There is a growing trend among many in the Faith community who think there is something really positive and "evangelistic" about meeting in a local pub to drink beer and "study" the Bible! The trend has become so widely noticed that USA Today ran a page 3 story on it last week. To be sure, it has not gone without controversy.
Last year, well known Bible teacher Dr. John MacArthur laid into fellow Reformed Theology preachers for doing the same thing. These pastors are known as the YRR's - Young, Reformed and Restless. These young pastors, (whom I shall refrain from naming because their conduct and not them personally is the issue) are becoming as well known for their drinking beer in bars...some of them with tattoos and...some of them even cussing from the pulpit! John's advice to them was to "grow up, settle down and keep reforming"! Again, the Theology is not the issue but here is what the Bible would say to those nice young preachers “Likewise urge the young men to be sensible; in all things show yourself to be an example of good deeds, with purity in doctrine, dignified, sound in speech which is beyond reproach, so that the opponent will be put to shame, having nothing bad to say about us” (Titus 2:6-8).
But it is not just the YRR's - the new generation of Calvinists, who were rescued from most of the useless youth groups passing for youth ministry in America (games, fancy coffee, cell phones and occasional "missions" trips). These guys will be fine once they grow up to match the conservative theology they claim to follow. They made the right move to seek out transformative theology, while ditching the modern claptrap coming out of the apostate Emergent "church".
The USA Today story last week described a group meeting in "Uncle Charlie's Bar" in Cheyenne, Wyoming. They pointed out groups meeting in Tulsa, Oklahoma (at the Drunk Monkey Bar!!) where the owner is now streaming a church service to all the Sunday morning alcoholics. While that is a good thing in itself, there is more. Some of these Bible study groups have others from the Islamic and Judaic faiths in them, and atheists as well. One of these groups have the non-Christians share from their 'holy' book as well. Some of the quotes in this story, which is recommended as a good read, are instructive as to the way we do evangelism and discipleship. These kinds of meetings are going on right here in our own local capitol city. The bible study groups run ads in the free local weekly newspaper and have been profiled before locally.
NOTE: NONE OF THE GROUPS PROFILED BY USA TODAY ARE YRR's!
There is a huge difference between finding creative ways of reaching the lost and causing someone struggling with a drinking problem, to see a so-called Christian sipping Miller Genuine Draft who then tells this poor alcoholic that Jesus can heal him from his afflictions! This is why Paul again says in 1 Corinthians 8:13 "So if what I eat causes another believer to sin, I will never eat meat again as long as I live--for I don't want to cause another believer to stumble".
YRR's and the mainline protestant and other evangelical small groups meeting in taverns and pubs to study the Book of Job over beer and pretzels may think this is cute, but it is not. Jesus was accused of hanging out with drunks and prostitutes, but He never sinned at anytime or anyplace. He went down to where us sinners were to reach out and save the lost and hurting...and then He encouraged them to sin no more.
To me, this type of thing is a selfish act of "notice me", symptomatic of a culture where people like to create a good sounding thing and then appropriate the Name of God unto it. Why not meet in a Starbucks or some other high falutin' coffee shop? Starbucks is not a bible believing place and in fact promotes unBiblical values, yet I know a well known minister who has spoken to the hearts of more lost and hurting - ONE ON ONE - while sitting in Starbucks for a couple hours reading his Bible. He does this by talking to others, over coffee! I guarantee you this minister has led more people to Christ from sitting at Starbucks than some of these nice folks at the local watering hole with their NIV's.
Is the beef here by Dr MacArthur and others over booze? Yes and more! It is not just that we do not personally drink alcohol, but the Word of God, while allowing for such things, specifically warns believers not to do things to lead others astray (as we can see from the verses above). One last thing to ponder here: we will all be accountable one day before God for how we handled His Ministry.
Now, what if He pulls up the videotape of "believers" drinking beer with their Bibles...and then God, the Ultimate Video Producer, then shows a man (or woman) on a stool at the end of the Bar watching all of this. This person looks at the happy group of beer swilling, peanut-eating clean-cut Christians and says to himself "is that what they're all about....I guess I won't be going to church next week as I had planned". God's video tape then shows this person, after finishing off his fifth cocktail, getting into his car and starting it......
(image by google)