Anyone can see a historical drama, eat food, and listen to music in the same venue on the South Side, every Sunday. The crowd comprises all walks of life -- tattooed punks, middle-aged couples, biracial children -- who meet under one roof to laugh, sing, and pray.
At the Hot Metal Bridge Faith Community, the scene does not resemble most churches. There is no formally dressed pastor, no robed choir, no uniformed worshipers and no ornate altar. In fact, this weekly assembly seeks to redefine spiritual congregation in a new way, using arty techniques to communicate with the youth, the counter-cultured and anyone interested in Christian worship.
The End Ministry, a community of believers and worshipers, has transformed the Body Bizarre on East Carson Street to fit their new idea. They house a tattoo parlor under the same roof used for their Bible study. Melissa Whitman, one of the six people younger than 25 who founded the End Ministry, chose to keep the tattoo shop and rename it "In the Blood Tattoos and Piercings," while also adding the new dimension of Bible study.
"We are seeing not only people who don't know God come in, but kids that do know God, that don't feel accepted because of the way they look," she said, adding that they wanted to reach the "counter-culture crowd."
Although the format of the service adheres to the formula of a basic Christian program, the Hot Metal Bridge puts a focus on staged drama to show the problems that believers and non-believers face in a contemporary, Christian context. In other words, Hot Metal Bridge leaders do not mold their services around the traditional Catholic, Methodist, Presbyterian or other denominational worship service.
"It's a great combining of denominations," said Brent Jackson, a junior studying pharmacy at Pitt. (Bilal Muhammad, "The Pitt News," University of Pittsburgh, November 15, 2004).
[TBC: Paul said that he was "made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some" (1 Corinthians:9:22). In all cases, however, Paul did not reduce the doctrine of Christ to the lowest common denominator. The Cross has always been an offense to humanity - Galatians:5:11).