An interview with Jim Johnson, author of ‘Crossing the Bar’ recently published in the Billings Gazette begins with a joke that started a few years after Jim bought the Bull ‘n Bear Saloon. “So these two guys walk into a bar and stop in their tracks: One thinks, ‘Oh no, my bartender’s a preacher!’ and the other, ‘Oh no, my pastor’s a bartender…”. Here are a couple snippets from the article, written by Susan Olp.
“Humor often sheds truth on a subject, and in this case the joke was true. Johnson, once a pastor, now owns the Red Lodge establishment. He presides over a different kind of congregation, but much of what he did as a pastor he finds useful both as a barman and, now, as a chaplain.”
“In his book Johnson said one of his goals in writing it was to “bridge the gap between two worlds that are much more alike than either realizes.” That is what ‘Crossing the Bar’ is about…joining God’s work-a-day mission, just as Jesus did. Blessing others by our presence and occasionally unpolished words. Sharing a bit of light in a dark room. Engaging (rather than avoiding) the kind of people Jesus engaged, laughed with and showed compassion to.”
Over the years Jim shared many stories in Church Innovations’ newsletter from interactions with people in his bar. In them Jim captured concrete examples of being missional, examples which encourage all of us to grow in our relationship with God and with people inside and, especially, outside the church.
Read the complete article Pastor-turned-bar owner writes on similarities, differences between bars and churches which appeared in the Faith and Values section of the Billings Gazette on August 27, 2016.
Jim knit many of those newsletter articles into Crossing the Bar which was published by Church Innovations. He continues to be a Church Innovations consultant, chaplain and owner, along with his wife Nancy, of the Bull ‘n Bear Saloon in Red Lodge, Montana.
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