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Bar Church

Church in a bar? This is one way the Southern Hills church in Abilene, Texas has decided to reach its community. Van Conwell, a staff member at the church, said, “Some people have had bad experiences with churches and rather than expecting people to come to us, we felt the example of Jesus says, ‘let’s go to these people,’ and that’s what we wanted to do.”

People may disagree with the details involved in the method, but this church has the right motives. It is trying to live out the words Jesus spoke in Mark 2:17: “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” This means intentionally reaching people outside of the church.

In my book, I specifically wrote about what “calling sinners” would look like today:

If Jesus were on the earth today, how would he find people to dis­ciple? He would go to them! Since Jesus ate with tax collectors and sinners and befriended prostitutes, would it be a stretch to suggest that in our time he would go to places like bars and casinos? This may be a difficult concept to swallow, but considering that Jesus came to meet the needs of the sick, would it seem feasible that he would spend most of his time in churches? Likewise, we need to go and disciple people who have needs.

I applaud the efforts of this church!

What are some other ways we can reach people outside the “church walls?”

2 Comments Post a comment
  1. Paul Smith #

    Dr. Anderson, I address the “motive” issue here. Lost in all the conversation about “reaching the lost” is the reason we are called to reach out to a lost world. Obviously I disapprove of the “the end justifies the means” kind of thinking that this congregation is employing.

    Why, if these types of establishments existed during Jesus’ life, (and they most certainly did) did he not embrace them, and teach his disciples to embrace them? Jesus clearly met with and conversed with many types of individuals during his life – but he never placed himself in an intentionally compromising situation. How can we move people toward a life of holiness and sanctification if we teach them that their behavior is perfectly acceptable?

    Just my 2 cents worth of contribution to the conversation.

    March 8, 2013
    • Hi Paul,
      I appreciate your thoughts. You are right–the utilitarian, “ends justifies the means” approach does not always work.

      March 8, 2013

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