Dean doesn’t drink coffee. He doesn’t even think it smells good. But after almost four years of visiting churches, we both agree that coffee needs to be part of the American church. The drink isn’t necessary for worship or anything like that -- coffee is a useful tool for ministry in more ways than we’d imagined when we started this blog.
- People can get good coffee anywhere. It’s not the reason they’ve come. Have good coffee because God does all things well. God’s not weak or cheap, and He’s not stingy. We shouldn’t be either.
- It’s easier to start a conversation with somebody while you’re doing something. You’re standing next to a stranger stirring a cup of coffee while you put a lid on your cup of coffee? Say good morning, mention how pleasant it is to sip a warm cup of coffee on a chilly day, ask if they need more creamer, offer a napkin, joke about caffeine. Suddenly, you’re saying, “My name is” and getting acquainted. It was easy, but that conversation is harder to get started when you’re sitting down in before the worship service starts.
- Coffee can help end human trafficking, provide clean water, and support new life in the community. Churches can support that with the coffee they buy.
- Learning about coffee (or learning to make specialty coffee drinks) can be a bonding activity or even job training. The Bridge in Fresno holds barista training regularly, because part of thier outreach to visitors includes a free specialty coffee drink.
- Those who prepare coffee (and anything that goes along with it) often function like a supportive small group.
- For coffee drinkers, the aroma of coffee is a silent message that somebody expected them and is glad they’re there.
One church we know hosts a (free) coffee and cocoa cart on the sidewalk between two local schools. Another has a coffee shop and playground open to the public. In both situations, the purpose is to reach out with tangible evidence that God's people care about those outside the church doors because God cared about each of us enough to leave heaven and love us on earth where we were. Sometimes, a warm cup of coffee on a cool day is the message a person needs: that God loves and cares for each of us and is concerned for our needs.