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Home > Issues > 2012 > Fall > Beer and a Bump

Two noteworthy developments in church services: new times and new locations.

Mid-week redux: The summer slump prompted the rebirth of Wednesday services in some congregations this year. Some mainline churches in New England and the Midwest shifted their Sunday worship services to mid-week to accommodate weekend getaways.

A New Hampshire church drew 50% more attenders. And Lutheran congregations in Minnesota and Iowa report Wednesday worship drew younger people—especially at Burr Oak-Hesper Fellowship, where the pastor lit a bonfire on the church's front lawn and served s'mores.

"It is becoming more common for churches to experiment with different times, days, and venues for worship gatherings," Elaine Heath, associate professor of evangelism at Perkins School of Theology at Southern Methodist University told USA Today.

Cheers: As for locations, the new hot spot is the local bar. The trend is popping up in several states.

"There really is not a focus on drinking," insists Rodger McDaniel, a Presbyterian minister who organized the weekly gathering at Uncle Charlie's in Cheyenne, Wyoming, more than a year ago. As many as 45 show up for Bible and a beer. "If I held this in my church, I don't think we would have five or six people."

Joe Beene of the Drunk Monkey Tavern live-streams services from Tulsa's Celebration Church into his bar. "The people who come in here on Sunday mornings want to hear the Word but won't go to church."

—adapted from USA Today

Consider these locations and topics for Bible studies:

  • The Zoo: Genesis
  • County Jail: Exodus
  • Butcher Shop: Leviticus
  • Courthouse: Judges
  • Burger King: Chronicles
  • Dairy Queen: Esther
  • Hard Rock Café: Psalms
  • Aquarium: Jonah
  • Doctor's office: Luke
  • Community Theater: Acts
  • Stadium: Romans
  • Synagogue: Hebrews
  • The Beach: Revelation

Leadership Math: A Self-Test

"Control is not leadership; management is not leadership; leadership is leadership. If you seek to lead, invest at least 50% of your time in leading yourself—your own purpose, ethics, principles, motivation, conduct. Invest at least 20% leading those with authority over you and 15% leading your peers."

—Dee Hock, founder and CEO emeritus, Visa

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From Issue:Ministry's Core, Fall 2012 | Posted: November 12, 2012

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Displaying 1–4 of 4 comments

Old School

November 24, 2012  6:43pm

I am a new subscriber to Leadership Journal. If this article is typical of the kind of leadership I can expect, I'll be asking for my money back. I realize I lean a little heavy on the conservative side, but I agree with Anonymous above, holding Bible studies in a bar is for the self-deceived. No doubt the clientele need it as would those in a house of prostitution or in a gay-rights parade. There are better places and times to address the needs of all of the above than to go into the darkness and participate with them. What ever happened to "be holy as I am holy" or the myriad of other teachings that teach us to be separate? Being a friend to sinners and being their drinking buddy are two different animals.

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November 22, 2012  4:44pm

I'm a 63 year old Christ follower who's happy for any opportunity to meet with God. A local pub hosts Theology on Tap, led by some Catholic deacons and a nun. The discussions are deep and I enjoy them. And, yeah, some of us drink beer there. Around three months ago I led one of my employees to Christ over a few beers. I asked him, "Are you sure it's not the beer?" "No, this is for real." "Time will tell," I replied. Time has told. He's going hard after God. He quit drinking and smoking. He's attending an Authentic Manhood class. Reading the Bible. Praying with his family. Everyone sees the change! So I say let people meet God and God meet people where they are. And don't try to manipulate that encounter one way or another. Just hang loose and let it happen.

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h l

November 20, 2012  2:36pm

My question to all of this would be, what kinds of changes do we see in the lives of those who are attending these services? Is the Word growing into their lives and affecting all that they do and say? Or is it just an easy to add a "church" veneer to their lifestyles? (Of course, we could and should ask the same question of any of us who are going to a nice little church building on the corner on Sunday mornings too!)

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November 17, 2012  4:13pm

Maybe we could meet at the local Bar...I bet we'd beat 45 by 50% at least! I've worked with alcoholics. Bars are THE WORST place to invite someone and to encourage those who go their regularly. Only CHRISTIANS think this is a great place to meet. Be good examples. You're like parents who want to "be friends" with their children. They don't NEED more friends...they need PARENTS! I encourage you to meet anyplace but places that pull people down. We can do better than that. A gym, or some of the ideas mentioned above. But, I'm sorry, A PRESBYTERIAN said it wasn't for the beer. Sorry I don't buy that. When I was in high school our choir performed in the Presbyterian church in our little hometown. At the reception afterward, with teens, families and teachers, the pastor come out of his office with a strong drink...and it wasn't a beer. Being a Pastor's daughter, that struck me as a very poor example. Let's do better than this.

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