Monday, September 30, 2013

Lessons from Spain (and other European countries): Ministry Happens in a Bar

I have a new friend who is sassy.  She's also brilliant, sensitive, wise, and discerning, humble and modest, and a fantastic listener.  She is British, 100%, as in, her parents are English, she was born in England, and so that makes her an Englishwoman.  Ryan kisses the back of her hand every time he sees her and addresses her as "Princess."  And she's a girl totally, madly, deeply in love with her Savior.  She is teaching me so very much.

Being from the other side of the Pond, she also likes Scotch, or Bourbon, or Gin, or one of those drinks men who are 60 or older sip in smoky wood paneled clubs with leaded glass windows where Englishmen meet amongst walls lined with leather bound books and trophy deer heads from plaid clad weekends on the hillsides of Europe.

This very statement made some readers wonder if my friend is really even a Christian...seriously, raise your hand if your remember Jesus' first miracle.

Anyway, being a SAHCMFTBIA (Stay At Home Caucasian Mom From The Burbs In America), I've never really embraced my ethnicity one way or another.  Just this morning I had to fill out a form and check the vanilla boring nondescript box labeled, "Caucasian."  Before I was married I at least told people how my maiden name means, "Bible" in German and then I'd break out into "Stille Nacht" or count to 10 in German just to show I still had a little in me.

Since meeting my new British friend, my eyes have been opened a tad more to faith in other parts of the world.  Oh, I've been on missions and studied missions and have traveled for both ministry and pleasure in several parts of the world.  And I know from both studying and travels about major world religions, as well as how Christianity differs from culture to culture, and how cultures differ due to religious influence.

But a few months ago while I sipped a glass of red and my British friend her drink of choice, pouring our hearts out to one another about everything under the sun, she told me how, from living in America for 30+ years, American Christianity and European Christianity vary greatly...

...not in the Message of God's love for mankind, but in the cultural message, which often muddles the Everlasting Message profanely.

In Europe, at least in Britain, she said the Pub on the corner is where people talk about love and life and ups and downs, you know, kind of like a "small group."  It's not demonized as a place to just get drunk, like "Spring Break '89", but rather a place to open up and share life.  It's like, oh, could we say, church.

A forbidden fruit mentality has been fostered in this nation for 100's of years, setting up bars and alcohol as something to be pursued in anything other than moderation, putting an age on it as if that makes a person mature and responsible, and slapping a party mentality on it.

The funny thing is, over the last year or so I've spent quite a bit of time with women who have reached out, seeking an ear, belly up to a bar.  Women who have been hit by their husband, others controlled "Sleeping With the Enemy" style, divorced, separated, suffocating in loveless marriages, some just crying out to be loved by their workaholic husbands, not the men they originally had fallen in love with...women pouring out their hearts over their dreams for their children, their fears, their own personal dreams and aspirations, and the brokenness of their realities.

And we cry, and stop, and pray, right there, belly up, holding hands, eyes closed, seeking God's direction and healing in every situation.

My dad asked me why I couldn't just go to Village Inn, instead...

...ummmm, gross, I just barfed a little typing "Village Inn".  

I'm not trying to fit a conventional ideal of what a woman who loves God with her whole heart and also happens to be in ministry, looks like.  And, I'm also not trying to shock anyone just for shock value.

I'm actually quite tired of the banter and pleasing and grieved to my core of all the talk ABOUT so many other THINGS within Evangelical "Christianity" rather than THE ONE THING, the only true thing, which is:

God is totally and completely in love with you.  That's all.

I don't go to Village Inn because it's gross.  I don't even think I'll choose VI when I'm 89.  If a woman asked me to meet there because she wanted to pour her heart into mine, to see if I'd be a listening ear, then of course I'd go to Village listen to her heart.

But that's not where these amazing women have asked me to meet them.  They have asked me to meet them at bars, for a drink, where we can just talk.  Can "talking" happen anywhere else?  Duh.

But if I am to embrace my heritage, then I'm guessing some of my Irish, Scotch, German, Swiss, French, and English ancestors likely had church in Pubs, way back when, across the Pond.  And I'd venture to guess their hard-working lives were more authentic and vulnerable than the facades of perfectionism Evangelical "Christianity" has set up here in the "New Country."

And if I'm to truly embrace what it means to lay down my life and follow Christ, to allow my life to be a source of His love poured out, in spite of me, then I also need to embrace the beauty that sometimes women's ministry happens in a bar.


  1. Adrienne, Thank you for sharing your love for the Lord, family, and friends. May God bless this ministry!!

    1. Thanks, Brad! I just want people to know God is totally in love with each of us, and often times people are able to hear it more clearly outside the walls of a church.

  2. oh girl... girl girl girl.... everything about you frees me up a little bit more. it's so tiring, isn't it? putting on the face? the cloak? the cover? oh can't we just be ourselves for God's sake? truly - no disrespect intended - for GOD'S SAKE? can't we just BE and just LOVE? oh we aren't going to be best friends with just anyone. yes, we have to boundary ourselves where relationships aren't helpful to us. but must we call "unChristian" anyone who does it differently than we do?
    so glad you can say what needs to be said. yes. good.