We all know of the rising popularity of “micro-breweries”, but have you heard of “micro-ministries”? I’ve been brewing faith out of my living room with a “micro-ministry” for the past seven years. It’s a little flavor I started called Bibles-N-Brew.
Bibles-N-Brew is a group of Christian men that meet in my living room every other week. Before moving to Hollywood, I worked a year with Catholic Christian Outreach, which specializes in university evangelization. This immensely valuable experience taught me how to build up a group and present the gospel in a clear relatable way. Arriving here, I met many Catholics who never had the blessing of this clear catechesis, so it seemed natural to start a something similar here. It needed a catchy name, and what better way to discuss God than over a beer? Thus “Bibles-N-Brew” was born!
We meet every other Monday night from 7:15 to 9:15pm at my home. We start with a short prayer asking God to send his Holy Spirit upon us and enlighten our minds. Most of our time is spent reading through a book chapter together (nobody ever has the time to read beforehand), pausing for discussion when something strikes us as interesting.
The choice of topic covered and quality of book is very important. We cover the basics of the faith: Why do you need a savior? What is a personal relationship with Christ? What are the sacraments? Encyclicals are great for those already committed to the faith, but aren’t very accessible to those not versed in church language. I recommend some simpler material to get started with:
God has also shown me how important it is to discuss “masculine” topics – blacksmithing, bull-riding and motor oil, right?… No, try chastity, pornography, leadership and fatherhood. We’re living through a crisis of chastity unlike the world has ever seen. The antidote to this is for men to talk candidly about their struggles and lean on each other for support. Some fantastic resources to get discussion going it these areas are:
We’re not just an intellectual study group. We share our weaknesses with one another. It’s important to set the tone, and often this means being the first to share your struggles. We have a seal of confidentiality that what’s shared in the group must stay there. You’ll be surprised at how relieved men look once the ice is broken on difficult subjects. Through our group I’m proud to say that many men have attained a much greater degree of chastity in their lives.
It’s the leaders job to keep a balance between the material and discussion, to keep discussion on track, and to get all the men involved. Be committed to your men! Desire their well-being, pray for them and love them! You may not have the grace for this initially, but pray for it. This may perhaps your greatest opportunity to change the world.
Thirty minutes before we end we pray together. Someone starts in an opening prayer, and in no particular order we speak aloud our intentions. When everyone’s had a chance to go, the prayer leader will close in an Our Father, Hail Mary and Glory Be. Guarantee that you’re done by 9:15pm every night. This is more important than you think. People are busy, and when they see their time is respected, they’re more likely to come back.
Finally of course, we drink beer (in moderation!) while we discuss. Have some snacks too if you can – men are suckers for good food! The rest of the evening is spent socializing and fellowshipping, when we really talk about bull riding and motor oil.
There’s so much more I could say about doing this successfully, such as personal invitations, being well prepared, believing in the material and being organized. But the most important of all is prayer! I spend a lot of time praying for my group, for my men specifically, for what material to study, and that God would bring the right men out. I have a list of “prayer warriors” too, to whom I send a separate e-mail asking for prayers. I like to let them know how the group is going and what they can be praying for. Never underestimate the power of prayer!
On any given night, we’ll have between 5-10 men, out of a core group of around 30. Many members of my group are aspiring actors, writers, directors and musicians. Of course I hope they’ll influence the world for the better, but that’s not why I do it. I do it because we’re called to love each person right where they’re at, simply because God sees them as an irreplaceable gift. Share your love of God and help each other to grow in virtue. Small in the eyes of the world is not small in God’s eyes!
It’s that simple. Anyone can have a “micro ministry” in his living room.
Your group will be different. You know different men, in a different city, with a different culture, and different needs. You’ll need to tailor your group to accommodate those needs. Start by praying. See what God says to you and to whom he leads you. This is going to be His group that He wants to start, and you’re just the tool. However, He needs you to be the Leader of this group and to make it happen – so do it!
Mark J. Matthews – our Hollywood Undercover Missionary @HUMissionary
Mark Matthews is a graphic designer and animator working in Hollywood. Listen to his “What’s Good About Hollywood?” column once a month on the SLHour.