Sunday, November 18, 2012

Drinks & Hymns

A few years ago, some of the cool churches started doing a "Beer & Hymns" event — a time for the spiritual-but-not-religious and the religious-but-not-spiritual to meet in a locally owned pub for a hymn sing.  The allure was two fold: (1) a chance to debunk the impression that Christians are stuffy prohibitionists, and (2) a proclamation that songs of faith can/should be sung outside of church.

In September my friend Nate Houge came down from Minnesota and led a coffee + beer + hymns event in Des Moines.  The venue was perfect -- a slightly rundown theater owned by an adjacent coffee shop which also seves food, wine, and beer.  We promoted it across several Lutheran churches and two local colleges, hoping to snag the notoriously de-churched Millennial crowd.  About 30 people came - many of whom were church workers.  I'll admit to being simultaneously disappointed with the turnout and blessed by those who came.  It was a fun night, but I wondered if my circle of influence wasn't "urban hipster" enough to pull off this kind of radical project.  I totally get it.  Singing hymns in a public non-church place is weird...especially if alcohol might be present.

I'm not sure why, but we decided to do another one...with a few tweaks.  We held it on a Friday night (instead of Thursday) and changed the name to Drinks & Hymns which is a little more church newsletter friendly.  We also relied on local musicians to perform a brief concert and lead the hymn sing.  This time around, there were 75+ who attended, which made for a loud and satisfying evening.  It was truly a cross-generational event involving people in their 70's on down to a five-week old baby.  The full spectrum of drink varieties were consumed.  Some tears were shed.  Harmonies were sung.  The feedback was overwhelmingly positive.

There seems to be some energy around doing Drinks & Hymns again in Central Iowa...which makes my heart happy.

If you're thinking of starting your own beverage/hymns event, Pastor Keith Anderson has some helpful suggestions.

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