Resident Matt Martin loves Jesus, and beer. That’s why he combined both into a men’s devotional study group he formed over the weekend where men can study together, all while enjoying a cold one.
The Monday Night Brews – Men’s Craft Beer Group is an effort by Martin for other men to bond over the things they cherish the most: the Bible and beer.
Attendants bring two craft beers to a meeting to share with each other. Then, the group goes into a short passage reading where they discuss and share their thoughts on the scripture’s message.
Of course, Martin said it is possible the conversation can move into another topic such as Monday Night Football. And if it does, Martin said that’s okay.
“It’s an organic environment where nothing is forced,” Martin explained. “We go where the conversation goes. And I do believe that the conversation will often find what matters most in life.”
Martin described himself as a veteran of small church groups. He expressed that some small groups can be forced, awkward and ineffective when it comes to the ministry for the Kingdom. He also noted that people could walk in and out of a church without having a real conversation with anyone and that the group provides a genuine connection to occur.
Then he read a statistic that claimed 90 percent of small groups do not create a single disciple. That was when Martin decided to try something different.
“I read an article about how Bible studies are popping up at breweries all over the country,” Martin relayed. “So I decided to just go for it and create a group where a common interest brings a bunch of men together, outside of the church, without the stereotypical Christianized lingo.”
The Monday Night Brews – Men’s Craft Beer Group locations vary from week-to-week. In fact, the first meeting in Martin's backyard Monday night. Eight men showed up to the meeting, and five more signed up to attend future meetings.
With members surrounded by lawn chairs, a porch table and a cooler full of craft beer, Martin said a casual setting is essential so attendants could comfortably be themselves.
“A church setting often prohibits people from sharing what they truly think, out of fear of judgment from fellow believers,” Martin said. “Ministry is really done outside the church walls, investing in the lives of those around us. A casual setting is more inviting for people to be who they really are.”
Martin said he wants participants to have the freedom and trust to bring up any issues they are experiencing, from abuse to sex to pornography. Martin said he encourages the men to talk about all the "B.S." that’s on their minds.
“Yes, you can say that word in our group,” he said.
Even though some people might have a problem with the group structure, Martin said he’s more concerned with men’s hearts than he is with what they say. He cited a quote by Dr. Tony Campolo - a sociologist, pastor and former spiritual advisor to President Bill Clinton - to explain his rationale.
“First, while you were sleeping last night, 30,000 kids died of starvation or diseases related to malnutrition,” Campolo is quoted in Christianity Today magazine. “Second, most of you don't give a s***. What's worse is that you're more upset with the fact that I said s*** than the fact that 30,000 kids died last night."
Although the group is more flexible compared to other devotional groups, there are still some rules members have to abide by before they participate. For one thing, consumption is strictly limited to either two beers or one bomber. Liquor is also prohibited, as well as consuming alcohol beforehand.
Martin said scripture is clear in condemning drunkenness, and he recognizes that too much alcohol can distract men from what’s really important.
“I recognize that each man has different limits when it comes to alcohol,” he explained. “But to keep it simple for all of us and protect the group from lawsuits, it’s two beers per person. We’re here to build relationships, and too much beer gets in the way of that.”
While the group is exclusive to men, Martin said the group is not exclusive to Christians. Although most of the members do believe Jesus offers the best life they can live, Martin said they respect and welcome all viewpoints into the group.
“We’re not here to preach at you or convert you,” he said. “We hope we can encourage and inspire you and that you can do the same for us, with beers in hand.”
Future meetings will be at 8 p.m. Monday at a disclosed location. Men interested in the group can email firstname.lastname@example.org to join.
David Dunn, @DavidDunnInTX