What is Spirituality in the Pub?

Spirituality in the Pub? (SIP) is one of the forums for conversation instituted by Catalyst for Renewal. The first SIP event was held at Paddington (Sydney) in May 1995. There are venues in New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland.

Each SIP venue determines the frequency and content of its event program.  For information about upcoming events, refer to the Events menu on this website, which has a sub-category specifically for SIP.

As indicated above, the purpose of all these Catalyst forums is conversation for the sake of renewal.

We seek to include in the conversation — at least implicitly — the foundational values of our faith as disciples of Jesus. Thus conversations are geared around what is actually happening, as distinct from what we might like to think is happening. These conversations seek to probe both the secular and sacred dimensions of our lives today.

Most venues choose an overall theme selected for the year’s meetings. The topics for each evening are then selected in relation to that them, with a careful selection of themes, topics and speakers.

The venue is usually a welcoming pub that will be open to such a conversation for all searchers, not only for those comfortable within traditional structures.

The format of the evening is simple:

It begins at a designated time, say 7.30pm.

  • There are usually two speakers who address the topic set for the evening.
  • Each is given up to 15 minutes to present a point of view.
  • The presentations are then followed by a break of about 5-10 minutes in which people speak with one another or get another drink.
  • There is then open forum in which the people are invited to ask questions of the presenters or put their own point of view.
  • The formal part of the evening ends an hour and a half later, say at 9pm.

The guests generally arrive 15-30 minutes before time so they can get a drink, find a seat and talk with their friends. Someone acts as MC and welcomes the people at, say 7.30pm, sharp. The introductions are kept to a minimum to allow maximum time for the conversation.

These fourums are not generally used as a place for advertising as it can distract from the conversation. (Advertising can been done by leaving fliers in an appropriate place.) The MC concludes the formalities at, say 9pm, sharp to leave people free to informally continue the conversation at the bar or wherever they choose.

In view of our desire to work for renewal from within the Church as we find it, we believe it is important to keep the relevant authorities informed. While there is strictly no canonical requirement to seek the permission of the local bishop, we strongly recommend that the organisers meet with the local bishop (or his representative) and inform him of what is being done. In this context, care should be taken to promote Spirituality in the Pub in a way that complements, rather than competes with, other programs organised within the diocese. When speaking with the bishop, emphasis should be given to the fact that it is a forum for conversation – not teaching.