Apr 19, 2006

coffee houses

Speaking of Starbucks, I'm curious... as someone who has never had a cup of coffee.

(Excuse me while I pat myself on the back and ignore all the other things I have done.)

Are "Christian coffee houses" really outreach opportunities in the church? Whether you're a Christian or not, what's your opinion about churches that make little coffee houses inside their buildings and have poetry nights or indie Christian bands as a way to get outside folks in? Some folks swear by them and invest accordingly while others don't.

My spin? We like to think they are outreach but seem to be more "come to us" versus "let's reach out."

But that's just me. What's your thought?


Rodney Olsen said...

I think they an have their place if done well but you're right, they're still just another way of trying to attract people to us rather than us going out with the message of Jesus.

I have heard of a number of church groups starting coffee shops out in the community rather than inside their church. They run just like a normal coffee shop but give opportunity to develop links with those who frequent them.

Carter Clark said...

I am not sure why we have to carry the label "Christian" all the time. It is like we have this need to announce the fact the this is some higher, holier ground.

I don't know. I work in the world because that is my calling in life. I help people thru developing relationships with them. And then intro them to Christ or bible or whatever conversation they want to engage in. I do not wear a sign that says christian worker.

I think in general we are in need of good places to hang out and engage in peoples lives.

My $.02

Michael said...

When I was involved in Youth groups(or ministries) I always thought this "coffee house" thing was cool, Mainly becuase it gave me and my friends a cool hang out.

Mark D said...

Hmmmm. Very good question. In my humble opinion, which is better or more appropriate all depends upon what fruit is produced. Whether it is a "come to us" or "let's reach out" situation, are we merely trying to boost membership or are we really trying to change lives? To me, it all depends on what the ultimate goal is.

Combs said...

I'm always a little skeptical of churches who have cafes or coffee houses in their buildings. I keep getting images of Christ over turning tables in the temple. I'm not saying that it's to that extent, but I just have to wonder. My other problem is that it does seem more somthing for the body if it's in the church. There's nothing wrong with that, just don't fund it out of the outreach fund. I'm a coffee/coffee house type of guy and spent the majority of my college career sitting at table with books or friends. I like the idea, kudos to whoever thought it up first, but maybe not in the Church. I like this idea that Rodney mentioned, move it downtown, put it next to the bar. Staff it from the church, maybe the youth group...depends on the group. Do your live music, were someone might actually hear it that needs it.

Tony Myles said...

Rodney - I like the idea of going into the community and starting a business of sorts to strike up friendships.

Carter - It's interesting... what makes something inanimate "Christian?" Be it "Christian" music or "Christian" t-shirts, we tend to slap this label around a lot. Good call.

Michael - sounds like you had a cool youth pastor back in the day. :)

Mark - I think that's a key insight... if it's about boosting our pride then we've missed the boat. If it's about facilitating community that Christians feeling comfortable inviting friends into, I get it. I just don't see it being an effective "outreach" tool.

Combs - Sounds like we're on the same page. I wonder if that were the case what kind of music would be done. :)

Quietlyhopeful said...

Jesus didn't say "Start a coffee house and they will come", he said "go". We as a church spend a lot of time trying to get people to come to us instead of going to them. A servant doesn't expect his master to come to where he is when he needs something. The servant goes to where the need is.

This isn't to say that you can't have a coffee house. I just believe that you will attract mostly/all believers so don't call it an outreach any more than you would your Sunday service.

momma, poppa & THE boy said...

I can't believe you've never had a cup of coffee!!!

(oh, yeah, good discussion BTW)

Tony Myles said...

Nope... neither has noted pastor/writer/crazy thinker Rob Bell. See... I knew he wanted to be just like me. :)

thatcoffeeguy said...

Okay, I just can't get over the fact you've NEVER tasted coffee. Call me suspicious, but that's just hard to believe. Sorry, call me closed minded, but I just can't support you in this. After all, my name says it all. j/k

Combs said...

Well, I tend to be pretty ecclectic, so what ever the community is interested in. Though I don't think you can have live music at a coffee house without once and a while having somthing acustic. just my opinion.

Tony Myles said...

tcg: Believe it... I've had coffee in my mouth at least three times in my life and then had to spit it out because it was way too nasty. Admit it - the only reason anyone starts drinking it is for the caffeine (which is, in my opinion, an addiction we tend to excuse and endorse in the church, but I digress). After they acquire the taste, though, then it's Mocha Locha Chocka's all day long.

So to be clear - I've tasted coffee, but never swallowed it nor ordered a cup of it.

But hey... we all have our thing. You know, that thing that's easy to pick on other people about while ignoring our own thing. So that's all you'll get out of me on that. :)

Tony Myles said...

tcg: Believe it! I've tasted coffee but had to spit it out... the stuff is nasty and deep down you know it's an acquired taste because of the pressure of our society (it's everywhere!) and the caffeine people get addicted to. My opinion is that it's one of the excusable addictions the church overlooks and endorses through social functions. I can tell you stories of Christians and pastors who freak out when there isn't any coffee... and I think that's a bit unhealthy.

Then again, we all have something in our life we're blind to. For some it's a caffeine addiction, for others it's booze, food, materialism, iPods, or whatever. I think they key is to stay on the growth track, whatever that may be.

So we can still be friends, my Starbucks comrade. :)

thatcoffeeguy said...

Hmmmm....I'm debating...

After all, you have in essence called me a drug pusher: encouraging others to partake of something that will become an addiction in their life. An addiction that the church can and does overlook.

Hmmmmm....sounds familiar....

Maybe because I used to be a pusher of another sort. After all, at my last church I served on staff as a full-time pusher. I pushed people into activities that took them away from their families. I filled their schedules so full they had no time to do anything else. I got people addicted to church busyness.

And I won't even go into the "meet and eat" mentality. Food was definately "pushed." It was a Baptist church, after all.

I guess, in moderation, neither one is bad. A french press of freshly roasted arabica beans from a coffee farm on the side of a volcano is good on occasion. Just like volunteering at church. Either one, taken to the extreme is damaging.

Yes, I guess we can still be friends. Just look beyond my weaknesses and I'll look beyond yours. (although you haven't told us any of yours)


Tony Myles said...

Smoothies... it's in my profile. :)

Moderation - good call.