Drinking Band With a Worship Problem Keeps Christianity 'Real'
The Lutz-based group brings in people who might not otherwise have ever stepped into a church, band members say.
They have attitude, and they have grace. They’re Christian musicians “hell-bent” on changing the world, one song—one person—at a time.
The Lutz-based Drinking Band with a Worship Problem came together somewhat serendipitously. Elizabeth Olson Bergeron, 35, was invited to sing at a funeral at Tim’s Memorial Presbyterian Church in early 2011. It was there the lifelong vocalist—with seven Grand Ole Oprey performances under her belt—reconnected with childhood friend Adam Balic.
Balic, who Bergeron recalled as a “troublemaker” in high school, was the church’s contemporary services leader. Bergeron was invited to join the worship team, and the rest is not history, rather just the beginning of something that has people talking—and listening.
The band name was originally Elevate, and even before it was renamed, some church elders vehemently opposed their contemporary style in the beginning, Bergeron said. But since then, the music has brought them in, some attending both the traditional service and the contemporary service just for the music, she said.
And from those services, something else took shape. Bergeron and her husband, Cory, opened their Lutz home about a year ago to all who wish to worship with them on Friday nights, and it’s “not your parents’ church,” she said.
Worship Problem—as it's known for short— performs, then groups break off to hear sermons or join discussions. All ages are welcome. And if you’re old enough and want to grab a drink or a smoke, that’s OK, too.
Come have a beer and worship with us, band members tell people.
“Just like Jesus did it, we want to go out and get people excited,” Bergeron said. “We’re doing what comes naturally, not what we’re told we’re supposed to do.”
There’s no status, no expectations, and no standing on ceremony, just an open invitation to hear the music and develop relationships with like-minded people who want to model their hearts after Jesus and “love on the community.”
The band is dedicated to “the ideals of radical acceptance, love and grace without judgment, condemnation or guilt,” Bergeron said.
Worship Problem’s music brings people in to the Bergeron’s home that might otherwise never step foot in a church. One atheist teen came to a Friday night service about six months ago. She’s been there weekly ever since, Bergeron said.
About That Name
Of course, it wasn’t just the style of music that some traditional Christians opposed. The band’s name has its critics, as well. But Bergeron, a recovering alcoholic, said she’s allowed to poke fun at booze.
“The focus for us was never the beer,” Bergeron said.
More than half the band doesn’t drink at all, she said. It came about because they found themselves inviting friends who didn’t attend church to come over for a beer and listen to Elevate's music. A joke by Balic changed the name one night. Listen to the full story here.
And the name works. People who don’t want to attend church are drawn to it, Balic said.
People who are opposed to it are the ones who are already going to a traditional church regularly. And getting into trouble for the name isn’t an issue for them— Jesus got himself into trouble with his ideas, Balic said.
Loving people the way Jesus loved the people around him regardless of their lifestyle choices is what the band is all about. You don't have to pretend to be anything you're not, or deny what you are. “We’re going to be real,” Bergeron said.
Drinking Band With A Worship Problem performs at Disney World’s Night of Joy on Friday, Sept. 7, at the Diamond Horseshoe Review.
In addition to Bergeron (vocals) and Balic (vocals and acoustic guitar), band members include John Beaird, percussion; Bill Phelps, bass guitar; Alexis Kendall, keyboard and vocals;Kevin Kehl, electric guitar; and Katie Donnelly, cello.
Check out Drinking Band with a Worship Problem on Facebook. Want to attend the Bergerons' home church? Contact Elizabeth Bergeron at email@example.com.