Fort Worth Group Holds ‘Church’ Inside A Bar

FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) – You can find church groups who meet inside homes, coffee shops and even renovated theaters. But inside a bar? That’s where one Fort Worth group meets every Sunday for church.

While they may reach those who’re more comfortable on a bar stool than in a pew, does it go too far?

The group meets at Mambo’s, a typical, little blues bar in downtown Fort Worth.

On this night, a man begins the service strumming a guitar and softly singing “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing”, an 18th Century Christian Hymn.

People begin to file in and take their seats and order drinks.

Neil Christopher, 36, is their leader. He’s the son of a pastor in the Assemblies of God Church… a church he left behind.

“I grew up in the church. I didn’t like some of the things that I saw. I thought people were being mistreated,” he said.

Christopher rebelled but became the prodigal son who regained his faith, inside a Buddhist temple.

“I was trying to find enlightenment,” he recalled. “And instead, I came to the realization I believed in Christ.”

The church in a bar grew out of a monthly Christian music night.

“People asked that we do it more often. [So] we started to meet twice a month instead of once a month,” explained Christopher.

The emergent church was christened “Kyrie.” He explained that, “Kyrie is short for Kyrie Elesion, which is actually Greek for Lord have mercy.”

The church has drawn in people like 27-year-old Aston Vongh-Wallace. “When I was younger, I was raised in a Baptist church. But, that just never felt comfortable? So, I haven’t gone back since I was, like, 13.”

Churchgoer David Njus is 69. “We first found out about this, I couldn’t believe coming to church in a bar. I said this is really weird,” he recalled.

Njus, who’s Lutheran, believes in Kyrie now but doesn’t call it church. He already has one of those that he goes to every Sunday.

“I don’t think of this as a church. I think it’s an outreach,” Njus said.

Speaking to his flock from the stage, Christopher told them, “We have atheists, we have Buddhists, Daoists, [and] we have people who are spiritual and not religious.”

Asked if he was a born again Christian, Christopher said, “I don’t use that term anymore. So if people ask, I say No.”

Christopher, who is referred to as Pastor Neil, is an ordained minister, but he still smokes and drinks. He doesn’t think Jesus would mind.

He told the people at the bar that night, “I think He would share a beer with me. He’d make it out of water!”

So, Pastor Neil partakes before, during and after the service. For transparency sake, Pastor Neil was asked how many beers he’d consumed in the course of the evening. “Four?” he said.

Asked if that was typical, he said, “I cut myself off around 3 or 4.”

That’s more than the typical sip of communion wine. But then again, Pastor Neil doesn’t embrace convention, a literal interpretation of the bible, a literal heaven or a literal hell.

“I personally don’t believe in a God that would send anybody to hell,” he said.

Pastor Neil Christopher doesn’t accept a salary. On this night, he held the offering plate, asking it to remain empty except for thoughts of how to help someone.

“Is there a homeless person you maybe walk by that needs some food?” he asked the crowd.

The most important time of the service, he said, is “the sharing of the peace.” It’s the end of the service really, when people can visit with each other then go home, which some may argue typical churches do without the open bar.

Click here to find out more about Kyrie.

Other local pastors declined to comment on Kyrie, but you can leave your own comments below.

  • Carl Nutt

    Amen More power to you

  • Charlie

    I am sorry folks, but I see a cult not a Christian based church here. Read your Bible and get out while you can.

    • Claire Marlatt

      There is nothing cultish about it… Cult: A system of religious veneration and devotion directed toward a particular figure or object. Kyrie is the opposite of that.

    • Elliott Ross

      James, you are correct in saying Kyrie is not a Christian based church. It is not a church at all, in fact. Neil Christopher, in an interview last month, stated it was definitely NOT a church at a bar – he considered it a spiritual gathering. With this fact in mind, the question isn’t so much Neil’s credibility as a pastor, or Kyrie’s validity as a church, but rather, Carol Cavasos’ integrity as a journalist.

      • Elliott Ross

        Sorry, Charlie – I meant this comment for James’ thread

    • Shane

      Charilie, I do not know if you know what a Cult is.
      There is a controling leader involved that controls the peopls and their personal lives…I have seen more cultish behavoir from fundamentalist/Evangelical Pastors guilting people into giving money less God “curse” them, not to mention keeping track of peoples giving…among other things…manipulation. Kyrie does not come off as guilting, manipulation or controlling anyone

    • Pastor's Kid

      Maybe if you read YOUR bible then you would see that this man is extremely Christlike. Jesus hung out with prostitutes and tax collectors. He lived among sinners, and sacrificed himself for the good of all. This man is not paid a salary, and instead of the traditional offering, asks people to help others. He sincerely seems to care for the good of others above himself, and that’s what its all about.

      • Dee

        He also was angry when His disciples were trying to keep the little children from Him. So, how do you think Christ would feel about having a meeting place where children are forbidden from entering? This is obviously not a church if families are not able to attend.

      • dfwman

        I agree that he lived among sinners, but he did not partake in their sins to “fit in” with them. He brought them the Truth, which is what we are commended to do to this day. What this guy is doing makes a mockery of the Christian faith. We would all do well if we realized we need to conform our lives to the Bible instead of trying to conform what the bible says to fit our chosen lifesyles.

      • Shane

        DFW man…who’s partaking in sins and what makes you think anyone is “tryinIg” to fit in… I think he is just being who he is and naturally letting the life of Christ live through him.
        Jesus never brought truth but he WAS the Truth….the Word made flesh…it is NOT “telling telling the “truth” that sets people free is is *knowing* the Truth.
        Where does the bible even mention “conforming to the bible”…you will not find that even one place in scripture…scripture does not lead you and leave you with the bible… it is intended to point to Christ… if you are obsessed with the bible and forgeting about God as you did in you post, DFW man then you are missing the who point of why Jesus came… its not about worshiping a text that you approach as a rule book but about worshiping God and living in the way of Jesus. If anyone makes a mockery of the Christian faith dfwman, it is you in using shallow phrases that mean nothing and have nosubstance as ” conforming to a bible”… like I said no where in scripture does it say to conform to a text…

  • Mary Miller

    It breaks my heart to hear a story like this. I was raised in the A/G and still attend there. This young man has found nothing that will benefit him or anyone else. On the contrary, he is leading people down a pathway that will bring nothing but heartache. I serve God out of deep reverence and love, not fear. When I leave this world, I will be sober and trying to help others to heaven. God bless.

    • Ricky Herd

      Well jesus turned water to wine,and his followers drank.You are WAAAY too judgemental!

      • James

        No one is judging here, but simply relying on the facts stated in the Bible.

      • Shane

        The bible is not a book of facts James…its not about facts but about the life of Christ… The Pharisee’s viewed scripture as a fact book but totally mised Jesus ” You search the scriptures but totally miss who I am who is in front of you” – Jesus Being you are more about info than about life, you are getting the “facts” all wrong anyway

    • Jer

      What does it matter if they drink… need to worry about your own soul and let other worry about theirs….in other words mind your own business

  • Dwayne

    So is the beer tax free? That’ll draw a crowd.

  • Keith Mitchell

    The so called Pastor of the so called church saiid that he didn’t believe in a God That would send people to hell. I think he should read his bible. He say’s he is a christian. If this is true and he believes Gods Word then he would know that there is a such place as hell. God doesn’t send them there. People make a choice not to serve God and they send themselves to hell. As for as the Church in the bar goes. I think that it disrespects the Lord. And everything that the Lord stands for. A man of God should set an example to his flock..What’s next when he out grows that building is he going to move into a strip club..c’mon the house of God is a sacred place..get real!!

    • Linda

      Amen! Well said

    • Elizabeth June Pruden

      He is not a “so called” pastor. Neil has a masters and years of study to be a minister.. Just because he doesn’t believe in hell doesn’t mean he is wrong, many people don’t believe in hell. I think everyone can have their own opinion, but he is a pastor and you do not get to say he is not because you don’t share his beliefs.

      As far as it being in a church i think it is good, who cares how people are reached by the Holy Spirt just as long as they are. “Wherever two or more are gathered in my name I am among them “Matthew 18:20

      • Elizabeth June Pruden

        He is a christian, an ELCA lutheran to be exact. For christians you are so judging. I guess you never talked back to your parents or were jealous of something a friend had. Also my church just had a wine and cheese mixer where we discussed god. We are in a traditional building, does that make us wrong? No it doesn’t. I have read my bible and so has he. The bible was written by man. He didn’t say he didn’t believe in hellish things such as temptation (which i am sure perfect christians such as yourself have never fallen captive to.) Why does it bother you so much that people are being reached by god. Why does it matter how they’re being reached? The holy spirit works in ways we can not understand. it is an outreach, a blessing. I dont believe in hell either, jesus died for our sins. He is an AMAZING man, he is an AMAZING pastor, I was blessed by getting to work with him at my current church, I was blessed with seeing him work and touch youth who were struggling.

        He IS a christian, He is a pastor, and this is truly god work at hand.

      • Old Sarge

        But since his “church” (an acceptable term since the Greek actually means “called out” and often referred to secular meetings such as a town hall meeting) is made up of “atheists, we have Buddhists, Daoists, [and] we have people who are spiritual and not religious.” they are not gathered in His name. The Pastor says he is not a “born again Christian” and, in fact, doesn’t claim, in this article, to be any kind of Christian at all. It is a church, no doubt, but I don’t believe it is Christian even in the more liberal sense of the word.

      • Linda

        Yes, he is wrong NOT believing in Hell. Read your Bible. He may have the credentials, but that doesn’t mean he is leading these people down the right path. Drinking during church service?

  • Pete Moxley

    shame you were unable to find anyone to comment. Calvary Lutheran Church, Richland Hills, TX has been there several times and would br proud to comment. I know I have been there every visit.

  • Gloria Schieffer

    The pastor of the church in the bar stated he did not believe God would send people to hell. God gave man the ability to choose good or evil. The Bible is very clear about how to recieve eternal life in heaven and that is by putting our trust in Jesus Christ as Savior. If we choose not to do this, the choice is hell for eternity. God does not SEND people to hell, He just respects their choice.

    • Pastor's Kid

      The bible can be interpreted in many different ways. To each his own. After all, religion is a personal choice and lifestyle.

  • James

    The guy SMOKES! Smoking is poison for your body. The Bible (God) states that the body is the Temple of the Lord. So, your preacher is teaching it is ok to poison the Temple of the Lord. We were placed here on Earth to spread the word of the Lord, if we die early due to smoking cigarettes, how would we accomplish our intended duty. I don’t think the Lord would like us smoking. Plain and simple.

    • Jer

      You used the key phrase here James, ” I don’t think the Lord would like us smoking” How do you know what the Lord would or would not want us to do? Has he spoken to you lately? You need to focus on your own soul and try to be the best person you can be, and let the rest of us worry about ourselves. Who are you to judge this man because he smokes, only God can judge us.

      • James

        I’m not judging, but stating a fact. Did you you read the rest of what I wrote. We speak frequently.

    • Shane

      James then you better go completely organic and become a vegan cuz you are poising the body… nice copy and paste theology btw James. becuase the passage stating ” You body is a temple” was refering to men having sex with temple prostitutes.

      • Shane

        sorry for the msp btw….at lunch break and in a hurry

  • Alan

    So many judgemental people!

  • Local Group Holds “Church” Inside A Bar « Fort Worth News Feeds

    […] Go to News Source […]

  • Jer

    Don’t worry about where and what they do and focus on yourself.
    James and Keith M stop being so self rightous and judgemental…..only God has that right, and you ain’t him.

    • James

      You sure are on the defensive…

      • Jer

        No, not at all. I am just irritated by small minded people that think they know everything, and hide behind the bible, as if it is the answer to everything

  • Jason

    Do they have happy hour services?

  • Elizabeth June Pruden

    brilliant! this is brilliant!

    • Claire Marlatt

      Check out Kyrie Fort Worth on Facebook

      • Elizabeth June Pruden

        LOL thanks, I havent had a chance to go, but my whole family is trying to get together and go to support neil!

  • johnny

    If attending a church like this can bring hope or happiness to any person then I think that is something wonderful, and shame on anyone who tries to make them feel that it is wrong or bad.

  • Rachelle McFarland Pruden

    “Wherever two or more are gathered in my name I am among them “Matthew 18:20

  • Sharon Smith

    My husband has held church in bars many times. He is President and Founder of a Motorcycle Ministry that ministers to the outlaw element of motorcyclists.

  • Holly

    Thank you Rachelle! You said that quite succinctly!

  • Evangelist: Tony Pleasants

    Tony Pleasants
    Is it OK to hold church in a bar? It would have to do with your definition of church and bar. Church – the Lords house, belonging to the Lord and edifice consecrated for public worship of the Lord. Bar – an establishment or room with a counter at which alcoholic drinks and sometimes food are served to customers…Websters Dictionary!

    Lev 10:8 9 And the Lord spake unto Aaron, saying Do not drink wine nor strong drink (fermented)… when ye go into the tabernacle of the congregation (church), lest ye die… vs 10 And that you may put difference between holy and unholy, and between unclean and clean.

    Rom 1:18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth (Jesus) in unrighteousness. vs 24 Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonor their own bodies between themselves vs 25 Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshiped and served the creature(created things) more than the Creator, who is blessed forever Amen.

    • Jer

      This is not a Church, it is a bar with multi believe individuals gather to have fellowship and share the word of God. If you would like I can quote the verse in the bible where it says not to judge others, but I’m sure you already know how it reads. You should come and see for yourself before you condemn. How is your soul evangelist, are you ready?

      • James

        How about where it discusses the Temple of the Lord and how you should treat it.

      • James

        Do you read the Bible or attend worship somewhere?

      • Shane

        Please explain what you mean by ” Word of The Lord” ? And what do you mean by “convicted” and how does it apply to anyone on here.. Also why do you feel the need to place ” evangelist” in front of your name…do you feel that impresses anyone on here or something that impresses God? Do you think you are a Prophet too being you claim to bring ” The word of the Lord” ? I know you seem to feel you have some sort of authority and that you may get respect under the people who “submit” to you…but in real life that title does not do anything for you

      • Tony Pleasants

        Evangelist do not condemn anyone it is the word of god that judges and condemns if the word of the lord offended you or convicted you that’s a good thing repent and be converted. Amen

  • Lazarus Brands

    Given a choice between Pastor Neil and a church in a bar; and Pastor Robert Jeffress and a church full of hypocrites… I’ll buy the whole Kyrie Elison congregation a round… tip the bartender, and still tithe ten-percent! …And this, from a recovering alcoholic-addict.

    At least Pastor Neil, practices what he preaches! If Robert Jeffress practices what he preaches, God help the pathetic sheep that flock to his “North Park clone” heard!

  • JoAnn

    More power to this. Gather people together for fellowship in a church, bar or at a beautiful park. I know Jesus would sit with my musician/minister friends as they played music or formed a prayer circle for an ailing friend. Helping set up a benefit for an ailing musician friend or playing great music to help out. Holding someones hand and praying with them when life gets overwhelming- this is people helping people that is what God wants. Where ever we can help others is the point. God did not put us on earth to be judgemental and close-minded.

  • justin moore

    i personally do not care where and how people fellowship the lord. it is not a matter of where or how you spread the word, but a matter of actions and christ like manner in which you live. now if pastor neil is going out and being a philanderer of women/men, a murder, rapist, stealing, etc…then i think he is doing what he feels he is being called to do. the lord works in ways we will never be able to explain until that faithful day of judgement. i have seen the wonders of what “bar ministry” can do. my good friend started a service in our local bar when we were in college and fittingly called it “first call”. the turn out was tremendous and grew to as much as 40 people at times. it got a lot negative attention from the traditional southern baptisit inhabitants of the town, but it brought people closer to god and some were even saved. the same thing happens in a street preacher i read about in california who invites people to learn about the lord after local punk and hard rock concerts. its not about staying inside the christian bible. the lord wants us to reach out to all people, not just to those who share our beliefs. i applaud pastor neil and hope and pray more ministers, priest, pastors, preachers, and all who speak the good work would step out of the comfort zone and try programs, gatherings, churches, like he is doing. you can look at all denominations and disagree/agree with teachings and beliefs…but the great thing about christianity is, is that its what you believe and have faith in. no one can say that you are right or wrong, not even the preacher. god shows us the way to live christ like, but it’s your own convictions on how to do so. free will is a gift that is frowned upon too much in our so called christian society that it effects people and their day to day life. let people choose and face their actions on judgement day, we are not god and have no right to cast the preverbial stone at one another. i’m not saying that i would preach a sermon in a bar, but i wouldn’t throw the idea away…as some of my best conversations about my faith as a christian have been shared over a few beers, some of which have been with my grandpa who is a deacon and a very spiritual and god fearing christian. as rick warren wrote in his book “purpose driven life” in reference to a passage in the bible, and i’m paraphrasing, we are to be in the world but not of the world. this means we can enjoy the gifts and objects of the world, but we cannot become slaves of the world. keep on keeping on pastor neil…get a shiner bock ready for me as i plan to join you soon, salud…

    • Jer

      I applauded you Justin. The world needs more forward thinking people like you in it.

