Since starting up our church’s Theology Pub, there have been a few folks who have asked how it’s gone and what we’ve talked about. We’ve only had it two weeks, but I think both weeks have been successes and so I’ll share about them briefly, as well as some additional thoughts.
I tried to go with a dual-approach for advertising about our Theology Pub. I had hoped that this would be something that young adults in our congregation would be interested in. However, it’s something that we open up to all people in the congregation. Partially because I really enjoy it, but also because I wanted to put up some posters around town, I designed a different poster for each week (see below). I put up posters in Starbucks, Peet’s and Panama Red (a local coffeehouse that is right across the street from the First Street Alehouse). The first week I asked people if I could put up the posters, but after that, I just walked in and put them up.
I also created a Facebook Event sponsored by the Asbury Young Adults group. However, that caused some confusion because there were still some folks in our church who showed up and “apologized” for not being young adults. Next time I’m going to have our church’s Facebook group create the event.
I definitely see my role at Theology Pub as a facilitator. I come each time with a handout that can help provide some fodder for conversation. To see an example of the handout, you can view the one I created for our discussion on pluralism. On these handouts, I try and put some quotes and some questions that people can look through during the night. I think they work pretty well; last week there were quite a few times when people referenced quotes from the sheet and used them as springboards for their own thoughts during the conversation.
Our first Theology Pub topic was evangelism. We had 3 people show up and while the group was smaller than I had initially hoped, we had some really good conversation. However, I had also scheduled it on the night of our Church Council meeting (after it was that group that voted on the approval of Theology Pub – oops), and there were some other things going on.
Evangelism seemed like a pretty good topic to start off with: we all had different experiences with evangelism, both positive and negative experiences. I had some questions prepared that started to get the conversation going. Some of them were:
- What are some of your previous experiences with evangelism?
- Why have mainline churches been so afraid of evangelism?
- Is there a definition of evangelism we can embrace that is both faithful to scripture and is something that we won’t want to run away from?
Somehow we ended up veering off track and talked about homosexuality for quite awhile – however, we got back around to the topic toward the end. I think everyone felt as though it was a really good conversation in which everyone was able to listen and feel heard. Also – the beers were very good.
Our second Theology Pub was held again at the First Street Alehouse and the topic for the night was pluralism. We had a really good group show up – a few college-aged young adults, some adults from our church and a couple who saw the poster across the street at the coffeehouse and came over and joined us. About twelve people in all were there for about two hours.
Again – this topic seemed to be a pretty easy topic for people to get into. To start off the evening, I just told them briefly what was on the pluralism sheet, and then read a quote about exclusivism, inclusivism and pluralism from Leslie Newbigin’s “The Gospel in a Pluralist Society.” This served as a good opening and then people pretty much carried the whole conversation for the night.
We could have gone on for much longer, I suspect, but I wanted to honor people’s time and so we ended right at around 9.30pm. I’ve been in touch with the local rabbi and he’s interested in joining us for a Theology Pub focused on interfaith issues. So it will be a good follow-up to the discussion of pluralism.
As I was leaving, our waiter asked how the theology pub was and we talked a little about the group and why we did it. I’m really excited about the future of this ministry of our church and the way it could be a cool outreach possibility and connection to the community. If any of you have done a theology pub (or…dare I mention it – “Theology on Tap”), I’d love to hear how this sounds similar or different from what you’ve experienced.