Joy Community Church takes its message to a local bar
By: Amy Armour
Church at the Bar had its start in September 2012 as the opening act for Dr. Zhevegas at Brewskeez bar in O’Fallon.
Church at the Bar is not a band — but literally a church service held at a bar at 7 p.m. on Wednesday nights.
David Rispoli, an ordained Lutheran pastor at Joy Community Church, has brought a church service to the bar and everyone is welcome. Customers at Brewskees on Wednesday nights can expect live entertainment from the Joy Community Church Band, along with a message from its pastor.
Don Telge, member of Joy Community Church, said the 45-minute service includes three upbeat songs from the band, a short prayer, a message from the pastor and a song to close the service.
“We just want to touch as many people as we can,” Telge said. “If one person devotes themselves to God, it’s all worth it.”
Rispoli chose Brewskeez for the location of Church at the Bar because it was built for sound and entertainment.
“They have a phenomenal sound system, a great stage and professional lighting. People go to Brewskeez to have fun, and we wanted a bar venue where people like to have fun,” said Rispoli.
Rispoli said the owner of Brewskeez welcomed them with open arms.
“Russ (the owner) had his beer distributor make Church at the Bar table tents with the information about the service and has included it on the bars Facebook page and bar chalkboard,” Rispoli said. “The staff at Brewskeez has been wonderful to work with and they are also enjoying the service.”
Rispoli came to St. Louis in 1997 from Hanover, Penn., to start Joy Community Church. The church is a Lutheran Congregation that is part of the Lutheran Congregations in Mission for Christ denomination. Located in St. Peters, the church currently has a congregation of about 89 families.
Rispoli said the Church at the Bar is not an attempt to get more members or money for Joy Community Church.
“We absolutely do not take an offering at this service. Sometimes people try to give us money, I tell them to buy me a beer,” Rispoli said.
Rispoli said the goal at this service is to share a positive message of God’s love with people who, for whatever reason, don’t or won’t come to church on a Sunday morning.
“We share a message that God is for us and not against us and that we can have a friendship with this God through a relationship with his son, Jesus,” said Rispoli. “It is our intent to share a message of Good News and Hope with people who are struggling with their jobs, their kids, their marriages, their health, and everything else that all of us struggle with.”
Rispoli also hopes to change way some people view a church as a judgmental, hypocritical and irrelevant place.
“We wanted to have a service in a non-threatening environment where people would not be judged and where they would be accepted where they are in their own journey,” said Rispoli.
So far, the services have received phenomenal reviews, Rispoli said.
“People are coming and then coming back and bringing friends,” Rispoli said.
“There have been no hecklers,” said Telge.
Joy Community Church currently meets at 10 a.m. on Sundays at Francis Howell Middle School. The church will have a permanent location on April 7 at 810 Westwood Industrial Park Drive in Weldon Spring. Joy Community Church will be sharing a facility with St. Charles River Church.
“The truth is there is a God and He cares. If one person gets that message, then we have accomplished our mission. We do all of this while having a really good time,” Rispoli said.