Thursday, April 17, 2008

I love this bar (Church??)

Many years ago (over 42) when I worked in Minneapolis in a steel fabrication plant as a welder for Steiner Mfg I often stopped into a little 3.2 bar for a burger and a beer.
It was a common hangout for those who worked there.  It was usually well populated.  I got to know many who were there.
What was interesting was Mr. Steiner used to stop in for a beer or two.  He never socialized with us guys.   He would just stand at the bar and quaff his brew.
That's not so unusual but I always felt that if someone, like me perhaps would have invited him to come sit down and shoot the breeze with the rest of us he would have welcomed the invitation.  But none of us ever did.  And he never did.  He just came in, drank his beer and left.
I never forgot that.  It seemed so sad.  So empty.  So futile.
He could have gone anywhere.  He owned the factory.  He could have gone and hobnobbed with the big shots over a martini.  But he wanted to fit in and we never invited him.
Fast forward 43 years.  Today I was with two guys, late 40s and late 50s who helped me load a truck.  We had a lot of chance to talk.  We talked about a lot.  They liked Rock and Roll and talked of days of yore when they played in a band.
After we loaded the truck we went to Jimmy Johns for a sandwich.  I bought.  During lunch we talked more of playing in a band.  I mentioned that I played in a band years ago and now play in Church.   Then I shared my love of Jesus as I am prone to do.  They knew me by then.  They were not taken aback.  They knew I was real.  They talked of days when they went to church and loved it.  They loved the songs. How they cried when they heard how Jesus suffered.
When I urged them to start looking for  a good church they were both convinced no church in America would accept them. One was a biker.  Hells angel type.  Dirty.  Hairy.  Tattooed.  Not elegant.  Needs Jesus.  Convinced he couldn't be accepted. 
He mentioned some things at the bar where he "Usually hangs out".  The Bar accepted him as he was.  Knew his name. Didn't hassle him.  Loved him in a bar kinda way.
The other older fellow was more tender.  He talked of how he tries to help the poor.  How he often misses church but because he has been a drunk, in jail and is now not very well (Diabetes) that church no longer is an option. 

His parents died young.  His brother just died.  He knows the clock is ticking.  He wants to get settled spiritually but he doesn't know how to get there.
I was grieved.  I shared that is was possible. But he was suffering from wounds only a church can inflict.  What he really wants is a church that is like a bar.  Walk in, everyone accepts you and you are one of the guys.
I guess the churches he has frequented aren't that type.  When I left them I know they wanted to hug me.  We didn't.  Not yet.  I had shared my heart with them.  They received it. 
I wish for just one second that the church was as accepting as the local tavern.  I love the Church, I keep trying to create an accepting encouraging atmosphere.  I don't know what else to do.
Serve hard liquor.  A beer and a shot for Communion?  I don't know.
What I do know for sure is that Mr Steiner was lonely, these men today was lonely.
The bars of America are trying hard to satisfy a need to belong, a need to be accepted, a need to be embraced, a need to be heard. 
We don't do very good at that, do we?


Anonymous said...

Ah, but YOU embraced them-just like Jesus. YOU were the church (def. a place of worth-ship) to them. Continue to do so. It doesn't take four walls in Lafox or Rockford or especially religion to bring people to Jesus. It takes what you did-having the golfballs to speak up for Jesus, and share what He means to you. HG did the rest.

I believe you made God smile today. WTG G...


Anonymous said...

...and remember, Jesus did His most ministry OUTSIDE the church building...

Mr. Preacher man (and I know theres a few that read here), shut that computer off, get out from behind that desk, and start interacting with people where THEY are, not hoping they will come to you. They won't because you've given them no reason to.

Stop telling me you have "a heart for the lost" when you treat me like gutter-trash, look down on me because Im different, or even gossip or lie about other christians because they don't think like you. It's like I heard the other day. You telling me I'm going to hell-that doesn't scare me. Not ever being loved does.

If I were "pope" (that's a joke), I'd make it mandatory for every single church in the USA to close its doors for one month, not send anything oversees or pay for any building expenses and spend that time dealing with people within one mile of your church. Knock on doors, serve people, etc.

It's MUCH harder to deliver the Gospel when it's done face to face - BUT its worth it. Anything else is drive-by and hapless. NOt doing anything and making someone else do all the work seems like a cop-out.

When you start dealing with who is around you now right in front of your nose, THEN you'll see revival.

(why you won't see that happen. Because too many are all talk and no walk. It's one thing to talk it: it's a whole different thing to show it. You will see by their fruit)

Go ye therefore...