Trying The Coffee In Church!

Café Culture in the U.K. is huge. The choice of cafés in my home town is massive – not just the mainstays of Costa, Starbucks and Café Nero but also more local, individual cafés that make coffee that is equally as good.  Although when I did order a macchiato in a place other than Starbucks I discovered that Starbucks defines a macchiato very differently!  It was a bit of a shock, so be warned!  What if your local café gave birth to church? What would that be like? Would you go?   Indeed, would the coffee taste any better?

cafechurchphotos

Church In Coffee Shops, Can It Work?

When I walk into a café it’s not just great coffee that I look for but the ambiance, the feel of the establishment and (of course) the pastries! When all of this is done well, it tells me that this is a good place to sit, relax and unwind – and perhaps even think about faith issues.

When I go to church as a disciple the welcome, the worship and the preaching are the most important to me.  I want to be inspired, experience God’s presence and be equipped for my week ahead.  But also I want to know that I am genuinely loved genuine ‘by God and by the congregation’.

So can Café Church and ‘Decaf’ church (regular church) be a marriage made in heaven?

Continuing with this week’s theme of exploring fresh expressions of church, different and emerging forms of church that engage contemporary culture. Café Church has been around for some time.  Brilliantly.  Did you realise that?

Costa Coffee is encouraging its venues to be used after hours for this purpose around the UK. Organisers have to guarantee that a certain number of cups of coffee will be sold (or pay the difference) and Costa Coffee provides the counter staff.-http://www.cafechurch.net

The Café Church Network helps organise and network Café Churches together. It is also the first port of call if you are considering using Costa or somewhere else. But is this just a way of doing traditional church in a different setting?

What Café Church is not…

Café Church is not ‘traditional service’  enjoyed sitting around tables with nice drinks and biscuits. Although perhaps this is a good starting place!  A first step that takes the congregation with you and begins the change towards something more radical.

What Cafe Church is…

Café Church is like sitting in a coffee shop with your friends.  Some places do Café Church in the church building whereas others utilise the offer and opportunity Costa gives us. I myself have only experienced Café Church in the church building and would love to experience it in its natural habitat, so to speak!

The mode of delivery is informal, collaborative and focuses on the discipleship of those that come, rather than what the preacher has brought to deliver to people.  Cafe Church is done with, not at the people.

What would you consider is the most popular form of worship?  All age?  One with a band? Communion?  Traditional?  Hands-down one of the most popular services in the churches that I look after is Café Church. It is among the best attended and gets the broadest engagement. Preparation is reasonably low maintenance, because the focus is more on the engagement of the congregation to the content that is being delivered, than the person in the front delivering it. The experience of worship is more collaborative and perhaps engages people more deeply?

You may well have noticed that lots of people do not come through our doors on Sunday morning that regularly. However coffee shops in general are brimming with people all of the time and many people understand the context, social expectations and rules of a coffee shop more than they understand church.  Somehow it seems less threatening.

It’s exciting to be part of a church and denomination that has seized this potential, stepped out of its building and comfort zone at times and gone into uncharted waters, to get involved in what God is already doing.

So your Café church is going well!

What next?  The mistake the church made at some point in our 2000 years of history was to become complacent.  In the mindset of Christendom not nearly enough people considered that this might not last forever and that perhaps people might stop coming to church. Thus we find ourselves where we are today.

So your Café Church is working – have you considered what next?  Is your vision just for the Café Church in front of you, or are you thinking ‘what would this be like if it grew like a plant’?  Or ‘what would small group discipleship look like done in a Café Church context’?

There is a myriad of what ifs and possibilities, crazy dreams and logical step by step ideas that could be explored. But what is the Holy Spirit saying to you right now about your Café Church?  The one you’re involved in or the one you are about to be involved in? Whatever we do let’s not be complacent, let’s not presume what works now will also work in 20 years time. But instead let’s keep listening and responding to the community around us and to God in the power of the Holy Spirit.

Discover More About Cafe Church

If you’re interested and want to see examples of cafe church please check out Heathfield Cafe Church or Stoke Newington Cafe Church I encourage you to watch the video using the links below, or to discover where your local cafe church is please click here.

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