I've been a little remiss about posting this blog, not because I'm afraid of the subject matter but because until now I haven't been able to accurately explain my stance.
In case you've been out of the loop on this, in Missouri (and only, as far as I'm aware) there's a movement in churches to reach out in previously unconsidered or poo-pooed methods. It's known as the Emergent Church Movement.
A local church here has taken it upon themselves to have Bible studies at a nearby bar. This wouldn't make anyone bat an eyelash but for the fact that this church claims to be a reformed southern baptist church--not quite the kind of people you'd expect to see in a bar, much less conducting a Bible study in one.
On the MO Baptist Yahoo group, there's been a huge debate about whether it's biblical to drink. There are plenty of verses that can be spun either way but it comes down to the concept of: Does it say it's ok or not? The answer is: Neither. If neither is true then it's a moot point but now the two sides of the coin are: If it's not right or wrong, then why do it... and, If it's not right or wrong then why NOT do it?
Obviously this topic is causing a lot of debate and unnecessary fighting amongst people that were really close before. A church recently split up over this. So here's my take on it...
The drinking isn't what we should be focusing on. The problem is not that some Christians might drink and some might not, the problem is: Should this church be toeing the line on where they conduct their studies? Should they be using this bar as a guise of "fitting in" with nonbelievers? Shouldn't they be doing more to set themselves apart from the rest of the world--not in some prideful, snooty way, but in a holy way, where their actions belie a different root cause?
There's something extremely reckless about choosing to have a bible study at a bar when they know full well that it's going to get out and people are going to find out about it. Why do something that's going to knowingly cause a division? Why not just preach the Gospel when people are out of the bar the rest of the time? They aren't going to stay in there forever--they have jobs and families and friends to keep up on. Make relationships and tell them. Doing it in a bar just appears "cutting edge" and increases the risk of seeding your church with nothing but weeds that are more concerned about excitement than education.
This thing is just another fad to build a church quickly. Building a church is Jesus' job, not ours--our only job is to teach the congregation (pastor) and spread the Gospel (congregation). Anything else that tries to appeal to peoples' emotions or sensibilities takes the power of God's Word out of the equation. It becomes more a function of the messenger's ingenuity rather than the dull thud of the truth in scripture. There's immense power in a message when--knowing that peoples' true nature is to hate the things of God--people turn toward Him when they hear that none of us are able to impress God, or be holy in His sight by anything other than Him reaching down and choosing us for His good purpose. That really takes the wind out of your sails.
I guess the thing that upsets me most is that once again the true Message is being obfuscated in the name of "reaching out" much in the same fashion that wine was diluted with water to make it less offensive. Done correctly, the Message is going to make some people mad. I hate seeing people trying to pad the truth and make it easy to swallow. It's not meant to be, and anybody who buys into it is getting gipped, quite possibly their soul is being damned by being wrapped up in farcical teachings, with a thin stubborn shell so there's no chocolate mess.
The Gospel is a sledgehammer, not a scalpel. Believe it. Don't be afraid to get greasy doing God's work.