It took a trip to Bosnia for Daron Earlewine to launch a new ministry in America.
“The coffee shops become pubs in the evening,” he says. “At midnight they close and all the adults go to dance clubs. It dawned on me the same thing happens in every town in America—adults are gathering at bars and clubs. And if we could find a way to ‘own’ those rooms, we could impact thousands of people.”
Earlewine, then on staff at East 91st Street Christian Church in Indianapolis, also played drums in a rock band. He suggested they try to get booked in a local bar, and in the spring of 2009 they held their first Pub Theology event.
“It was pretty simple, actually,” Earlewine says. “We played music, introduced a charity, and took donations, did a two-minute teaching time, and invited people to anonymously text me questions about God and faith, which I answered on the spot.”
Monthly events became weekly. A DJ or acoustic singer-
songwriter now provides the music, giving Earlewine more time to talk with people who attend without “trying to have a meaningful conversation over screaming guitars.” He expanded the teaching time to five minutes, includes games and giveaways, and continues interviewing leaders of charities and answering text questions.
“Of course, there’s been some pushback,” he says. “I’ve had many meetings with our elders who support it but are wary of glorifying drinking. But when they attend our gatherings or hear stories of life change and baptisms, they realize we’re reaching people we might never reach otherwise.”
Earlewine has also developed a friendship with one of Indy’s top morning radio DJs, and twice a month he’s live on the show to answer questions about God and life during “Therapy Thursday.”
“It’s amazing what happens when we step out to the fringes,” he says. “I had no idea the impact we would have on the lives of people who were far from God. We’re taking the gospel to the everyday places of people’s lives and surprising them with his love.”