The ad of Country Rock Church says it all: “A New Kind Of Church For Real People Wantin’ A Real Faith.” As its main attraction, it touted, “For Real! Top Regional Bands, Pizza, Wings, Rowdy Fun And A Short Message.” Where? “At A Pub In Sydney.”
At a what? Yes, you read it right. This “barroom church” meets every Sunday night at the Pub Lounge in Sidney, Western Ohio (USA). Rev. Chris Heckaman of Sidney United First Methodist Church is constantly on a lookout “for creative ways to reach people in unconventional places.” I just could not imagine what he meant by “rowdy fun” but the “short message” of Heckaman “compared staying on the bar’s mechanical bull to learning how to get along in life.” (Source: ) In my mind, I see the pastor holding on to the saddle for his dear life as he rides a mechanical bull that simulates the wild kicking and spinning of a (what else?) bull in a rodeo. Then, catching his breath while picking himself up from the ground after the bull threw him off, he would open his bible and preach. Believe me. It’s not for the fainthearted! I heard that people enjoyed the first gathering (Around 100 showed up!) that Heckaman planned to do it weekly. (Yes, I could almost read your minds. Thanks but no thanks!)
I know the Apostle Paul wrote, “I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some. I do all this for the sake of the gospel” (1 Corinthians 9:22-23a, NIV). But, I just feel that church is stretching it a bit far, though I am not judging their sincerity in doing so. There’s a difference between publicity stunt or gimmickry and creativity in ministry.
But, the ad pointed out a legitimate longing deep in people’s hearts: “Real People Wantin’ A Real Faith.” They are looking for a faith that connects. They are not really seeking to be entertained but to be encouraged. They want a message that is relevant to their everyday lives. The problem is we tend to say with our lips that God is real but deny it with our lives. Let us show that we are real people with real faith so that people would be wantin’ it.
Brethren, it’s not the antic but being authentic that counts.