Last Call CoverLast Call: From Serving Drinks to Serving Jesus, Jerry Herships, Westminster John Knox Press, 2015.

Jerry Herships is unlike any minister you have met before. His experiences alone before receiving his call to ministry are enough to fill a book. But add to that what he is doing in Denver and it makes this memoir even more compelling.

A former altar boy who had vast dreams of being the next Johnny Carson, Herships tended bar as he worked to make ends meet with his various comedy and game show gigs. These aren’t the usual experiences that one who is called to ministry is expected to have. But Jerry isn’t your typical pastor. His book tells his story of moving to LA to chase his dream of becoming the Carson for a new generation to forming a new faith community – a bar church – known as AfterHours Denver.

AfterHours is more than just a church that meets in a bar, it has decided to focus on the homeless in Denver by gathering in community and fixing peanut butter and jelly sandwiches to give out to the homeless. This affirms that traditional church and traditional worship is not for everyone. Herships found a way to be in ministry with those who otherwise would not darken a church sanctuary. In addition to handing out food and water, this church shares in communion with 700+ people a week in Civic Center Park.

And it’s grounded in Herships’ theology of loving God and loving others.

One of my favorite stories from the book is about Christmas Eve. Jerry and some other clergy friends would go to a local bar at the conclusion of the 11pm Christmas Eve service because the bar was one of the few places left open. They realized that this was a whole demographic of people who had not been reached on one of the holiest nights in the Christian tradition.

So, the three friends resolved that the would start bringing Christmas Eve services to the bar. At the conclusion of their 11pm services, they would meet at this bar, candles in hand, and lead an improv Christmas Eve service.

The catalyst for AfterHours Denver.

Herships’ story should be an inspiration to anyone who has felt God calling them or their community of faith to something “outside the box.” The story of AfterHours Denver is an inspiration that we can indeed rethink church. It is the story of a church being welcoming to all and spreading the love of God in their local community.

Most of all, Last Call is a story of having and giving up on dreams, finding yourself, and finding how God can use you in unexpected ways.

Thanks to NetGally and the publisher for a digital review copy.

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