St. Wulfram’s Beer Festival

There’s Something Wrong with This

Today I noticed a Wall Street Journal article announcing “Come to Church! There’s Beer.” Needless to say, it caught my attention as I winced inside. The journalist reports that an Anglican church in Grantham, England is hosting a 3-day beer-drinking festival, offering a craft-beer list with 50-plus beverages. The beverages feature outlandish names like Black Mass, Absolution and Salvation (and worse). Why are they doing this? The Journal reports:

The Church of England has dealt with dwindling attendance for decades. In the 10 years up to last year, attendance has fallen by 10% to 15%, according to an October 2016 estimate from the denomination.

Though this maneuver aims to get people into the building and keep them connected to what’s going on there, it continues a long-standing tradition of pragmatism that appears to have caused their predicament in the first place.

One lay minister notes “that the church in Grantham was used for worldly purposes such as markets as far back as the 13th century.” And though some parish traditionalists decry this beer-drinking turn of events, they do so because it is a “departure from bake sales and flower shows” which they believe to be more appropriate.

Ultimately, this problem stems from a flawed view of the mission of a church.

Ultimately, this problem stems from a flawed view of the mission of a church. Mr. Cradduck, the rector of St. Wulfram’s Church, states his belief about church mission in this way: “I believe the church is about—and Christianity is about—inclusivity and welcoming people.” But is that true?

Churches like this have lost their way. Can they even be called churches?

The Mission of a Church

What is a church’s mission? To show to all the world the many-sided wisdom of God (Ephesians 3:10) and to build mature believers who know and serve God as Christ would (Ephesians 4:12).

So what does a beer-party have to do with church ministry and Christian living? Nothing whatsoever.

And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess [for that is debauchery]; but be filled with [led by] the Spirit. (Ephesians 5:18)

Followers of Christ should refrain from the intoxicating influence of alcoholic beverages, unless it is prescribed for medicinal reasons in small amounts (1 Timothy 5:23). And we should certainly refrain from serving it to others, no matter how many people might attend a drinking party. Drinking parties are what pagans do, not churches. They need to be rescued from this kind of thing, not by it (1 Peter 4:3).

Followers of Christ should refrain from the intoxicating influence of alcoholic beverages.

Rather than succumb to the influence of intoxicating beverages (and illicit drugs), we should yield to the leadership of the Holy Spirit through the clear teaching of Scripture. The words of God, not alcohol or beer, should influence our thinking.

“Come to Church! There’s Beer.” This needs to change.

How about this? “Come to Church! There’s God.” Or, “Come to Church! There’s the Word of God.”

Now that’s more like it.

For more biblical thoughts about the Christian and drinking alcohol, click here.

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