Have you ever thought of the similarities of the local church and the neighborhood bar?
In both places:
…people come looking for fellowship;
…people go where others know their name;
…people go where they are accepted;
…people go where their spirits will be lifted;
…people are united around one theme;
…people go where they like the music.
Like a priest or pastor, the bartender serves by listening to people’s troubles. But the differences are profound. The bar is centered on booze and the church is centered on Jesus Christ. The bar offers a way to escape problems. The church offers a way to face them, get through them, and overcome them. The spirit inside the bar lowers one’s guard when it comes to temptation and sin. The spirit of the true church encourages people to turn from sin and turn to God.
The bar may be a substitute for the environment of the church, but it never comes close to providing the meaning and purpose found in a Christ-centered church.