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Archive for the ‘Coffee’ Category

Forcefield Up

Hey y’all, sorry it’s been so long since I’ve posted, just been real busy. I wanted to share a quick story though, that was brought to mind by John Shore’s blog.  I consider John a great blog-friend, even though we don’t quite see eye to eye on evangelism (you can see my comments about his book “I’m OK, You’re Not” in previous posts, and his comments as well, but I never did get a complimentary book for plugging it so much, so I still haven’t read it, unless I find it in a bargain bin or can borrow it from a friend).  Anyway, he was writing about how a lesbian co-worker of his was saddened when he became a Christian for fear that he would now have to hate her since he was a Christian. It’s a shame that people associate Christians with hate instead of with love, and I’ve had his experience too– a homosexual who got very defensive when they found out that I was an evangelical Christian, assuming that I have something in my Christian contract that says that I have to hate them.

Yet, I think the opposite often happens as well. Just today I went to my favorite coffee shop for a pound of Costa Rican. The woman who helped me looked a lot like what you would expect in a hip coffee shop: very Gothic, lots of torn clothes, many piercings, lots of tattoos, dyed-black hair, Perma-Scowl. Me, I had my preacher costume on today since I had just come from a preacher’s meeting: dockers, button down shirt, leather shoes, very conservative dress. I was there with my youth minister, so coming in the door we probably screamed “ministers!!!!!”. Conservative looking minister, Goth coffee clerk, you get the picture?

Anyway, she was very standoffish with me. Not very friendly, very curt answers, didn’t smile at my little jokes, didn’t encourage the conversation at all. Now, it could very well be that she was just not a friendly person. She might have had a bad day. Her lip ring might have been infected. She might have just thought that I was a dweeb.  I don’t really know. But I couldn’t help but wonder if some of the attitude was because I was dressed very conservatively or if she remembered me from the past and had seen me there reading my bible and knew that I was a Christian. I really wondered if she was cold to me because she disagreed with my lifestyle. My Christian lifestyle.  (And for the sake of this post, let’s just assume that she did, she now stands as a metaphor of many other encounters that I have had with those who are not believers when they find out or know that I am).

I should point out that when I am there I am VERY friendly, a very good customer, and I’m a good tipper, so any ‘tude that I got was not from being a jerk in the past. In fact, as those of you who know me can attest, I usually go out of my way to be nice to people who I think don’t like me. I kept talking and joking with her until she finally broke down a little and was nice because I was determined for her to see that Christians are usually nice people, even to those who would appear to be diametrically opposed to Christianity. That’s not the first time I’ve gotten the cold shoulder there from other clerks.  (and mind you, I live in a town that is very “evangelical Christian-ey”, so I’m sure that they have run into their share of jerky Christians).

I’ve seen this in other settings too. Someone will meet you and really like you and think that you’re a swell guy. But when they find out that you are a Christian they tense up and put up a forcefield, watching what they say and acting uncomfortable. Being a minister, it’s hard to hide the fact that I’m a Christian until they get to know me (since people usually ask “what do you do?” pretty early in the conversation. Once they find out they are a minister they tend to withdraw, apologize for cussing, and can’t wait to get away… even if they were perfectly fine before that.)

Why do you all think this is so? Is it because many Christians ARE jerks and therefore unChristians automatically think we all are? Does our implied acceptance of Christ’s commands to live a moral life make them feel uncomfortable? Do they think that we are judging them for not being Christians? Or is it just a dislike for Christians, warranted or not?

I’d love to know if you all have experienced this and why you think it is so.

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A friend tipped me off that there is a great bloglink on my friend’s blog Fisher of Men to another blog that must be a smart guy, because he thinks like me.  😎  Seriously, though, it is a wonderful blog and is definitely going on my “to read” list.  Check it out, it’s called evtales.

Some of you might not like either blogs, since they are both really passionate about evangelizing the lost and not just putting on a good show for the “seekers” who are looking for the church with the best band and the coolest coffee bar!  But for the rest of you, check ’em out.

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The Best Coffee Blend

ObsidianObsidian Blend from Caribou Coffee has got to be one of the best dark roast blends ever.  Dark, smooth, flavorful, not burned like the stuff you get from Charbucks.  Drinking it right now, loving it.  If you like a good dark roast that’s not burned, you’ll love Obsidian.

