Just before the holidays I wrote about how Australian men’s ministries have been using meat consumption in their mission to reach men (meat-eating being a classic signifier for masculinity). In my most recent article under review, “That’s Not How We Do Things Here: American Men’s Ministries in an Australasian Context,” I note that only alcohol matches meat as a potent source of masculine sustenance.
The same news article that introduced meat in ministries also made a side note along these lines, which mentions St Lukes church in Miranda and its “A is for Ale …and J is for Jesus” initiative where men “get involved in some beer-related trivia and sit back to listen to a yarn or two about beer and Jesus.”
One would expect more of this given the popularity in recent years of Spirituality in the Pub events in Australia, and I’ve always been surprised there is not more booze in men’s ministry, the only other example I’ve found being the Baptist Men’s Movement in the UK that partnered with the pub chain J. D. Wetherspoon to host their annual Big Breakfast event. That was until I read this recent news story, “A man walks into bar … and starts a church: Minn. seminarian holds unconventional services.”
The above image is the bar in Two Harbors, Minnesota where pastor Chris Fletcher has been holding services of what he describes as “Bar Church” with the cunning tag line of “for all those who are thirsty.” Fletcher is part of the emerging church movement rather than men’s ministry. I certainly have no problem with people holding services in venues that niche congregations find comfortable, but I predict that given how the U.S. media has picked up on this story, men’s ministry will be using bar services to some effect in 2011, and probably reaching new lows in their efforts to attract men who are anxious about a perceived decline of masculinity within the church.