I created a Holy Hops group in my community. If you’re not familiar with what Holy Hops is, I will explain. It is a group that gathers to hold church services in the nontraditional setting of bars and pubs. Normally those gathered drink beer or wine together during the service. The services are normally very simple.
The Holy Hops group I put together in Greenville follows an extremely simple format. It is either a Holy Hops event or a Holy Hops Hymnsing. On Holy Hops days we gather, say an opening prayer, and then there is a discussion which follows over dinner or drinks. At a Holy Hops Hymnsing, we say an opening prayer and then sing hymns together, also over dinner.
Holy Hops is a great way to get folks who are otherwise closed to participating in services to open up and take leadership goals. The bar environment is more comfortable for them, and the small setting means they don’t feel pressured to perform the same way they might in front of a whole congregation.
By making this “Greenville Holy Hops” instead of “St. Paul’s Holy Hops,” it makes the scope extend beyond the immediate parish setting and opens it to a broader range of people who might otherwise never darken the doorstep of a church.
An important note: Holy Hops attracted a younger crowd and as such it was more important to do the work of inviting and gathering RSVPs by social media instead of traditional means. This meant eye-catching advertisements like the above on local Events social media pages and far more text messages than church newsletter responses.
As we approached Christmas, we decided to make our December Holy Hops Hymnsing into a Wassailing event. Wassailing is an ancient English tradition that included imbibing alcohol, traveling from house to house, and singing carols.
Here’s the link to the Wikipedia article about Wassailing if you want to learn more about the tradition beyond how I adapted it.
Instead of traveling from home to home, we created a kind of pub crawl, traveling from pub to pub in our downtown area and sang Advent and Christmas hymns between each bar that we hit, finally settling down at a restaurant for dinner at the end. It was great fun. In addition to the Holy Hops core group, I broadcast it to the wider community and several new people joined us for that event. The knitting / prayer shawl ministry at my church also got involved, as I conscripted them to knit red and green scarves for us to wear to ward off the winter chill.
Here is a link to a typical Holy Hops service as well as the Holy Hops Wassailing program. I had a little trouble converting the file for the Wassailing one. Please feel free to make use of the format of either as well as the prayers contained.