I got a note the other day asking about what a bar ministry might look like. There are a couple ways that churches are doing successful bar ministries. Here are the two dominant models:
- A church buys a bar and operates it as one of its outreach ministries. These bars are far from preachy and tend to operate at a profit (good for the church, good for the kingdom). Typically, the bartenders and help are church members (often volunteers) who build relationships with the customers. There are variations on this theme – some churches have actually started as bars and then become a worshipping community from there. An example of the latter is Luther’s Table in Renton, Washington.
- The pastor typically parks him or herself at a specific bar at least once a week for several hours (like 4 hours). They come on the same day at the same time to build consistency and familiarity with the staff and the regulars. During their time there, they may engage in any number of activities. Some just mingle with customers and build relationships with the end goal of having significant spiritual conversations. Bill Easum practiced this at the Fractured Fox Bar on Friday nights for years. Some initiate a book or Bible study. I engaged in this practice when starting a church in the Seattle area. Here’s one note, though: if the Bible study is frequented by a bunch of church members, the impact of the bar ministry plummets.
Question: Do you know of any other bar ministries or bar ministry models? Share your thoughts and experiences in the Comments section below.
Bill- when I was starting a new church we did a servant evangelism project where we gave out free match books at the bars in our mission field that were imprinted with our church info (name, service time, website, etc.) and said “God loves smokers and so do we, if we can be of any assistance please let us know!”
THANK YOU for NOT writing: “Will you be spending your eternity in the Smoking or the Non-Smoking section?”
We live in a small ski town in Colorado. For years, I have worked in the service industry and served part-time at a local church. Our leadership team wants to think outside the box. They are open to a beer and Bible ministry. Besides showing up, how do we begin to look at the word in a non-threatening manner? I have relationships with many of these people in the industry, but they do not see a need for Christ.
I recommend getting a copy of Garry Poole’s book Seeker Small Groups. You’ll have to do some adapting, but the Bible study method is about the best I’ve ever seen.