Two Brethren churches in California are engaged in a new outreach, called Brethren Brew Pub. As The Brethren Evangelist mentioned in the Spring 2017 issue, Manteca's Zao Church and Northgate Community Church have been successfully pairing home-brewed beer tastings with small-group style devotions.
The gatherings take place every other Thursday night, and they've been catching quite a bit of attention. Recently, two different news stations have covered the outreach, and Brethren Brew Pub continues to bring people into community, and into relationship with Jesus.
It is no mystery that this type of outreach will cause some Brethren to raise their eyebrows. Some are wildly in favor of this type of outreach, and others are not. Our encouragement would be to engage in the conversation. Reach out to Zao or Northgate, and have a conversation! Brethren Brew Pub has created a statement that answers many questions, how they guard against abuse, etc. View the statement here
I just finished reading the article, and all I can say is, wow! It is this type of worldly activity in the modern North American church that makes me want to smack my head off of a table top. I'm not some old fuddy duddy who has never indulged in beer. I am a retired sailor and a recovering alcoholic. Before I was commissioned as the pastor of Johnstown Third Brethren Church, I was their youth pastor for nine years. Over the last near 13 years I have preached extensively about Romans 12:1-2. The fact that I even have to sit and write about this utterly astounds me; but then again, perhaps it should not. Are we really that hard up to establish "community" that we have "beer meetings with Jesus"? Sorry folks, I have a seriously difficult time abiding with this. What's next? I checked, and California is a state that has legal recreation use of marijuana. Do you plan to sanction "Tokin' Disciples" or "Up In Smoke With The Bible" sessions? If not, then why not? While I do not begrudge a person to indulge in a couple of beers in their leisure, I have serious heartburn with affixing said indulgence to preaching the gospel. I have spent the better part of the past two and a half decades trying to help people with addictions and substance abuse issues, both in secular society and in Christian ministry. In a world that is literally awash in drugs and alcohol, this is not helping. Its a distraction at best.
And just to be clear, I did read the entire blog entry, I watched the first video and I read the "statement" via the link provided.
My heart weeps with a sad soul that free beer is served in the name of Jesus by Brethren pastors and then broadcast for the world to know. "The faith which you have, have as your own conviction before God. Happy is he who does not condemn himself in what he approves" (Rom. 14:22). (See also Rom. 14:21; 1 Cor. 8:13; Prov. 20:1)
I have a couple questions.
Are we trying to strive to the level of Christ which is the bench mark or are we trying to bring Christ to our level?
Will this be open to recovering alcoholics or anyone with addiction problems?
I completely agree with Mr Dull this is a complete joke. Where does the line get drawn? What separates the church from the world?
I would truly like to know why this is not being discouraged on a broader scale. I fully understand that the National Office does not have authority over the local church. But,I would at least expect some sort of "guidance" if not a flat out rebuke for advertising and offering free beer in tandem with preaching the gospel. Why are we trying so hard to be worldly? Is the gospel of Jesus Christ so ineffective and inept in the eyes of this ministry that it must be paired with free alcoholic beverages? Oh how we have fallen. (sad face).
Chris and Jason -
Thanks for your thoughts here, they're needed and valued in this conversation. While it is important to have this dialogue, leaving comments here really isn't having a dialogue. Our suggestion is to reach out to your fellow Brethren pastors in California and have this conversation directly. Find out what's going on. Learn about the outreach. Have a conversation with them, rather than about them
When a local body places the name Brethren on soemthing, it not only affects opinions and thoughts of people in one area but all across the world. It says we all endorse something. When something is controversial especially something many Brethren may have disdain for and have been historically opposed to this should have been brought up for general discussion and approval. I have contacted the pastors in California about this but do believe it should have been made known before hand because it is such a controversial method of outreach. I am not saying we need to check with everyone whenever we want to do a ministry but if we are going to endorse something by using the Brethren name then we have to be considerate of all the Brethren and not just a few
I understand local congregation can choose what type of outreach they think is most affective in there area but does The Brethren Church endorse this type of outreach?
In this case, your question gets at whether the national body of The Brethren Church favors, prefers or promotes this kind of outreach.
There are a few layers to this answer:
1) YOU are The Brethren Church. The Brethren Church National Office operates under the direction of the National Executive Board, which was birthed by a move of General Conference, and acts as General Conference when not in session. To wonder if The Brethren Church endorses something is to wonder whether you do. You have the ability, as does every single delegate to the conference to weigh in on any matter. There is no hierarchy in our movement.
General Conference has neither explicitly endorsed or condemned this particular outreach.
2) The National Executive Board has however adopted The Brethren Church's Mission, Vision, and Values, which you can read here: http://www.brethrenchurch.org/about-us/vision-values-and-beliefs. Of particular interest, in this case, would be the section on incarnational ministry.
General Conference 2017 also accepted a new social issues statement. The statement's section on alcohol holds these things in tension as well, neither prohibiting alcohol use nor encouraging it. Rather, it encourages gentle accountability and temperance in all things.
This is the beauty of our value in communal discernment, however. Issues that affect the full Brethren body can be discerned together through our General Conference.
Our encouragement though would be the following: First, pray. Pray for your fellow pastors, that they would continue to best discern how to bring the Gospel to their community and context. Pray for deeper community and understanding in our body.
Second, we'd encourage you to reach out to Pastor Miles and Pastor Jesse directly, as well as other pastors in their region. Ask questions. Ask about the fruit that their ministry is bearing. Ask about how the name of Jesus is being proclaimed in ways and places it never has before. Ask about the lives that are already being changed because of this outreach.
And, continue to ask questions!
I am almost afraid to comment as it appears it may not be considered dialogue; however, my question is why are there limits to how much partaking during the meeting time and why are children not welcome (except for babies!)? I feel the concern is that beer can lead to risky and or dangerous lifestyles and in a short period of time can negatively affect judgment and behavior that is not a good example of Christ-likeness. Underage drinking is also illegal - are we to limit who can be present to hear the gospel discussed or presented? I believe Christ lived in the world,but not of the world, not to partake and invite others into the "world", but to build relationship and friendship in order to change lives and convict persons to become different than the "world". I am concerned and greatly saddened that the Brethren Church is associated in the media and any other way with this method of evangelization Which, by the very nature of alcohol, can potentially affect the ability of a person to be an effective Christ-follower.
Is this the best that we can model for our children, teenagers, young adults and adults?
Slippery slope. I was married to a "beer-aholic" for 20 years, until his addiction took his life at 59 years of age. Condoning by any Christ follower, let alone an elder, of drinking alcoholic beverages is beyond my comprehension. To couple drinking with Biblical devotion is an oxymoron to say the least. Yes, I do believe Jesus turned water into wine at a wedding. But, clearly, consumption of alcohol does lead to abuse. This, to me, goes against not only Brethren tradition, but common sense.