A church in Lansing, Michigan hopes to build relationships with non-Christians by holding services in a bar.
Crossroads church’s outreach project called The Upper Room will feature glasses of beer next to Bibles on the bar tables; the pastors will buy each first-timer a drink.
Crossroads founder Noah Filipiak said that buying a drink is symbolic for offering people friendship.
"We think it communicates something to people that are very leery of church and very leery of the church being very judgmental about things,” he said.
Filipiak said that before The Upper Room project, he thought that the laid-back Crossroads church would attract newcomers.
"I feel like our church is 'cool,' you know. We serve coffee and pie, and we're laid back and you don't have to dress up, and the things that Christians normally think, 'Oh people who don't go to church will come because we do these things.'"
However, the casual church atmosphere did not bring in many new people and Filipiak found the “blue jeans and coffee and rock and roll band” church market to be saturated.
Instead, The Upper Room plans to introduce non-Christians to faith with no hymns and no prayers unless someone requests to do so “because we've learned through talking with people that don't go to church that it's weird to sing to a God you don't believe in,” Filipiak said.
The bar church had a soft opening in October, and an official opening night on Nov. 11. The response has been positive from attendees.
Crossroads member John Yunker said bringing services to a bar location felt natural. "I was struggling on and off with Christianity, grew up with it. When I started going to the church, it felt like it was actually geared toward me, not somebody who had been a Christian their entire life."
Publication date: November 14, 2014