This Monday, I shot pool and ate a cheeseburger for lunch with the Barstool Pastor.
Jeff Hathcock and his wife are Lake Forest peeps. And wicked good pool players - they just qualified for the city championships. They hang out with their friends and other pool players at a neighborhood bar and grill that is a 'members and friends only' kind of place. Jeff's told me about it, so i said 'will you show me your place?' Most prominent upon being buzzed in (phew! I'm considered a friend, they let me in) were: pool table, juke box, nascar memorabilia, pool tourney trophies, a zillion clever bumper stickers about beer all over the bar.
Jeff was led into a vital living faith in Jesus a number of years ago. As he grew in his faith, he began to experience some conflict - should I stop hanging out at the bar with my friends? Then one of the regulars died suddently from cancer. They all asked Jeff to do her funeral (they'd noticed the change in him, that he was somehow a 'man of God', in a good way). So he did - in the bar. Since then he's done three more bar-funerals. And taken a few seminary classes to go deeper in his understanding of the Bible.
It slowly became clear. Jeff and his wife were to still be the same people they already were (pool players, hangers-out-with-people), but just now with the eyes, ears and agenda of Christ - to love. Just like the Apostle Paul, who wrote in I Thessalonians 2:8 We loved you so much that we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well, because you had become so dear to us.
So he is genuinely the barstool pastor (his website is coming soon, for others without a church home whose family and friends are their bar). For Easter Jeff planned a morning service at the bar, and was a bit apologetic to me that he might not make it to Lake Forest. I emphatically told him he was being even more 'Lake Forest-ish' by being there, than by being at Lake Forest that day!
I am proud for Lake Forest Church to give our blessing and hand of encouragement upon the Hathcocks. May we be a church, and may I be a leader, that cheers on Spirit-led experimentation of loving people on the mission of God, that others might come to know the good news of Jesus Christ. Jeff, may your tribe increase. We're glad you're part of the LFC tribe.