Tuesday, July 05, 2005

On the other hand

On the other hand, the neighborhood pub is a thriving, happening place. It is a block down the street from the church and the grocery. It has also been there as long as anyone can remember, under many different owners. It was one of the first properties purchased and transformed by the now massive McMennamin Brothers' empire. It does microbrewing on premesis, serves decent food, is fairly kid friendly, and closes early enough on weeknights not to annoy the neighbors too much.

So what gives? To at least one of my predecessors, the answer would be simple. Sin is popular. I've been told that one of our pastors in the 1940's came to us after serving a church in a rowdy lumbering town in eastern Oregon. He was fearless and uncompromising and used to stand outside the door of the (then) tavern and exhort its patrons to turn from the evils of drink and embrace the gospel. Perhaps this was effective in the short term, but it appears the drinkers are going to win in the end.

But really, alcohol aside, what happens in a night at the local pub for dozens of folks in this neighborhood that apparently doesn't happen for them in a Sunday morning at church? Is the fellowship more genuine? The acceptable topics of conversation less limited? Is the bartender a more adept pastoral counsellor than most pastors? Is it that, after a few beers, anyone is welcome to hold forth in grand sermonic fashion? That your kids can crawl under the table and play UNO and no one looks askance? Maybe.

BUT, will they pray for you when you're in trouble? Will they organize a casserole brigade when you're sick? Is there anything there that is truly trancendant? In fact, would the place even be there still if it had to be totally self-sufficient instead of being one part of the most successful microbrew/pub chain in the Northwest?

Lord, to whom could we go?
You have the words of eternal life . . .

5 comments:

PPB said...

These are some hard things you're ruminating over. I hope it gets better.

the reverend mommy said...

Maybe a tavern night out for some of your local theologians. A local UMC holds an alpha course (for new christians) in a tavern... it could work.

Besides Ben Franklin said it best:
"I know there is a God and that He love me because He invented beer."

Sue said...

another question that comes to mind: Where would you be more likely to find Jesus and his wacky band of disciples? In the church, or in the pub? hmmmmmm.....

thanks for checking in over at my blog!

Kathryn said...

mmnn....The "pub church" concept has caught the popular imagination here; looking at the quality of fellowship in too many of our churches, I'm afraid that I can easily see situations in which the love and care of the locals at the local would far outshine that of the Christian community...

Susan Rose, CSJP said...

Ahh.... life in the unchurched Northwest!

What about all the breakfast places that do a booming business on Sunday mornings as folks "break bread" with friends and neighbors?

Gotta love the McMenamins fries though :)