God in the bar...
Last night our worship band played in a bar...it's actually an old theater that is now owned by the bar and is attached by a paved courtyard.
It is always a disconcerting experience playing songs that talk about life, spirituality, God and humanity to a secular audience. But I have to say that I very much enjoy it. There's something about singing a song about God's love to a person holding a beer bottle that makes more sense that a person holding a Bible. It's like most of time I'm peddling medicine to people who aren't really sick when I lead worship in church. I mean, we're all sick, but you know what I'm saying.
There were several drunk people there last night. I talked to a few of them. They were incoherent and silly. They were asking me questions about the most random things and I felt odd even trying to form a semi-reasonable answer. A couple of them even attend our church, which is another unique set of circumstances to wade through. But hey, we're here to reach people, right? And we want them to be themselves, right? We want them to come as they are not as we hope them to be, right? Right? Right.
So there they sit in front of us as we sang out songs like "We won't be Quiet" and "How He Loves" and "God of this City" and "Undignified". The cigarette smoke was hovering all about us. The people were talking and laughing and carrying on even as we sang. The room was dark and club-like. But it was awesome. I mean awesome.
The last song, "Undignified", did not disappoint. A mass of people, young and old found there way down to the front, near the stage. They were poised to jump around and go crazy. We started the song faster than I had ever sung it...faster than my mouth could move and my hands could strum. The electric guitar was screaming. The drums were pounding. The bass was booming. The atmosphere was steroidic in nature. (I know, steroidic is not a word)
We got the crowd clapping in double time. You know, the hands above the head kind of clapping must commonly seen at punk rock concerts. After the first run through of the verse, chorus, and "na na na na na na's"...I put down my guitar and started getting a little undignified by leading everyone in frenzied affection for God. (ironic in a bar) I jumped, I clapped, I pumped my fist, I screamed, I shouted, I sang from the top of my lungs and the bottom of my heart simultaneously, I danced like I imagined David did when he got undignified before the Lord on the day the His presence came back to Jerusalem and the ark was returned. I was out of breath, I was out of my mind, I was out to lunch and I was hung out to dry...but I needed to be. And I needed to be in front of a bunch of humans that weren't cleaned up for church.
I don't know this for sure, but I think God was at the bar last night feeding the hungry and clothing the naked and watering the thirsty and freeing the captives and binding up the broken...because his mission is as it has always been. "I did not come for the healthy, but for the sick."
I want to bring the sick to God....but I'm seeing the difference between that and bringing God to the sick. It's the difference between inviting people to church and the church going out and being inviting.
I can only hope God seemed inviting to people last night.