Back in December I went to see the Aaron Pelsue Band (often a worship band) play at the Vogue (a local bar and music venue) along with several other hard rock bands. It would probably be difficult for me to describe the atmosphere there. The first band on the bill was a bit rougher in the sense that they were cussing a lot and the singer had a painted face. APB followed this first group. Aaron and his band are pros, so it was no surprise that they sounded good. The highlight of their set was when they played a couple of different Christmas hymns in their style of rock. Normally you’d think hymns would be out of place in a bar. But here, right before Christmas, it made perfect sense. I loved it! I mean, how cool and how appropriate?
I had several other thoughts during APB’s set. I thought it was interesting that, though they are quite popular with Christians in the area, it didn’t seem like many of these people showed up to the concert. I’m not sure what to make of this. The irony is that I am significantly more likely to go see APB play at a bar than at a church. Conversely, it seems that most of the Christians I know seem more likely to see them at a church than a bar.
I realized that what I loved about APB at a bar is the lack of pretense. At church, you’re so limited in what you can do. Basically, in most evangelical worship services, everyone is expected to sit or stand in their seat and sing along to every song. If you don’t, you will seem out of place and at least some people are likely to think there is something wrong with you. But at the bar it doesn’t matter. You can sing if you want. You can just watch. You can ignore the band if you so desire. You can drink a beer and cuss, and no one will really think anything about it. I love this idea. I think church should be more like this. More honest, real, open, and down to earth.
Another idea which stuck me as an important truth is this: Jesus is for the people. Being there in the middle of the Vogue, singing about Jesus, it seemed so clear. We fall into the trap of thinking that the organized church institutions are the guardians of Jesus. We think that we’re the ones who have Jesus, and people should and must come to us to get to Jesus. But I don’t think this is much like Jesus in the Bible. His birth was announced to some random blue collar workers (the shepherds). Most of his ministry happened outside of Jerusalem, the center of religion at the time. And he spent a notable amount of time socializing with people who drank too much and women who were promiscuous and with people who cheated.