Sunday, November 12, 2006

Coffee and Tools

Withth the growing trend of church-operated coffeehouses springing up across the country, it seems that, as with many things, the successful, the failed, the forthright, and the pretentious have developed. Perhaps the caffeinated tide flows in response to the overwhelming growth of the missional and emergent movements, especially in metropolises where relational evangelism has become a response to the perceived pyramid style of some large church bodies. Whatever the reason, the unfortunate byproduct of this cascade of businesses is the propagation of coffeehouses that simply don’t meet the standards of those run outside of church regulation. Relationships are not cultivated beyond those already existing within the particular church, art is not embraced as a unique form of communication, and these businesses are not the community centers that they are intended to be. Secondarily, this creates a misuse of church budgets, an aversion from musical and visual artists, and a general air of disinterest. Granted, the idea itself is a phenomenal one. Coffeehouses, after all, are wonderful tools with which to foster discussion and a safe, understanding environment. They are historically attributed with the creation of the first newspapers.

While the church as a whole should be discouraged from being a subculture rather than a counterculture, if this trend is going to continue, it ought to continue in a manner that cultivates community, relationships, knowledge, and an attitude of support. Use of the vogue is does not guarantee the patronization of the public or the opportunity to bring “Judea and Samaria” to you. Here are a few ideas that can be put into practice:

    -Remember that this is a business created to generate opportunities to share faith. It is not an auto-evangelizer. Plus, smart business practices (returned profits, great customer service, networking) still apply.

    -An active community presence can create a larger customer base, and build great relationships with other business owners.

    -Have a knowledgeable staff. It’s a coffeehouse, so don’t just have someone to pour Folgers and Folgers decaf. Encourage your staff to always learn about coffee, tea, and your other products.

    -Support artists. The poetry of art can have an impact that a four-point sermon cannot. Treat your artists well, and network with them.

    -If you’re going to have music, create the right environment for artists. Good songwriters and performers usually prefer a little help with sound, an emcee, and good publicity (that is, appropriate to your customer base). Imagine what would help them connect well with an audience, and if you don’t know, ask.

    -Be willing to spend money. Artists often will play for free, but don’t expect that of them. For many artists, that is their only income. Plus, good coffee doesn’t come cheap. It went up 50¢ per pound in fall 2006.

    -Have good theology, and a loving tongue. You will, if you cultivate discussion (and you should), run into all sorts of ideas. Know when to speak (and when to be silent) and what to say.

    -Understand that there are many things you don’t know. Visit successful coffeehouses. See what works and what doesn’t (and why). Know how to apply this to your customer base.

    -Please be creative and don’t use God’s name in vain. There are enough places called Holy Ground and enough clever knick-knacks with ten-cent variations of our Lord’s name and his words in existence.

    -As with all things, go with God’s leading. Always prepare the staff and operations of this business with prayer and meditation.


and Blogger Missional Jerry addressed the Senate...

awesome post

gonna have to link it this week

5:18 PM, November 12, 2006  
and Blogger adam addressed the Senate...

great post, bro.

when we began our church, we debated whether or not to own/opperate a coffee shop for similar reasons you quote in the post. ultimately, we opted not to since there were already 2 thriving shops in the area and we didn't want to be seen as "them christians who are competing for our business!" i think that's a worthy thought to consider as well.

7:45 AM, November 13, 2006  
and Blogger Whipple addressed the Senate...

Thank you both. And Adam~ yes indeed to local economy.

10:28 AM, November 13, 2006  

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