Man, that’s a provocative title if I ever wrote one. (And I’ve written more than a few.)
I was reading this article about how one preacher has taken his message into bars/clubs. On one level it makes perfect sense to me—Jesus hung out with drunkards and prostitutes and I’m a big fan of bars. But it made me consider how this really works.
It starts out like a bad joke: “This priest goes into a bar…”
I suspect if Jesus were in human form walking around today he would spend a good deal of time at places where people congregate. Regular people. People who are sometimes struggling or almost always struggling. That means bars, shopping malls, restaurants.
But I don’t know how much he would preach.
At least not with the same “3 points and a joke” Baptist template. Let me illustrate.
When Paul wanted to reach “pre-Christians” (that’s the politically correct current term), he went into the synagogue on the Sabbath and reasoned with them. Let that sink in…he went into the synagogue, got out the Torah and attempted to convince them Jesus was the Messiah.
The guy had some brass ones. I see why maybe they stoned him.
Would we attempt such a socially insensitive approach today? Certainly not. Heck, this week Jews for Jesus got maligned for simply telling Jews outside the synagogue they can be both Jewish and Christian.
We have accepted societal changes have brought changes in our methodology of evangelism. (Though we still haven’t figured out good ways to reach Jews.)
So, back to preaching.
How are people introduced to new ideas today? I mean, when you look at Joe and Josephine Six Pack, where do they find answers when they have questions?
One medium they turn to is television. Sure, there are sitcoms, but there are now tons of programs dealing with everything from archeology to space exploration. Many times these programs have significant implications from a Biblical viewpoint.
Another source of information for J & J is the internet. How can I cope with and help my teenager who’s struggling with a drug problem? How can I restore romance to my loveless marriage? What’s the cheapest local price on gas for my SUV?
Fiction is also a place people love to pursue answers. The Da Vinci Code was a run away fiction best seller worldwide. The movie, not so much.
The internet is wide open: Christians have barely begun to understand how ideas—meaningful ideas—are communicated via this medium. More than the forum at Athens, this is the place where ideas are exposed and debated.
The most important place we often go is to our friends. Real friends, people who have demonstrated over the long haul they care about us. We know they love us. We know they don’t have some hidden agenda.
Joe and his lovely bride are not likely to go see the latest lectures on the travels of Paul. Nascar is on. They may, however, invite you over to watch the race on their widescreen—and if you pitch in they’ll do the pay-per-view in car cam.
I wonder if we spent more time at the bar just talking, just being human, if we wouldn’t have more of an impact than preaching. I wonder if we participated in the world as humans and let others see we’re slightly different because of our love of Jesus, if we wouldn’t have to preach so much.
Maybe our witness is stronger when we are polite to a waitress who’s having a bad day than when we leave a tract with our 5% tip (after all, the fries were cold.)
Maybe having the Icthus on our heart will be a much better expression of faith than an ichthus on our car.