‘Theology on Tap’ a new approach to sharing faith

     For more than a year, a group of 20- to 30-year-olds have been gathering once a month for a faith series called, “Theology on Tap” at the A.T. The Black and White Restaurant in Little Falls.

The idea is provide a non-threatening environment, and a relaxing evening to socialize and to learn and share about their faith.

Although anyone can come, and everyone is welcome, the speakers are for the most part, Catholic, some priests — sharing their faith journeys and stories, hoping others will draw strength and inspiration from them.

Amy Schlichting first attended such an event while she was attending college at St. Cloud State University. She said she loved it, but it was short-lived.

Now out of college, married, living in Royalton and teaching in Pierz, Schlichting knew she wanted to help bring such a program to the area.

The A.T. The Black and White Restaurant was chosen because of its big back room, its central location in Little Falls, and owners Tomas and Amanda Zimmerman’s willingness to stay open later than their business hours to accommodate the group.

“They’ve been great,” Schlichting said.

The event started in June 2016, has been successful, drawing crowds as large as 65, enjoying the time to get out, have a bite to eat, a drink if they want one, and to socialize with others their own age.

The speakers’ topics range from how to pray, the prodigal son and forgiveness, setting priorities, discerning a vocation, evangelization in daily lives, keys to a strong marriage, and a favorite, a “Grill the Priest” evening, where those in attendance were able write down questions for the priests that evening to answer.

Another favorite speaker over the past year, said Schlichting, was Michelle Litke, who shared her journey through cancer and how she learned to trust God to overcome fear.

Because Little Falls is a central location, Schlichting said people have come from Pierz, Little Falls, Royalton, Brainerd, St. Cloud, Upsala and St. Rosa.

“We’re really drawing a good variety of people,” Schlichting said.

And, she said, many come back every month. Some young married couples use it as a monthly date night.

During the July event, despite a good speaker, fewer people attended. Schlichting said she realized that others were as busy as she and her husband were, and perhaps once a month was too often. They took the month of August off, and the decision was made to hold the gatherings the third Thursday of every other month, starting in September.

The next Theology on Tap is set for Thursday, at 7 p.m. at A.T. The Black and White. Julie Laflamme will speak on the topic, “The Holy Spirit.”

Laflamme and her husband have attended the gatherings and  have enjoyed them very much.

Laflamme is also the administrator of the Father Pierz School of Religion, and said she has told her students a story or two from the gatherings.

She feels the gatherings are important for those who want to be inspired in their faith, grow closer to God and to fellowship with other Christians.

“Those in their 20s and 30s are the hardest age to reach. Churches having Bible studies and small groups, but these people have young children and don’t have time,” Laflamme said.

“They also feel the pull of the world. It’s so important to share our stories,” she said. “We’re always growing — constantly growing. Our life is a testimony,” she said.

“You walk away with life lessons and life tools,” she said. “I think people are so busy nowadays, I don’t think they’d come back if it wasn’t worth their time — they’re definitely getting something out of it.”

Laflamme gave a brief synopsis of what she will talk about.

“I will be sharing about keeping an eternal perspective and saying ‘Yes’ to the Holy Spirit and recognizing how the Holy Spirit interacts with us on a day-to-day basis,” she said.

“Theology on Tap” is open to anyone and everyone in their 20s and 30s, no matter their station in life or whether they want to participate, come for a meal and a drink if they wish, or just sit and listen.