We’ve allowed people to drink coffee during our worship services for quite some time now. Yes, it creates a relaxed atmosphere, but I’ve questioned its long-term effectiveness. The more I think about it, the more I realize that coffee itself isn’t special. It’s what happens in the process of serving and drinking that has the potential of changing lives.
Changing lives, you say? Yes. In a world of selfishness, people are longing to authentically connect. And connecting as a community is a biblical concept. In writing to the Churches in Galicia and Ephesus, Paul wrote:
“…do not use your [new] freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love.” (Galatians 5:13, NIV)
How do you serve and love one another?
“Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ, God forgave you.” (Ephesians 4:31-32, NIV)
All too often we let these texts speak to us in a reactive way. When something negative happens, we put on our loving and serving hats and try to make the situation positive.
But… what if we wanted to create a positive culture to begin with? What if loving and serving actually described our Church community? What if Christians engaged in authentic love and concern with fellow Christians?
I believe one of the ways we can proactively create a positive atmosphere, is by helping people connect with each other.
Want people to talk? Give them a coffee or a tea and a place to connect.
Here are 5 reasons why we serve coffee at Bethel:
1. Serving coffee provides social connection.
Our culture demands food when we connect together. If you want to have an effective social event, there better be lots of food and coffee. Likewise, if you show up to an event and refreshments are served, your social cues encourage people to connect.
2. Serving coffee inspires relationship.
A conversation, with a tea or coffee in hand, usually leads further than a conversation without. You may think that’s an overstatement, and it probably is for those who like to talk. For those who are a little socially awkward, however, having something to drink can break the ice and fill-in empty space.
3. Serving coffee invites participation.
Our coffee cart is a “self-serve” one. One of our goals is for people to engage others in service. Everyone has the ability to make a donation for their coffee, perhaps donate for someone else’s coffee, or simply offer to make a coffee for a newcomer. Participation is an active ingredient in servant-hood.
4. Serving coffee allows for common ground.
It doesn’t matter what store-bought coffee you buy or drink, or even if you don’t buy coffee at a café at all, everyone is on common ground when we serve coffee. Everyone is drinking from the same generic cup. With that said, technology (ie. Keurig) allows us to offer a little bit of everything to help satisfy the cravings.
5. Serving coffee demands a seating area.
You can drink coffee just about anywhere, but as soon as you serve coffee to someone, people need a place to sit down. If people sit down, they start talking, connecting and listening and the Church becomes that much closer to an authentic community.
To help facilitate, we allow people give a donation. There’s no pressure to drop some money in the jar, but we encourage those who can buy their coffee, to buy into this ministry of community.
Serving coffee certainly isn’t the only way to connect…
How have you helped people connect? Has coffee worked for you? Does something else work in your context? What would you like your local church to do to encourage people to connect?
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