Brewery Bible Study


If you have ever met Rev. Randy Blanton, you will quickly learn that he has a love of craft beer and theology. When he moved to Aldersgate UMC in Shelby in 2016 he decided to combine two of his loves and host a Bible study at Newgrass Brewery in downtown Shelby. His first fall doing this he thought there may be ten to fifteen people who came out. When he showed up for the first study there were almost fifty people there. They had planned to have it inside, but with this number they instead moved into the alleyway connected with the Brewery. 

At first, he received pushback from some members of the congregation about how it would look to the community if their pastor was doing a Bible study at the brewery, but this concern quickly faded when they realized the interest level something like this held. There was a concerted effort to have this Bible study on a Wednesday night to encourage the entire church to be in discipleship on Wednesdays. Parents would drop their kids off at church for youth group and children’s ministry opportunities, then go to the brewery, which was five minutes away, and then be back in time to pick up their kids when their groups were ending. 

Randy would do this off and on until the pandemic hit, doing it for eight to ten weeks and then taking a break, especially around holidays, and then picking it up again for another eight to ten weeks. In the summers, they would do one four-week session since they understood families liked to travel and were gone a lot more during the summer. At first Randy would design the Bible study himself, but over time he began to use Faithlink, a Cokesbury resource. Randy paid around $10 for this resource which allows him to print as many copies as he needs. It is published weekly and it intersects scripture, theology, and whatever is happening in the world during that time. He chose this resource since the brewery could be loud and hard to use a lecture-based approach. This invited people to get together with those around them or at their table and foster relationships that way. 

The only advertising Randy did for this was to put a flier in the window at the brewery; otherwise, it was word of mouth. While the majority of people who came were members of his church, there were some who were not that would come because they knew it was a nonthreatening, discussion-based environment. 

The biggest challenge in keeping this going was when there were fifty people present. It was virtually impossible to have a discussion with that many people. Once it was more regular, they had about twenty people on average, which was a lot easier to handle. In addition to that it could be noisy at the brewery, so they had them turn down the speakers in the space they were using. They also worked with the brewery to figure out what their slower nights were and changed from Wednesdays to Tuesdays. Like most church opportunities, this has been put on pause due to the pandemic, but Randy is excited to get back to this study once it is safe to do so. 

If you'd like, let us know about your innovation ministry in the Western North Carolina Conference. This information will help innovators connect with one another and is an important step in furthering a culture of innovation in WNCC.

Resources for Vital Congregations



Lewis Center for Church Leadership

Lewis Center for Church Leadership: Books

Lewis Center for Church Leadership: Serve Your Neighbor

GBHEM Leadership Resources


Living Faithfully: Human Sexuality and the United Methodist Church

Englewood Book Review

Five Practices of Fruitful Congregations

Ted Talks: The Golden Circle

Ted Talks: The Power of Vulnerability

Ted Talks: The Price of Invulnerability

Design Thinking

Meditations on the Ministry of All Christians


Be A Disciple

A Disciple’s Path; A Guide for United Methodist

Lewis Center for Church Leadership: Adult Christian Studies from the Wesley Ministry Network

Traveling Together: A Guide for Disciple Forming Congregations


Living As United Methodist Christians

Methodist Doctrine: The Essentials

Reclaiming our Wesleyan Tradition: John Wesley’s Sermons for Today

John Wesley Sermons: Anthology


Get Their Name

Evangelism & Theology in the Wesleyan Spirit

Canoeing the Mountains

Fresh Expressions

Fresh Expressions: Dinner Church

Lewis Center for Church Leadership: Reach New Disciples

Lewis Center for Church Leadership: 50 Ways to Reach People

Community: The Structure of Belonging


Institute for Emerging Issues

Congregations 4 Children


The Royce and Jane Reynolds Ministry Fund Grants

The Duke Endowment


The Appalachian District Church Vitality Team has been prayerfully seeking ways to help support you and the ministries of your local congregation during this COVID-19 pandemic. Together they have diligently researched and connected with others throughout the conference and our denomination to identify resources and offer them to you. We hope they will be helpful to you and bless you greatly in leading your churches and communities through this unprecedented time. We are very grateful to the District Vitality Team and other contributors for their great work on this resource.
This faithful team has created three documents, two of which you are receiving today. They include:

  • Family Home Worship – designed to help families establish a regular worship space within their homes as well as a time where they can worship together.
  • Tech Strategies – to help guide you in selecting effective tools and resources within your budget to best communicate in the digital world.

We believe these resources will be of great benefit to you. Also know that the District Vitality Team is available to answer any questions you might have in regards to the documents attached. If you have questions, you may email Rev. Howard Fleming at


  • Resources
Follow Jesus. Make Disciples. Transform the World.