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To Club or not to Club?

Helen Blakey, 24/04/20

Should a Christian go to pubs or clubs? As a Christian student, you will probably have to navigate that question at some stage during your uni/college life. CUI doesn’t hold to a particular stance on this issue, but Connacht Staffworker Helen Blakey helps us explore more in light of what the Bible says, before sharing some real stories from the campuses, and some questions to consider.

To Club or not to Club?

Are you even a ‘real Christian‘ if you are willing to participate in pubbing and clubbing?

Do you care about evangelism if you aren’t in places like this with friends who don’t know Jesus?

These arguments tend to be narrow and judgmental towards an opposing view.  Questions that don’t really want answers, because the person asking is so convinced.

The case for

Some Christians in favour of going to pubs and clubs argue that Jesus’ example was spending time with sinners and going to the places they went. Yet, Jesus’ love for people never condoned or encouraged sinful attitudes or behaviour. He is the perfect example of love and holiness!

The case against 

Pubbing and clubbing may be associated with excessive alcohol. The Bible doesn’t prohibit drinking alcohol but warns against drunkenness. Ephesians 5.18 says “Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit.” Paul taught that drunkenness leads to a lack of self–control. That is the opposite of the fruit of the spirit in our lives.

Some Christians might ask “Why put yourself in a place of temptation like that?” We must take sin seriously and be realistic about our struggles with temptation. However, these are not limited to specific physical locations. They are, in fact, a war in our hearts; between worshiping God or ourselves. 

Sinful hearts

The temptation to lust could happen watching a Netflix show as much as in a club. The desire for recognition at another’s expense is no less likely in church than the pub. We can maintain helpful boundaries while also being aware that temptation doesn’t just exist ‘out there’.

Spirit–filled freedom

The God of the Bible gives life, freedom, and joy. You are free not to go to pubs or clubs because God rescues you from people–pleasing. You can rejoice that some of your Christian brothers and sisters live distinctively in those places. You are free to go to a pub or a club and not get drunk because your identity is in Christ and not your ego. You can rejoice with your brothers and sisters who have decided not to go because they believe that honours God. 

You are free to have accountability with your Christian community who can lovingly encourage you to live a life worthy of the Gospel. You can rejoice that God uses others to point you to him. You are free to stand outside a club at 2am and give out hot drinks and toast, or to join a Street Pastors team covering the student night out, because you know how Christ has loved you, and you want to love others in that way. You can rejoice that you are a sinner brought from darkness into light.

A bigger question and a bigger calling

2 Corinthians 5 shows Christ’s love for people, his desire for them to be reconciled to God and to become new creations. Through Christ’s work, God does not count peoples’ sins against them. The passage encourages us that anyone who belongs to Christ should not live for themselves but for Him, and his ministry of reconciliation.

11 Since, then, we know what it is to fear the Lord, we try to persuade others. What we are is plain to God, and I hope it is also plain to your conscience. 12 We are not trying to commend ourselves to you again, but are giving you an opportunity to take pride in us, so that you can answer those who take pride in what is seen rather than in what is in the heart. 13 If we are ‘out of our mind,’ as some say, it is for God; if we are in our right mind, it is for you. 14 For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. 15 And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.

16 So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: the old has gone, the new is here! 18 All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: 19 that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. 20 We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: be reconciled to God. 21 God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

As Christians, we have the great privilege and responsibility of being Christ’s ambassadors. Ambassadors are more than messengers; they are representatives of the sovereign who sends them. They represent Christ and his kingdom. So, the question is no longer primarily “Should I go to pubs or clubs?” It is a much bigger question: “How am I living as an ambassador in this situation?” We need to ask “Is my life serving my kingdom or God’s kingdom?”

So, the question is no longer primarily “Should I go to pubs or clubs?” It is a much bigger question: “How am I living as an ambassador in this situation?

3 brief stories of ambassadors:

Paige from Waterford IT describes clubbing as one of the ways she’s been a witness to her college friends. One close friend noticed that even though Paige loves clubbing, she approaches it differently to others. This friend has been asking Paige questions about her faith and what difference it makes in her life, and started coming to Paige’s church before the lockdown.

Former CUI Team Leader Peter, writes: “I never entered a club in first year.  But it left me with a dilemma.  If all my coursemates would ever talk about is their nights out, how was I to engage with them?  Every day I tried to join their conversations, pay great interest to stuff I had little interest in, and not to laugh at the drunken stories that so often were the theme of the morning after the night before.  Often I wondered why I did it.  But after a few months, one of them noticed.  “You always show such interest and ask questions and join in banter, even when you don’t go on nights out – why do you do it?”  And from there, one of the biggest party animals of the year, started to engage with who Jesus was.  Several months later, after a CU Events Week and a further conversation with a Christian philosophy professor, she started to follow Jesus.”

Staffworker Helen, shares of how something that went on when she was at uni, is still bearing fruit: “When I was at uni, there was a CU weekly outreach called ‘Toastie Bar’. This provided free toasties for those coming out of pubs and clubs, and opportunities to ask questions about the Christian faith or receive prayer. This year, one guy has become a Christian after coming to Toastie Bar every week since Freshers. Each Friday, he engaged with a volunteer in gospel conversations and is now part of a local church. He hopes to volunteer with toastie bar next year and continue sharing about Jesus.”

 

Some questions to consider

If you don’t have an issue going to a pub or club:

  • When you’re there, is your behaviour distinctive from those who don’t know Jesus?
  • What safeguards can you put in place to make sure that your actions are glorifying to God?
  • Can you be in those places and genuinely not be tempted to get drunk/be sexually inappropriate with people? 
  • How can you love your Christian brothers and sisters who disagree with you on this issue? 

If you are unlikely to go to a pub or club:

  • Can I articulate my reason for not going in a way that is gentle and shows people more of who Jesus is?
  • How can I create welcoming community for friends who don’t know Jesus?
  • How can you love your Christian brothers and sisters who disagree with you on this issue?