Don't Drink the Evil Coffee

Ever have those moments where something dawns on you that has been bugging you for months? I just had one of those moments, and need to share it to get it recorded before it slips my mind and bothers me for another several months.

I've been researching a ton of churches in the last several months as I contemplate my transition from seminary to having both feet in "the real world." I'm attracted to the types of churches that are doctrinally sound, but missionally minded - that is, the kinds of church who are internally healthy and outwardly focused. Believe it or not, it's rare to find both.

The easy (and way over-simplified) test to see whether a church is externally focused or not is to look at their calendar on October 31st to see what they do. If they throw a "Hallelujah Party" and invite everyone off the "evil" streets to come to the "not evil" church for a party about Jesus, the chances are they are inwardly focused. If the church locks the doors and decides to be living a witness out on the street with "the evil people," the chances are you're dealing with an externally focused church. (Again, that's an illustration made half in jest... please don't send the throng of irate homeschool moms my way)

To make a long story short, I like the externally focused model. I think the Church has the responsibility to be salt and light in the world (Matthew 5), and wonder how the Church can be salt and light in the world if the church never sets foot in the world.

Anyway, have you ever noticed that the new cool thing for all the externally focused churches out there is to put coffee houses in or near their churches? (Not just the place that's open Sunday mornings for people to get a cup of coffee on the way into the service - the type that is open all the time). That has always bothered me. Yesterday, I was thinking about Halloween and walking by a church coffee shop (don't ask), and it clicked. What message are we sending the world when we build a coffee shop in our church when there's a perfectly functional Starbucks right around the corner?

Don't drink the evil coffee.

There was a church coffee house owned by a church in the town where I went to college. It was the "cool place" for all the "I love Jesus, yes I do" people to hang out. It always drove me nuts, and now I get it.

I'm not sure the Church needs to be in the business of building "holy" coffee shops or other retail outlets inside their walls. I'm fairly convinced that the Church needs to put more people in the evil coffee shops, talking to evil people about the God who can fix their evil problem (But maybe using different words...).

It's so much easier to ask the world to come to us. "Come to our holy coffee shop." "Come to our Hallelujah Party." "Come to the movie at our church." What would happen if we invested the time, talent, and treasure it takes to build and run a "holy" coffee shop, and spent it training Christians to go into the world instead of begging the world to come to us? We'd have a lot more money left over to drink evil coffee, that's for sure.


Deb said...

Oh man did you give me my laugh for the day!

I love what you've written. (Partly because I still love trick-or-treating.) If that "irate homeschool moms" comment goes public, there could be some interesting meetings on the road to finding the right church.

I, on the other hand, will be smiling all day.

GUNNY said...

I don't know if the coffee at Starbucks is evil, but it sure is sinful the prices they charge!

What if we brought our "I love Jesus, yes, I do; I love Jesus, how 'bout you?" coffee cups to contain the evil coffee?

Does that sanctify it or am I just washing the outside of the cup in that oh so familiar pharisaical manner?
; )

Jeff Wright said...

Hey man. Have you looked into the Acts 29 Network? They certainly meet your doctrinally sound yet missionally minded criteria. I'm seriously considering affiliating with them if I plant a church. I also recently found the SBC's site Missional Network. Looks like they have some good resources there.

scott said...

I loved this article reminded me of "what it's really about" thankyou for your simple brilliance