We moved to Denison, Kansas in December of 2020. It was an exciting move since this meant the beginning of my pastoral ministry (something I had been working toward for 12 years). This was the first time we would be over one thousand miles from any family. But this move also included moving away from all our friends and building new friendships locally. In addition, I was transitioning from working outside the home to working from home. Given my outgoing personality and felt need to socialize, having to start from scratch left me feeling lonely at times. So, the seeds for the Bible study would be planted as I sought a remedy for my own need for social interactions.
After being in Denison for a few weeks, it became clear to me that I needed more socializing opportunities. At first, I was not thinking of starting an evangelistic ministry there. Although the thought of such a ministry had been planted in my mind a few years prior when I learned about Rev. Martin’s evangelistic outreach in one of his local bars. However, my first priority at this time was solving my own mental health needs for social interaction. The Lord clearly had plans to take my socializing need and turn it into an evangelistic outreach. I am very grateful He did.
Now, for those unfamiliar with Denison, Kansas. The local population is about 175 (including the farms surrounding the city). The manse is located on the main street going through town and just outside of the business district. Finer Than a Frog Hair Bar & Grill, as it is now called, sits one block away from the manse. A block here is about three houses, but the block that transitions from the business district into the residential district is a little bigger. The Denison RP Church sits on the opposite end of town right off of the main road.
It occurred to me that I could walk to the Bar and chat with people there. I had noticed that the Bar parking lot was rather empty in the early afternoon, thus decided that would be a good time to go and chat while also not keeping the employees from their work. So roughly around 3pm, I started heading down for a drink (normally a Mountain Dew). I made the “long trek” to the Bar two or three times a week, and in time developed friendships with nearly every employee and the owner, as well as their families. We chatted about current events, interpretation of Scripture, various social issues, life, work, politics. Pick any topic, the chances are we probably discussed it at some point. Everyone at the Bar soon learned that I was the new pastor in town. As these relationships were formed, I became the source of Biblical knowledge for many workers. Most of the employees do not attend any church, some will occasionally stop into a church. After about 3 months, one of the young ladies working at the Bar suggested that I start a Bible study to address some of their questions more fully. The owner, who was also chatting with us, offered the Bar as our meeting place for this study.
It took me about a month to actually start the study after it was suggested. We picked the night that was not as busy for them and started meeting each week to study the Bible. Attendance fluctuates from week to week. But numerous opportunities have arisen for sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ with people who have had little if any prior exposure to the Gospel. At first, the study was topical and on whichever issue was on their mind from one week to the next. In July, we started going through the Gospel of Luke. It is slow going but proving to be helpful.
One thing I have learned from all of this is that we tend to overthink evangelism. Going door to door can be helpful and welcomed, the more natural way is to weave the Gospel into our day-to-day interactions. Build friendships and share the Gospel out of love for those who have become your friends. Think about the condemnation that awaits all who are outside of Christ, and let that stir you up to bring Christ to them.
Thanks to Caleb Allen for writing this article. Caleb is the pastor of Denison Reformed Presbyterian Church in Denison, Kansas where he lives with his wife (Hannah), and 4 kids (Tobias, Everett, Silas, & Aliza).