If you grew up on TV in the 80’s and early 90’s you are most likely VERY well familiar with the sitcom Cheers. You remember the lovable and quirky characters, Sam Malone, the bar’s owner, chief bartender, former baseball player and ladies’ man, who had an on-and-off again relationship with Diane, the grad student. Then there was Rebecca, Cheers owner/manager after a buyout by the company she worked for.
There many ‘wacky’, yet affable characters that filled the bar on a regular basis, as both employees and patrons. There was Carla, the sarcastic waitress, beer-loving accountant Norm, know-it-all postman Cliff. Then there was small-town, and sometimes clueless, Woody Boyd, Frasier Crane, the psychiatrist, Lillian Sternin, an incredibly cold and placid psychiatrist and Coach, who eventually dies.
Cheers was a microcosm of society. Losers, ‘wannabes’, misfits, has-been’s and those who were in search of their true identity and place in life. The theme song for Cheers expressed the feelings of everyone who was caught up in this fish bowl of a bar.
Making your way in the world today takes everything you’ve got.
Taking a break from all your worries, sure would help a lot.
Wouldn’t you like to get away?
Sometimes you want to go
Where everybody knows your name,
and they’re always glad you came.
You wanna be where you can see,
our troubles are all the same
You wanna be where everybody knows
So, what can we learn from Cheers that we could apply in the church today? What lessons could we take from the way the characters in the bar related to each other? What might be missing in the church today that one kind readily find in a bar like Cheers?
I think some of what we could take away is found in the lyric of the Cheers theme song.
Here are what will hopefully be some thought-provoking questions that you could ask of your church, or ministry.
Is the church really a place that folks go to escape the worries of this world, the pressures of every day life, or do people see the church as a place that is full of judgmental and even hateful individuals who are not accepting of someone that thinks differently, dresses differently, or is an outcast of society?
Is the church a place where ‘everybody knows your name’, or are you just a face in the crowd?
Is the church a place where people are ‘really glad you came’?
Is the church a place where we sit down and talk about our troubles? Or, do we come and go and never really dive into life with each other?
It seems that there is more of life that was shared around the bar in Cheers that EVER gets shared within the wall of our churches. Sure, have fellowships, we have programs, we have events and BIG services, but we never just pull a chair, grab a drink, and make people feel like they’re glad they came. We don’t seem to share life the way the characters in the Cheers bar did. They loved each other, they got involved in one another’s lives. When one person hurt, they all hurt. When one person was down, everybody tried whatever they could to cheer them up. They were a family, a close-know family that were well of each others faults and shortcomings, yet loved even still.
They cried together, they celebrated together, and did as Scripture exhorts us to do in Galatians 6:2-3, “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. For if anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself.” Or Romans 15:1-2 says, “We who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves. Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to build him up.”
One thing you quickly notice about the characters in Cheers, they do share in each others lives and are genuinely concerned for the welfare of others. Do we do that in our churches today or do just shuffle in and out of our building never