 Just wish there was a Caribou Coffee nearby, but it gives me something to look forward to when I make it to a city cosmopolitan enough to have a CC store.

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Coffee WarI’ve really been thinking a lot about church outreach, relevancy, evangelism and all that. I don’t know why, but this has been a theme in my life for the last few weeks. You know how every once in a while you read about a topic and then it seems to be everywhere: T.V. specials, newspaper articles, sermons, etc. Well, that’s where I am with this issue.

The issue in a nutshell: does “anything go” when it comes to getting people into the church? Here are some ways that this has come up:

  • Churches that use sexy advertising and suggestive sermon titles that cater to our culture’s fascination with sex. Is it OK for the church to send out ads that look like something a strip club would use if in the end folks end up coming to the church for a biblical message?
  • Outhouse outreach. Ok, I doubt that any church is really going to put a picture of their bathroom on a postcard or billboard to get them into the church. But the website of the church with the pimped out potty DID say that you could invite people to your church by telling them about the bathroom. Don’t tell ’em about Jesus, that might turn them off: tell them about the cool bathroom.
  • Youth group gross-outs. Apparently this is a new trend in youth ministry. You make a “Fear Factor” type outreach where you get kids in the door by having them eat foul foods and do crazy stunts.
  • Finally, even at a former church that I used to serve at, I saw this happening (I didn’t have a voice in whether this is a good idea, so don’t blame me!). The elders decided to accept the decision of the youth committee to cancel VBS and use that money to make a “media room” because kids are more attracted to video games than they are bible stories.

I could go on, but you get the idea. Is it OK to use worldly lures to get people in the door of the church so that they can then hear the Gospel? Let me say that on the surface, I would say, “Sure, if folks come in the door and hear the Gospel, who cares how they get there?” After all, getting people saved is what it’s all about.

Here’s my problem, and the coffee tie-in. While on vacation last year I visited a church during their early service on Sunday. So, at 11 AM I was sitting in a Panera bread coffee shop: the “Golden Hour” of most church services when most Christians are at worship. Normally I’m with those Christians, so it was strange to be out and about at the one daylight hour of the week that sees the fewest numbers of Christians in the general public. Basically I was a Christian out among the heathens.

What I saw was startling. There in the packed Paneras were a lot of very happy, contented heathens (I’m using that term humorously, don’t be offended!). They were drinking their good coffee, eating their bagels, reading their paper, chatting with their spouses; having a relaxing Sunday morning brunch.

I got thinking about all the churches that are trying to reach those very heathens with good coffee bars in the church. I thought: there is NO way that we could reproduce this setting to attract these folks. Our coffee is not going to be better than Panera’s. Our pastries will not be as yummy. Our environment will not be more relaxing than a Panera bread on Sunday morning.

If we are going to reach these folks, we will not do it by appealing to their love of coffee, bagels, or a casual dining experience. The only way to attract them is to show them that they are sinners in need of saving and then point them to Jesus and his redemptive work. Or as Paul said: 1 Cor 2:1 When I came to you, brothers, I did not come with eloquence or superior wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God. 2 For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. 3 I came to you in weakness and fear, and with much trembling. 4 My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, 5 so that your faith might not rest on men’s wisdom, but on God’s power. NIV

In other words, we are not going to reach the world by being better at offering the things the world does, but by giving them the things that only the church can: Christ and him crucified. Forgiveness. Redemption. Joy. Holiness.

We will not be able to out-sex the world: the world is too good at sex. Our worship will not be able to be more entertaining than what the world offers, Hollywood is too good at that. We will not be able to out-fun the world, Disney is better at that than we are. We will not be able to make better coffee than the world, Caribou Coffee is much better than anything we can brew.

But, we can offer them Christ. Hear me out: I don’t have a problem with coffee bars in the church, cool worship, or tricked out toilets. My only beef is that we need to be bringing people in with Christ, not those things.

If we were doing our job in evangelizing during the week, leading people to Jesus to be saved, then they would WANT to come to church to hear more about their God. Not because we have great coffee. Or toilets. Or gyms. Or video games. But because we have the Word of God.

What do you think?

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