It’s Q & A time hosted by Pub Theology. A rowdy but respectful crowd has given Daron Earlewine (a.k.a. The Pub Pastor) command of the room as he reads questions submitted by text to his phone. The next question will alter his perceptions of a particularly moody bartender who is busy mixing drinks just across the room. Up until this moment, Daron thought she hated everyone associated with Pub Theology. That changed when he read her text, “How am I supposed to work on a relationship with God when I believe he hates me?”
“To reach people no one is reaching you must do things no one is doing.” – Craig Groeschel
Doing ministry in bars invites tough questions from both the patrons and the Christian community. But Daron has embraced the opportunity and this overlooked community.
“Before, I would have said that’s where all the crazy sinners go to do all their debauchery and terrible things,” says Daron. “And then I realized these are actually really good people that are just trying to build a community and have relationships. And this environment, because Christians are afraid to go in there and really serve, is an environment that is isolated from the gospel. It’s not against it —it’s not anti-gospel, it’s just isolated from it.” And he decided, “If we could go there and be there for them, I think things can happen.”
Eight years later, the ministry has grown to include Radio Theology on WZPL, a podcast, and a variety of special events. “When you come to our events, we are one third a party in a bar, one third a charity event, and one third an encounter with God!” says Daron.
And who is coming to those events? According to Daron, “People who were truly far from God, never thought of going to church and didn’t think they would be welcomed there. It’s just been amazing that we’ve been able to take the gospel of Jesus Christ, take it into the everyday spaces and places of people’s lives and see them surprised to be loved.”
Loved like Jamie, the bartender who submitted the question that night. Today, she attends church regularly with her daughter and is following Christ.
Craig Groeschel, pastor of the largest church in America once said, “To reach people no one is reaching you must do things no one is doing.” When you step out in that reality, you will meet resistance. The “Jamies” of the world make it worthwhile, but following God’s calling often comes at a cost.
Daron doesn’t sugarcoat it. “It’s not going to be easy. And for me, in a lot of ways it cost me my entire reputation. I was kicked out of the denomination I was raised in. It cost every friend and ministry associate that I had since birth. That was a really tough season. Following after the pioneering visions God has given, you’ve got to realize that it’s going to cost you.”
If God has given you the vision to do what no one else is doing, Daron offers encouragement from his own experience. “I think that’s a part of it for pioneers and apostles and entrepreneurs to realize—if God gives you a vision and you start seeing results, stop waiting for somebody to give you permission to do it. If the Holy Spirit puts it on your heart to do something and you have the ability to do it, and he’s opening doors—chase after that grace and just go.”
Most importantly, he believes we can’t be confined by a perception of the professional pastor. “And I think there are other fields in other places, whether it’s finance or it’s entertainment or it’s science or it’s academics or it’s politics —there are environments that we need people to be willing to take risks in, to respond to what God is doing because what we found is God was already there.”
Check out pubtheology.com and meet Daron at The Multiply Conference 2018. Get challenged, inspired, & discover life on mission.