, but He didn’t wait on everyone to find Him. He went to them, wherever they are.
My hope in ministry is to demonstrate to all that God love’s them, regardless where they are and what they are doing there. I want people to know that they don’t have to put on nice clothes and change who they are to start a relationship with Christ. I want people to understand the church loves them where they are, and there’s nothing they can do about it.