Tuesday, September 22, 2009

What can Christians learn in a bar?

I've been reading a book by Benjamin Donley called "The Christian Manifesto? Confessions and Criticisms from a Revolutionary in Training." One of the 95 Manifestos is called Insider. I want to share parts of it with you.

Here is what I have noticed about life in the bar:
  • A lot of lonely people hang out in bars.
  • Most lonely people want to talk to someone.
  • A good bartender meets both the customers' need for drink and conversation. Good bartenders know their regulars by name, thus making them feel special. They remember some specifics about their regulars lives, pour them 'their' drink and let the lonely customers catch them up. If the patron is new, the bartender will slowly get to know them.
  • An excellent bartender will not only converse with their customers, but will link them up with the other 'lonlies' around the bar. Almost with a magical touch, excellent bartenders can include 3 to 5 to even 7 persons in a conversation and then step away as the group takes it from there and into a kind of friendship.
  • The lonely people at the bar become a kind of community--a sort of small group with the bartender as mediator. They are happy to see each other upon arrival. They share with each other about their struggles and as they drink, they often tell of some deep scars and flaws. It is like confession.
  • This community, as it loosens up with alcohol, usually is not careful about obeying the rules of personal space. Pats on the back, bear hugs, hook-ups and sometimes even fists to the face happen on a weekly basis depending on the patrons. Whatever form it takes, personal touch occurs more often than in the regular world.
  • Many of these lonely people leave the bar late after remaining for hours and they feel much less lonely. The have been loved in a strange sort of way. They have been listened to. They have even listened with care to another person who is like them in some way. They do feel good as a result of the alcohol, but also as a result of being acknowledged in a deeper way than they are used to. They have been with a group who knows them by name and who misses them when they are absent.
  • The bar sometimes does a better job pulling off the mission of the church than the church actually does.
People should be leaving the church every week
  • Spirit drunk--Under the influence of God's best brew and feeling the love, joy, and freedom that comes with it. AND
  • Cheers connected--Part of a community where everybody knows their name, knows their struggles, and cares about what they have to say.
Who passed Spiritual Prohibition Laws in the Sanctuary? When was the last time someone got a DUIJ on the way home from Sunday school? Is personal touch outlawed at church?

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