“For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon;’ the Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Look, a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ Yet wisdom is vindicated by her deeds.” Matthew 11:18-19
Odds are better than good that there are some of you who read about our pub theology ministry “Doubt on Tap” in the bulletin every week and you silently shake your head. “How in the world could the pastor think it’s a good idea to invite people to a bar? Doesn’t he know there’s alcohol there?” Indeed I do know that there is alcohol there, and I think its not only a good idea, but a necessary one.
First and foremost, if Jesus were here in the flesh, I believe that the bar is exactly is where he would be (a whole lot more than once a week for an hour or two). Jesus would be there, because that’s where the people are. People who are searching. People who are hurting. People who need to experience his grace (even if they would never admit to it).
Second, our society’s ability to hold a civil conversation is dying rapidly. The internet has given us a lot of good things, but it has also caused us to forget how to speak to people with whom we disagree. At Doubt on Tap, we have four rules: 1) We go for one hour. 2) Everyone talks. 3) Everyone has to respect each other. 4) There has to be a moderator.
Around that table every week are people from all different walks of life, different ages, races, genders, and sexual identities. And every week we manage to have conversations about things that matter without devolving to talking points or shouting matches. We all usually leave with something to think about, a new perspective on the issue to consider. And we all look forward to getting together again the next week.
The alcohol part, honestly, is a peripheral thing. No one gets drunk. Most drink water or soda, and several have dinner. We talk. We laugh. We engage the issues and we get to know the other person’s story. This is how we learn, how we change, how we grow. So take a leap of faith. Come out some Tuesday night for a great conversation, great food, and meet some interesting people. You will be surprised by the blessing you receive from people who might never set foot inside this church – and by the blessings that you can give.
Trying to be more like Jesus,