Rev. Brent Barry received an e-mail from a friend recently. In the midst of the message, the friend referred to Barry’s latest ministry, Faith on Tap, which takes place monthly at neighborhood bar Bailey’s First & 10. The friend said: “I would think you would want to be above reproach.”
Barry sighs. “It was one of those days,” he says, explaining that he couldn’t help retorting: “As soon as Jesus gets out of the bar, I’ll leave, too.”
“Jesus is in the midst of our liturgy in our traditional worship services, but Jesus also goes into the bars,” Barry says. “We believe that faith is in all areas of life. There’s no part of life that Jesus can’t touch.”
Faith on Tap started as a Sunday school class at Northridge Presbyterian Church when Barry was a minister there. (He’s now in between assignments.) It was a study of U2 music in the context of faith, and as the discussion continued, Barry began to believe that the topic would appeal to people who don’t attend church.
Faith on Tap attracts everyone from people who don’t know what they believe to people who regularly attend Northridge and other churches. Barry, 43, says he originally did it for people in his generation, “but what I found is we’re all too busy.” Most of the attendees are either younger or older, and most of them live in either Lakewood or Lake Highlands because the organizers — Barry, Shane Whisler, Tom Byrne and John Kenny — live in those two neighborhoods.
The gatherings weave together music, history, Bible study and some sort of liturgy. After studying U2, Faith on Tap expanded to other music — Coldplay, Johnny Cash, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Indigo Girls, Bruce Springsteen. Barry has found that changing the setting has changed the conversation. “People, when they go to church, are trying to be their best selves,” he says. In the bar, “questions are much more human and honest, and struggles are much more with the stuff of life instead of high theological questions.”
If you’re interested in seeing what Faith on Tap is all about, mark your calendar for the next session on Nov. 17 — a study of Coldplay from the perspective of Psalm 30 — or plan to attend Lake Highlands Presbyterian Church the first three Sundays in December, when Barry and Whisler will be leading a Faith on Tap series at 9:45 a.m. before the worship service.