I meet with a group of progressive Christians at a restaurant or pub from time to time to discuss spirituality. You never know who is going to show up! Last week, eight people came, representing a continuum from conservative evangelical to avowed atheist and everything in between. My friend Jonathan, said, "I live for this kind of discussion!"
These type of meet ups are critical to build bridges in the religious community. No one is trying to convert the other and everyone's perspective is respected, although also occasionally challenged in good faith. These meetings are foreign to my days in my evangelical enclave, where people were content to build an alternate moralistic universe (where everyone basically believes the same way) to protect themselves from the "world."
So during the conversation, a guy name James announces, "I go to a Foursquare church and wanted to get outside the walls, so started Church on Tap. Our group gets together at a different microbrewery every month to encourage each other and share our love for good brew."
If you know about my new book, you'll know both of these meetings sound familiar. At the end of each chapter, which deals with a hot-topic issue, friends and I discuss it over a couple of microbrews. I believe these types of organic groups are key to the future of Christianity and a way of building bridges with others of various spiritual stripes. Meeting at microbreweries is just one of a myriad of ideas. The important thing is to get outside (and in some cases, out from under) the church structure.
Our progressive Seattle Meetup and Church on Tap are good examples of an emerging trend. I'll drink to that! Will you join me?