One Canadian congregation realised it was failing to reach those who found conventional church off-putting. Rob Hurkmans explains how Church on Tap came into being.
Who says you have to do church in a church? The Parish of St. James and St. Brendan in Port Colborne, Ontario (Diocese of Niagara, Anglican Church of Canada) found the perfect place to start a new church community: the local pub. In this relaxed setting on the last Sunday of every month, the Canalside Pub and Eatery becomes the venue for Church On Tap. The format of the service is casual, the music is contemporary (or even 'secular'), and the waitresses serve drinks and food throughout the night – but in the midst of it all people are building community, exploring their faith, and learning about God.
Instead of watching sports on the big screen, members of Church On Tap engage with Christian themes through videos or guest speakers. There is plenty of opportunity for small group discussion, as well as sharing amongst the larger group. As you might imagine, many of the traditional barriers people encounter in churches, are non-existent in a pub. Also, the informal setting seems to enable people to share more freely with others in discussion.
Some have objected to the notion of holding church in a pub, but wasn't Jesus often accused of hanging out in the wrong places with the wrong people? Wasn't he called a glutton and drunkard? The mission of Church On Tap is not to reach the 'already churched' but to provide a place of prayer, worship, community, and discussion for those who may never step foot inside a traditional church building. So, for 'Faith, Friends, and Froth! – it's Church On Tap!' Cheers!