The Well, a United Methodist Church in Defiance, Missouri, meets in a place some Christians believe is wrong to even step foot into, let alone be seen worshiping in.
United Methodist Pastor Danny Lybarger leads a church that literally meets at a bar, specifically at Good News Brewing. But this isn’t your typical brewery. The concept behind Good News Brewing originated after a group of friends went through Hugh Halter’s book Flesh: Bringing the Incarnation Down to Earth in their Bible study where they learned the power of sharing the good news.
Halter, who has been a pastor, church planter, missions trainer, and author, says his mission is to “encourage the church to be less churchy and instead work on creating social, personal, & spiritual ventures that serve our cities in ways that make God smile.”
It appears the owners of Good News Brewing weren’t the only ones following Halter’s missional words. Halter wrote in the book: “If you want a safe faith, you will never really know God because he doesn’t hang out in the shallow end much.” Pastor Lybarger took those words to heart. The new church plant now calls the brewery home.
“As a part of this church, our goal is to see lives truly transformed and the way we believe that happens is through understanding that each and every one of us belongs as we are,” Lybarger said in an interview on KSDK 5 On Your Side News. “Indeed, open and honest and vulnerable to each other where we are.”
“We want people to come and whether they have a beer during service or after service, if they have a pizza after service or before, or they don’t stick around at all. We just want to sa,y let’s actually meet where people already meet.”
One church attender told the reporter “alcohol kind of loosens you up a bit,” so for those who have been away from church but have been afraid to return, “it kind of shows, like, come as you are.”
Another attendee said, “This church is open to everybody,” describing it as a church for “misfits.”
The reporter shared that he didn’t see one person drinking beer during the worship service, and intimated the church’s approach was a “very creative marketing campaign.”
The church’s website answers the question: “Why have church at a bar and not at a regular church building?” The new church plant answers this by saying The Well’s desire is to be in the heart of the community. Calling the brewery the 21st-century watering hole (a well) the church says, “Some of our deepest and most heartfelt conversations happen in or at spaces like the local bar,” comparing this to Jesus’ time during His ministry.
“People from all regions and walks of life gathered around the well, and shared stories of hope, pain and celebration,” the site continues. “Real-life happened there and that is our hope for The Well. To create a non-threatening environment where the believer, wanderer, and skeptic can all come together around the same table and share a time of celebration…followed by great food and drinks.”
The website explains that the sole purpose for The Well’s existence is to “invite as many people as possible to experience the radical love, hospitality, grace and power found in the person of Jesus.”
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