In pursuit of a dream I share with my two brothers (to someday open a Monastery Microbrewery and Pub), I’ve been studying the American beer industry a lot lately. It didn’t take long for me to see parallels with the church:
- Major Breweries & Mega Churches. There are only a few of these in the US, but they’re the ones everyone knows about. They seem to emphasize a bland sort of consistency, and there aren’t a whole lot of differences from one brand to another, so they rely heavily on image and marketing to “attract” consumers. They are run by highly paid professionals, and often family dynasties. By trying to please everyone and offend no one, they strip the soul out of their heritage. The “bottom line” (money or numbers) is the ultimate measure of success. They’re also the most likely to be seen on television.
- Microbreweries & Local Churches. These are more connected to their communities, and their supporters are fairly passionate about them, but many are still too preoccupied with numbers. Some are trying hard to move up to the next category. Reputations are built by word of mouth and limited advertising. In general, they are still managed by professionals, but they often celebrate their uniqueness and heritage.
- Brewpubs & Emerging Churches. These are hard to put in a box – each one has its own distinct character and approach. They are willing to experiment greatly, but still within an established set of boundaries. They are highly focused on serving their segment of the community, often located in urban districts, and inspire intense loyalty among their young, trendy supporters. Often managed by jack-of-all-trades types who definitely “drink their own brew.” Most are relatively new to the scene, so heritage is not a big deal, but diversity and flare are important.
- Homebrewers & House Churches. These are the most experimental, and usually the most passionate (and knowledgeable) about what they do. Amateurs not only run the show, but *are* the show, and readily share information and resources with each other through loose networks and affiliations. They’re a little bit hard to find, unless you have the right connections with the underground. With no controlling authority, there is infinite variety and possibility, however, they often share common methods and philosophies with the very first practitioners from the ancient past.
I’m curious to know if this latest metaphor rises to the “bar,” or if it’s just a lot of froth and foam. As always, you’re encouraged to pull up a stool and share your thoughts with the bartender. If your comments start to get incoherent, I’ll call you a cab.
Other Posts in the “Odd Church Metaphor” series: