Rev. Wesley Savage discusses the role of the Bible in daily life with those attending The Stream service at Baumhower’s in Patton Creek.
The only music you’ll hear at Baumhower’s at Patton Creek on Sunday morning is radio hits streaming from the kitchen. But across the restaurant, in a section of tables and booths surrounded by blank big screens and sports memorabilia, a worship service takes place.
“One of the reasons we gather together is to strengthen and encourage people who generally believe what you believe,” Rev. Wesley Savage says to a small group gathered at tables around him in the restaurant on a Sunday in January as he glances down at notes on his iPad on occasion.
The Stream, a new worship service held by Riverchase United Methodist Church at the restaurant, gained national media attention from the New York Daily News to the Top 10 List on the Late Show with David Letterman when it was announced in December, but now it has settled into a quieter weekly rhythm.
The 45-minute service Savage leads feels more like a Bible study format than a traditional worship service. There’s no liturgy or hymn set, just a Scripture reading and teaching time followed by discussion. Because people are sitting at tables, they can discuss Savage’s message and questions he provides them related to Scripture or theme before he leads the whole group in discussion. Currently Savage is teaching a series called “Why” that examines why and how people study their Bible. The service concludes with a prayer and information about a way to serve others in the community, such as donating food items to Urban Ministry.
Riverchase began the service to try to reach an audience of young adults who might not feel welcome in a traditional church setting, Savage said.
“It’s really just an atmosphere where we felt like people would be comfortable going to eat or watch sports,” he said.
After the first meeting, The Stream moved from Buffalo Wild Wings to a new location, Baumhower’s at Patton Creek, because of space concerns and the media hype the first service received. They did still want to stay with the “wings sports feel.”
Savage said the management at Baumhower’s has been very welcoming and provides the attendees with coffee.
Attendance has ranged from 12-30 people since the first Sunday in December. Some of them usually stay after the service for lunch, which begins at 11 a.m.
Savage said he has been pleasantly surprised by the positive feedback he has received on the service.
“Churches should take more risks and try things like this,” he said. “Over the last 10 years, you have seen churches using bars or restaurants for service; it’s another way to reach people in the community who might not want to show up to a large church or any church. I think it will be a trend you will continue to see.”
A group of young adults who have not previously been involved in church have come back repeatedly to The Stream, and middle-aged adults have joined in as well. Members at Riverchase have come some weeks to support the service, and a couple of area pastors and members of other churches have joined in to see what it’s about.
“We hope it continues to grow, and we are doing what we can to help spread the word,” Savage said. The church recently sent out mailers about the service to Hoover residents and encourages those who attend to invite others.
“Ideally, we will continue to have people to join us, whether it’s our church or other churches in community looking to do something similar in other parts of town and seeing if this format clicks with young adults or other age groups.”
The Stream meets on Sundays at 9:45 a.m. at Baumhower’s Restaurant, located at 4445 Creekside Ave. across from the Carmike Patton Creek 15. For more information on the service or Riverchase United Methodist, visit riverchaseumc.org or call 987-4030.