First Baptist Bar and Grill

From the “Beating a Dead Horse” category…

A Church in a Bar

KINGSVILLE, Texas – The Rev. Bob Gomez has, like many people, asked himself: What would Jesus do? His answer: He’d open a church in a bar.

If Jesus were alive today, Gomez said, he would not be insisting that people come worship within four walls he had built. He’d be taking the church to them.

On Sept. 7, Gomez did just that, hosting his first services in Kingsville at a local bar.

“People used to ask Jesus why he dealt with the tax collectors, the prostitutes, the lowlifes of society. And he used to tell them that he was going where the people were hurting and needed help,” Gomez said. “I think if Jesus were alive today he would open a church in a bar.”

Owners of Christopher’s Bar and Grill in Kingsville, where The Father’s House will be celebrating services, said that for them the church was a godsend.

Owner Patty Burton said her mother had been praying that she and her husband would go back to church.

“I told her that when we found one close by that would have services in the evening, then we would go. Well, the church sort of came to us,” Burton said. “I told my mother she must have been praying pretty hard.”

The Burtons aren’t open for business on Sundays, but did open the kitchen for hungry churchgoers anxious to taste their chicken fried steak.

Gomez, who is an ordained Southern Baptist minister, operates his church on a concept of cells and celebration. Members meet in small groups, or cells, once a week to study Bible verses and answer tough questions about how each one relates to them. Then on Sundays the congregation gathers for a joyful service of singing and clapping before the sermon.

“They can come in and enjoy a meal, maybe sing a little karaoke on Saturday night. And then come on Sunday night and hear some truth.”

On the other hand…

Ephesians 5:8-13
[W]alk as children of Light (for the fruit of the Light consists in all goodness and righteousness and truth), trying to learn what is pleasing to the Lord. Do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead even expose them; for it is disgraceful even to speak of the things which are done by them in secret. But all things become visible when they are exposed by the light, for everything that becomes visible is light.

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10 Responses to First Baptist Bar and Grill

  1. rick says:

    why do you add the passage at the end as a counterpoint to the story? what if that’s exactly what they’re doing – shining the light in the midst of the darkness. i can’t tell from what you’ve posted that they’ve compromised Christ, just that they’ve moved into a place where light has been non-existent…. the owners are another story – they need Christ, not some soothing idea that they’re okay now that the church is meeting in their bar. but with the light shining and penetrating, their hearts’ soil is being tilled for the seed of the word, right?

    interesting post – thanks!

  2. Hey Rick, thanks for the comment.

    I believe the church is called to be set apart from the world. Christ referred to us as light in the context of a city on a hill and a lamp on a lampstand. In both of those word pictures, it is due to the light being up and apart that makes it visible to begin with. Jesus said that a lamp on a lampstand gives light to everyone in the house.

    The way I read scripture, the church ought to engage in “lifestyle evangelism”, which is to say that we ought to live such good lives before unbelievers that they see our good works and glorify God.

    I believe that a church meeting in a bar is not functioning as a city on a hill and is not being faithful to God’s call to “come out from among them, and be ye separate”.

    My church meets in a factory owned by one of the members, and I’ve been part of a church that met in a karate studio. But a bar is associated with licentiousness and sin in ways that other buildings aren’t. I do not believe God wants us to gather for corporate worship underneath a slowly rotating disco ball or a neon “Beer Bar” sign.

  3. C’mon, Jared, you know you want to comment. You won’t be able to hold out forever! :-)

  4. Jared says:

    Pointless. You already know what I’d say.
    To indulge you: I think you continue to misinterpret the “city/lampstand” passages. They are not about distance, but about visibility and contrast.
    Come out from their midst, too, I think refers to personal holiness and difference of character, attitude, etc., not strictly speaking about where you go or who you hang out with. Just what you do and say and how you act when you’re there.

    I can’t comment directly to the sitch in the story. I myself have some qualms about a church meeting in a bar. But I don’t know why. I tend to agree with Rick that the very place for the light to be is smack-dab where there is darkness.

  5. Gator says:

    ever been to Kingsville? Quite possibly the only standing structure in Kingsville in a bar… that or a Dairy Queeen.

    There was a post-evangelical movement in England that took on the name ‘Holy Joes’ – formed by a group of Christians that got dissatisfied with ‘church’.

    They met in a pub, which is a bit different than a Texas (most likely in Kingsville) BYOB Bar.

    I think the place to stay is the local church body, don’t get me wrong. But there is something to be said about trying to ‘shine the light in the darkness’…

    c.f. Phil 1:15-18


  6. rick says:

    Light shines brightest where it’s dark. Salt is needed where there’s no taste, no preservatives. There’s no more or less sinfulness attached to a bar than to a karate studio (eastern religions?) or a warehouse (possible awkward business practices?) – or in a regular good ol’ church building (full of hypocrites and the spiritually proud?). “In the world and not of it” has to be taken into account… you think?

    Thanks for posting and stretching :).

  7. brenda says:

    I have been thinking about starting a churh in a local bar on Sunday morning myself. I was wondering how a church could shake off the bone rotting religious spirits that infest chruches. I guess that is why Jesus hung out with the unreligeous people. He said the sick needed him and not the “well” (or those that think they were well) I have found more people open to Jesus in bars then in churches where they already have all they need.
    Jesus had more trouble with religeous people then he had with drunkeness. I find the folks in the bars refreshingly honest and humble.

  8. Paul Grant says:

    The difference pointed out above is the exact striking difference between what Christ taught(going among the unclean and undsirable with his ministry) and what his apostles(Ephesians being an apostolic letter) interpreted Christ’s ministry to mean. The parable you mention the church being a lamp unto the world, etc. is best interpreted as meaning the way you live your life, basically that the ministry may be brought to the unbeliever, undesirable, unclean without being so yourself. What is the point in a ministry that only seeks to teach those already believing the doctrine. That was the whole point of Christ’s ministry in fact. If He had stuck only to those who “believed” it would have remained a wholly Judaic movement.

  9. Dora Corley says:

    The “evangelical bar movement” lasted only a short time. This pastor likes to be sensational not to evangelize but to get his name in the paper. You should look at his track record now. He said, and I quote, “God is leading me to leave CBF and start a new work in Corpus Christi”. He then moved 15 minutes away and began a church in Driscoll. That lasted a few months, and he began the “church in a bar” church. It was all over the Kingsville and Corpus Christi papers. It lasted a while, he went to the university and met there, and now he has another location. I thought he said God told him to go to Corpus Christi? Perhaps he misunderstood God or had not cleaned out the earwax in his ears. If this were his only bad habit, there would still be hope. He has many other dark secrets he hopes are never discovered. I leave you with that!

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