Why ‘Faith on Draft’?

Published 2:58 pm Monday, October 22, 2018

Charles Qualls

Those of us who watched the ’80’s TV sitcom, “Cheers,” remember its premise. A neighborhood bar in Boston had become a regular gathering spot, which as the theme song told us was also a place “…where everybody knows your name.” One character in particular would regularly walk in and nearly everyone in the room would yell his name, “Norm!”

The only way to explain the 11 seasons, the 31 Emmy wins and six Golden Globe awards is to observe that there might be a small part in all of us that connects with the show’s premise. That is, we all long for a place where we feel welcomed, almost as though at home.

As a pastor, my first choice for such a place would be a church. Sunday by Sunday, I marvel at the health of our fellowship. People are genuinely glad to welcome each other. But in our city, Fred’s restaurant downtown might be another such place.

On Nov. 1, we are beginning a faith discussion fellowship upstairs at Fred’s called “Faith on Draft.” To keep you informed, yet safe, we have created a special Facebook closed group called Faith on Draft Franklin. Look us up and ask to join.

Cue up all the usual stereotypes about Baptists. I know that this will surprise folks that Franklin Baptist is doing such a thing. Then again, we are aligned denominationally with the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship. We have always been a little different.

Faith on Draft will meet once a month on the first Thursday night at 6:30. If you want dinner, come early or stay after to eat downstairs. But if you want to relax with friends and have your favorite beverage, come on upstairs. We’ll have a topic to discuss each month. Things of the faith that perplex, challenge or otherwise matter to us.

Faith on Draft will be a safe place. It will be an atmosphere where no one is trying to persuade each other of anything. But, beliefs and questions will be taken seriously. Ideas will be exchanged. Maybe we’ll learn from each other.

What might we find ourselves discussing? The possibilities are endless. Here are a few examples, though: “If I pray — what really happens? Where does God’s sovereignty end and where does nature pick up? How do you reconcile the issues between science and religion? Does God have limitations? Was Jesus fully human, fully divine or a mixture of both? How can God be three beings in one?”

We realize that Faith on Draft won’t be for everyone. Some will question why we would gather in a bar? The answer would be because we are commissioned to not sit inside the walls of the church and hope people wander in. Others will wonder just why we would “encourage” drinking? We won’t actually. But, it’ll be a place where folks can relax with a beverage if they want to. Besides, our Lord wasn’t exactly handing out Welch’s grape juice in the upper room that night.

Some will think that we’ve taken the whole “Be ye in the world but not of it…” teaching a little too far. I may not be able to get that all sorted out for everyone. If those are your concerns, I’d love to talk with you.

As I’ve run the notion of Faith on Draft by many of our leaders, as well as our Visioning Committee, our Discipleship Team leadership and the deacons, it has met with enthusiasm. Literally, not one concern or reservation has been voiced here.

That tells me something. Groups like this are springing up all over our nation. The support here at Franklin Baptist for going out to Fred’s and offering a stimulating forum for theological searching is noticeable. We are excited.

If this appeals to you, there is nothing for you to do but show up. Maybe help us spread the word. Thursday, Nov. 1 at Fred’s, we’ll start upstairs at 6:30 p.m. Food and drink will be on you, but I think the conversation will be priceless. Sure hope to see you there!

THE REV. DR. CHARLES QUALLS is senior pastor at Franklin Baptist Church. Contact him at 562-5135.