Why Drinking Coffee Doesn’t Save People and Why Serving Coffee Does

5 Reasons Why We Serve Coffee at Our Church

Reading Time: 3 minutes

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.

Why Serving Coffee Matters

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.One of the ways we can proactively create a positive atmosphere, is by helping people connect. Click To Tweet

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.

Your turn…

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?

I would love to hear from you!  Feel free to comment below, on social media, or by email (andrewholm@gmail.com).  SUBSCRIBE HERE!

How He Loves Us – “sloppy wet” versus “unforeseen”

Thinking through the lyrics

Reading Time: 3 minutes

If you’re into modern worship music, you’d know John McMillan’s song “How He Loves Us” very well. Since writing the song in 2005, many artists have included the song in their repertoire.  Kim Walker from Jesus Culture and David Crowder are among those who have done so.[i]   It’s clear, the amazing truth behind the song is powerful – God loves us! While this is so true, it’s also very important to understand how he loves us.  God loves us with unconditional love known as agape love, and we should express ourselves in a way which allows us to mature and grow deeper in our relationship with God.

How He Loves Us

Before I continue, if you haven’t heard both artists sing this song, take a few minutes to listen to them.  Notice the difference between verse 2 in each version and enjoy the powerful song!

Kim Walker

David Crowder

In case you missed it, here are the lyrics of verse 2…

We are His portion and He is our prize
Drawn to redemption by the grace in His eyes
If grace is an ocean we’re all sinking
So Heaven meets earth
Like a [sloppy wet OR unforeseen] kiss
And my heart turns violently inside of my chest
I don’t have time to maintain these regrets
When I think about the way that…[ii]

Both artists sang different similes in verse 2.  Walker sang, “So heaven meets earth like sloppy wet kiss,” while Crowder sang, “So heaven meets earth like an unforeseen kiss.”

At first glance, we might think Crowder is simply using a phrase that is less controversial; trying to appeal to a wider audience.  While this may be true to some degree, there are also theological issues at play.

Unfortunately, the English language doesn’t explain certain words very well.  The English word “love” is certainly one of those words.  The Greek language, however, has a number of words for “love”; each conveying a different meaning.  In this particular case, I suggest we use Greek definitions to make sure we are consistently describing the correct kind of love.  This is really important when discussing the kind of love God has for us. (Click here to see a brief overview of the Greek words for “love”)

God loves us with unconditional love.  We love because he loved us first.[iii]  God’s love doesn’t require reciprocation in order for Him to love us.  When we speak of relational love, however, we think of two people having feelings for each other.  The key there, is “each other”.  Love is reciprocated. Love goes two-ways.  When we speak of God’s love, the love starts with Him, and if reciprocated, ends with Him.  The only response we, as humans, have is obedience and worship. The Greek language refers to this unwarranted love as agape.

In the song, Walker sang the phrase “sloppy wet kiss.”  It’s a simile used to describe the love connection between heaven and earth – the Father sending the Son to earth as an action of love.  The problem, however, is this simile doesn’t really describe God’s love (agape), rather the love between a man and a woman (eros).  This causes confusion, as we’re saying we understand God’s love in the same way we are attracted to another person in passionate love.  God’s love is more about affection than about attraction.  A “sloppy wet kiss” has more to do with our attraction to someone than it does are affection towards someone.

Our affection often results in our action outside of attraction, and is usually seen in mature relationships.  For example, even within passionate love (eros), affection is shown when a husband cleans the dishes before his wife returns home, or a wife letting her husband pick out the movie they want to go see.  It’s a selfless action, out of love.  This would be the closest eros is to agape.  So, if we changed the lyric to, “so heaven meets earth like a husband washing the dishes,” it would make more sense than “sloppy wet kiss.”  🙂

When Crowder sang this verse, he sang the phrase, “unforeseen kiss.” This seems to work better. This simile is actually using an agape kind of love to describe God’s love.  Just like we don’t deserve God’s love, we’ll never understand or comprehend why God would love us so much.  In the same way, it’s like someone out-of-the-blue kissing us – it’s totally unexpected, undeserved, unwarranted.

Which one should we use?
It depends on how you view God’s love.  I believe God’s love is far deeper than passionate and sexual love (eros), and therefore, I wouldn’t explain God’s love in that way.  The term “sloppy wet kiss,” also conveys a sort of shallow relationship.  I’d like to believe God desires us to develop into a mature and deep relationship with him as time progresses.  Singing the phrase, “unforeseen kiss,” allows for that sort of relationship to grow.

What do you think?  Feel free to comment and share.


[i] Kim Walker sang it on Jesus Culture’s album called “We Cry Out” (released in 2008); David Crowder sang it on his album called “Church Music” (released in 2009).

[ii] Verse 2 of “How He Loves Us” written by John Mark McMillan, 2005 Integrity’s Hosanna! Music.

[iii] 1 John 4:19

New Year Resolutions (Part 1)

Reading Time: 2 minutes

As we look forward to another wonderful year, many of us make new year resolutions.  Maybe this year we can set goals that help us grow spirituality over the next twelve months.  As Christians, we should be growing together in terms of three concepts: worshiping God, loving others, and serving.  Perhaps this year we can challenge ourselves with building stronger relationships within these three areas.

Over the next three posts, we’ll see how we can do this.  In this post, we’ll look at our relationship with God.

Our relationship with God

It’s no surprise, strengthening our relationship with God is important. Let’s look at two ways we can grow with God this year.

Time With God

If we want to know God’s will for us and wonder why we go through tough times, we have to know his voice.  The closer we are with God, the clearer we’ll see God’s will; the clearer we see God’s will, the more comfortable we’ll be with the circumstances in life.

Early in Mark’s gospel, Jesus removed himself from all distractions to pray:

And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed.[i]

If we read the original Greek text, we see that the emphasis is put on how Jesus removed himself from his busy ministry to pray.  Let’s try to remove ourselves from our busy schedules this year, and take time to be with God.

Physical Well-Being

 Another way we can draw nearer to God this year, is by taking care of ourselves.  God has given us a body and He expects us to honour Him by taking care of it. Paul wrote,

Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought for a price.  Therefore honor God with your bodies.[ii]

Too often, we read this passage with others in mind rather than ourselves.  I’m sure we can all improve the way we take care of ourselves.  For some, it might mean eating better, while others are looking to quit smoking.  For me, I’m going to try to drink less coffee and eat less fast food.  In any case, let’s search ourselves and ask how we can better honor God with our physical well-being.

We can grow our relationship in many other ways as well.  This question is, how will you challenge yourself to draw nearer and honor God this year?  Whatever you choose, I guarantee you will be richly blessed for it.

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From our home to yours, have a blessed and wonderful year!

Check out part two and three of “New Year Resolutions”

 


[i] Mark 1:35, ESV.

[ii] 1 Cor 6:19-20, NIV.