Why Your Church Should Care about Its Coffee

Photo by Robert Nelson on Unsplash

Why Your Church Should Care about Its Coffee


I came across a recent article called Why the Church Doesn’t Need Anymore Starbucks.

In it the author tells a deeply personal story of pain and loss. Her husband died after a long and difficult battle with cancer, leaving behind 2 young children, and she opens up about how arduous the whole experience was.

And in that time of great trial and suffering, she relays how their faith in Jesus was all the comfort and strength she could ask for.

Praise God. What a gift it is to know him!

But for some reason she frames this experience against the trend of churches today putting a premium on great hospitality.

The church does not need any more coffee bars. They don’t need the lighting. They don’t need the concerts. They don’t need the trend setting. They don’t need couches on the platform. They don’t need to dim the lights to attract people. Tell a person how God has changed your life. Show them the love of God through your actions. Demonstrate how God helped you through the darkest of storms.

Why does it have to be either/or?

One of the things I think we need to be careful about today is pitting things against each other that are in reality quite compatible. And (thank goodness) great coffee and telling people about Jesus is in fact totally compatible!

Great coffee and telling people about Jesus is in fact totally compatible!

In fact, great coffee or food can really set the stage for conversations about Jesus. And radical hospitality tells a story even before we open our mouths. 

My family is all about Jesus. We love Jesus and we want everyone to know Jesus intimately. But if you come over to our house for dinner, we aren’t going to say to you, “What, did you expect food? Who cares about food? All you need is Jesus!”

No, of course not. That would be weird. 

Hopefully as a sign of loving respect would we try to present and host well. Because we want guests to feel cared about! 

This is the same principle that churches should be following. We shouldn’t expect people to mortify themselves to be a part of our parish. If we do expect that, we will only minister to a small group of the spiritually advanced. But churches are called to reach those who are far away.

We shouldn’t expect people to mortify themselves to be a part of our parish.

Let’s be real here, people are never going to come to your church only for the coffee. They can get that themselves at Starbucks.

And they aren’t going to come to be entertained; they can watch NFL Sunday or go to the movies for that.

But people who feel comfortable will linger longer than they otherwise would, and that’s where conversations can happen that lead people to coming to know Jesus. And people who feel engaged will listen attentively and longer.

Don't we want that? 

I’m glad that the author and her husband and her children had Jesus to rely upon in her hour of deepest need. But what about the billions of people who don’t know him? What would they have to fall back on in those dark moments?

If we can reach out to those people in ways that attract their attention and make them feel engaged, maybe we can ultimately give them what is the point of everything we do: Jesus.

Pope Francis said in Evangelii Gaudium that an evangelizing community "gets involved by word and deed in people’s daily lives; it bridges distances, it is willing to abase itself if necessary, and it embraces human life, touching the suffering flesh of Christ in others.”

Are we willing to bridge distances? Are we willing to abase ourselves if it means people coming to know Jesus?

Can we start by at least making some great coffee? 

Radical hospitality tells a story even before we Christians open our mouths. — Josh Canning

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