  • Susan Bland

    Neil Christopher is meeting people’s needs where they are, and just as they are – IMPERFECT. Just like you – and Neil – and me. Isn’t it great that we don’t have to be perfect to do God’s work?!?

    Blessings on all your efforts and your ministry, Neil! Sharing the message of salvation and practicing unconditional love is what we’re ALL supposed to be doing. : )

  • Caution

    Really need to stop focusing on the bar part and really pay attention to what this man is preaching. No hell? Then please tell me what is the point of the death and resurrection of Christ? Sounds like someone preaching the gospel that doesn’t want to step on anybody’s toes but if you study the character of Christ enough you will find he is very exact about what is right and wrong. If everybody is right then somebody is wrong. Somebody needs to man up and decide a path that is right instead of cherry picking. And as for drinking during church, have the average person try drinking 3 or 4 beers and then try teaching the Word of God, it just doesn’t work. The Holy Spirit cannot move when you are drunk. It grieves him, and if the Holy Spirit isn’t the one doing the talking then there really isn’t anything worth listening to, just some random man with his opinions. Caution to everyone that is listening to these sermons because the greatest trick that satan has ever played on an man was to make him believe he never existed.

    • Mike

      No hell? Then please tell me what is the point of the death and resurrection of Christ? The answer is “NO HELL”

    • Pastor's Kid

      You were obviously raised on different views than my own, and we are each entitled to our own opinions. You have shared your understanding, and I would like to share mine. I hope not to offend you but instead open your eyes to another view. I wouldn’t expect you to accept this view as your own, but having an understanding of it may be beneficial.
      The point of the death and resurrection of Christ? God loved the world so much that he sent his only son to Earth, to die for OUR sins. Even Jesus in human form was not perfect. He was affected by human emotions. God won’t send us to hell because he loves us. In return for this gracious love, we can choose to show this love to other people, as Pastor Neil is. It’s not required in order to “get into heaven”. Instead, its more of a ‘thank you’ for his ultimate sacrifice. As humanity, we are flawed and can never be close to perfect. Loving and caring for others above ourselves is the best way to show Christlike love.

      God Bless

  • Colzo

    Church, by defination is a body of believers. It is not the building where they meet. I think what pastor neil is doing is fantastic, I really do. At the end of the day, all people need to hear of the love that can be found in God.

    It also greaves the holy spirit when Christs followers are fighting with one another over the less important issues such as whether you can smoke or drink. As for quoting the scripture reference about the body being a temple of the holy spirit, the context of that passage is about sexual purity, not cigarets. If you wish to quote scripture, I feel that it is best that is kept within the context of which it was written.

    What is important is that the gospel is shared with those who have yet to believe. Let’s look at the early church of Acts as an example? The believers met in houses, they met at the river, basically, they met anywhere in order to share hope. They did not have a church building, so what makes it so important that we now meet in a church building?!?!

  • Former Churchgoer

    This is typical of the direction the Christian church is going. Ed Young, Jr. had a tank on stage, a toilet on stage, etc. He’s the P.T. Barnum of Christianity – all show and no substance – anything to help people “accept” the Christian message. Joel Osteen sells a watered-down feel-good message while selling books and greeting cards, and couldn’t adequately defend his faith on Larry King Live. It’s all about MONEY and the more rears in the seats, the more money you get to build that new home in the River Oaks area of Houston. Both their daddies, Ed Young, Sr. and the late John Osteen – great preachers with backbone. Christianity has been so perverted, it’s sickening. More of God’s clowns: Benny Hinn, T. D. Jakes, Jesse Duplantis, Joyce Meyer, Creflo Dollar (there’s a name), et. Al.

    • Linda

      I am in a great Bible believing church with a pastor who believes in preaching God’s word as it is written. Doesn’t care who gets offended, he preaches according to the bible. You are so right, Former Churchgoer, there is too many people that are afraid to tell it like it is. My pastor says ” the world had become too churchy and the church has become too worldly.”

    • Clicky Woods


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