A church-based beer club? Was I out of my mind? I could not find any others in existence. I knew that the idea could not be all that original yet where they? To that end I want to share with you the surprisingly easy process of getting it all together.
I have always believed that if the Church is going to have any chance at continued relevance it needs to connect with people where they are. While this is sometimes simply a matter of bringing Church out into the community (not surprisingly pubs definitely make this list) it is also a matter of creating opportunities for people to bring their lives and interests into the context of Church. It seemed only natural that the love of beer should fall into this category. It was in this spirit our club, dubbed The Franklin Society (from his famous quote, “Beer if living proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.”) was conceived.
Anyway, when I presented the idea to our parish board (called a Vestry) they had no problem with it. In fact, it was first suggested by a vestry member one of our meetings. But when I announced it to the whole church in our newsletter, I was expecting much more resistance and concern. I was surprised to find only two such responses. Sadly, one person was so upset that they withdrew from the parish. The other had some questions which I was able to answer satisfactorily. In the several years of our existence the group has attracted new members, some of them from the parish, others from the community.
But the real question seems to be, where does the Almighty stand on the subject? Well there are no overt Biblical references to beer but plenty to wine and a few to “strong drink.” But to cut to the chase, the prohibitions and restrictions that are so often used to attack alcohol all have to do with getting drunk as opposed to drinking. Only in a few special cases (like Sampson- see Judges 13) is drinking altogether prohibited. But if we think about it, these biblical prohibitions against drunkenness make sense since nasty things (like murder and rape) tend to happen in the stories as a result of influence of alcohol. Those of us (myself included) who have had a few too many, can most likely point to a number of things we have done under the influence that we later regret when sober. Yet the casual and social drinking of alcohol is mentioned without condemnation many times and receives the tacit endorsement of no less a personage than Jesus himself as seen in his first miracle of turning water into wine at a wedding in Cana.
This leads to a very simple yet profound understanding, namely that God wants us to embrace life. Pleasures like food, sex, dancing and alcohol (including beer) are gifts of God given for our enjoyment. The trick is coming to understand the correct context and quantity in which we might partake of them. The old adage, “All things in moderation” proves to be a very sound theological principal. Given that we take great pains to make sure that no one drinks too much at our meetings (thus allowing for responsible behavior and safe driving) our church beer club is not only not contrary to the Bible, but in fact it is in keeping with our spiritual journey.
I know this has little to do with beer per se but I wanted to share with you all the joy of The Franklin Society and the process by which it came to be. I would love to see more such clubs springing up in months and years to come. If you manage to start one or have questions about the same, please let me know.
BTW- our logo (courtesy Brian Biggs of mrbiggs.com) is serving as the wallpaper for the blog.