Last Call - When Church Happens In A Bar
My dad didn’t attend church with us save one time. When I was in my late 20's, he attended an Easter service our church held at the local high school. He looked incredibly uncomfortable from the time he pulled up in the parking lot all the way until he lit up a cigarette as he drove away.
I often wonder if my dad would have ever become a good, church-going man. If he’d been radically saved, could he have performed the duties of a deacon? It’s awful hard for me to imagine.
Photo Credit: Jerry Herships (Facebook)
Some people just aren’t the church-going type. But what if we decided to instead bring the church to them? Their street corners, their universities, their bars? In Last Call: From Serving Drinks to Serving Jesus, author Jerry Herships has set out to do just that.
[He’s found] one model that will connect with a lot of people who have not found a way to “do” church. He calls it AfterHours Denver.
Although Jerry grew up Catholic, he spent a number of years away from the church. I mean, like “Hollywood” far away from the church. His lifelong dream for many years was to be a late night TV show host. God certainly made him an entertainer. Readers can enjoy the retelling of his journey to the pastorate. I’m sure God got a chuckle or two along the way as well.
Ultimately, he started attending church again with his wife, Laura.
Laura had been Methodist all her life, and that’s the reason we looked into Methodist churches. It didn’t really matter to me... Thank God she wasn’t raised Catholic, or I would be a priest and we would have been dating in secret all these years.
Jerry and Laura eventually settled in Florida, where they attended St. Luke’s Methodist Church. The pastor there, Bill Barnes, told Jerry very early on that he saw him going into ministry.
To Bill’s credit, after I revealed my habits of cursing, drinking, and looking at pretty girls, (not all at once) and making it clear I was not the right guy for the job, he simply said, "Maybe you are just the guy for the job. Maybe we need more pastors who admit they aren’t heroes."
About seven years later, Jerry left for seminary in Denver, Colorado.
From there, he started working with his unconventional congregation. They meet in bars all around the Denver area. He gives a very sound argument for a bar allowing them to have a service in their establishment, even though the ministry has never paid a dime in rent.
Bar owners find Jesus right quick when you bring in eighty covers on a Monday night.
Every time they meet, this group also makes sandwiches and sets out to feed the homeless. What’s surprised Jerry the most is how much he’s been touched by this activity alongside the homeless. A real community has been formed.
One guy on a low fixed income brought me a jar of jelly he had bought with food stamps to help make the peanut butter and jelly sandwiches that our faith community AfterHours serves to the homeless each week.
I liked this book mostly because I want God to expand my horizons beyond what I know of denominations and church and evangelizing. This book certainly offers that.
As I read it, I kept asking myself these questions:
What is the goal here?
When do they know they’re being successful?
Are people getting saved?
Do these even qualify as the right questions?
Maybe those are great questions to ask of any “church” that’s ministering in the name of Jesus Christ. All I know is I’d bet money my dad would have been more comfortable at AfterHours (at the very least check out their website linked here) than he ever was at a traditional church.
I received a copy of Last Call, written by Jerry Herships, from NetGalley for the purpose of generating a review. Italicized quotes are from the books. The opinions expressed here are my own.