“Every Church should try one!” These were the words quoted by John Roux, the Executive Pastor at Northfield Methodist, as we listened to their coffee Shop story, at our discussion evening at Omniakerk, in Primrose on Tuesday, 3rd March! They have 10 years of experience in this and we can learn much from them.
We also heard from Rev Michael Bishop via YouTube of their experience with their Upper Room Coffee Shop (See www.fresh-bread.co.za/videos : Upper Room coffee shop).
Topics covered included: Hearing God’s call and heart for people in the new paradigms; understanding the context; discerning the need for a coffee shop; the advantages for this ministry to people and for fellowship; the purpose and role it plays within the congregation’s life; the target audience and clientele; economic viability; staffing and/or volunteers; etc.
God is certainly with us as we think and pray about new ways of being and doing church.
I have visited many church coffee shops, from the Church of the Savior’s Cafe in Washington DC, to the Coffee Shop at Mosaiek in Johannesburg, to Northfield’s Coffee Shop in Benoni, to Woord en Lewe in Boksburg, to Rosebank Union’s one, to churches who offer free coffee before services like at ‘The Crossing’, and so many more. Each of them has a story and it is always beneficial to visit these and hear their stories! The culture of the people we are serving love stories - especially telling their story - over a cup of coffee. So let’s listen to each other’s stories and never compare, but be enriched.
This article’s purpose is to share some ideas and guidelines, yes, but mostly to encourage you to ‘write’ the story with God for your context!
What did my Facebook friends have to say? Many perspectives:
- Daleen: Great idea! The one at Hatfield Church is a meeting place for always busy and a favourite meeting place
- John: In 1982 several of us attended Evening Communion Service in downtown Coffee Shop which was part of the ministry of the Church of the Savior in Washington. A special experience! Something different as a ministry of presence. Wasn't there something like that in Johannesburg in the 60s or 70s?
- Bev: the best one that I saw was in Belfast Northern Ireland, just high round tables of people connecting, we ran the one at the evening service at Northfield Methodist for a while, it is a lot of pressure when the service comes out and the congregants often don't realise the waiters are earning tips only and often don't tip. Makes it difficult to run as a service cos staff get disgruntled. I say make it a connecting place and it has to be quick and snappy.
- Dawn: when I was in the UK I went to a few Methodist churches and all of them ran coffee shops where light lunches and other snacks were served. The staff were mostly women with some men, all volunteers from the congregation. The Common Ground church in Rondebosch, Cape Town has a very successful and very popular coffee shop…
- Scott: (A lady) from my office used to run a coffee shop, she is strongly against, give her a call … she is really worth chatting too
- Gail: If your church community is large enough, it is a great idea. I visited a church once with a wonderful coffee shop. It also had a lounge section with some reading material. As you walked into their foyer, you couldn't help but follow the aroma. The atmosphere was very special. Im not sure if they were open all week or just on Sundays.
DIFFERENT STYLES AND PURPOSES: Why have a Coffee Shop? Who will use Coffee Shop?
When embarking on the adventure, it is important to work out, as best one can, why we are doing this (Is this a calling and contextually required), and for whom (What age group or what groups?) and by what means (What will be the most meaningful for those one is serving?)
My reflections are that there are different expressions of what we are talking about, and it does not matter. Each community will follow the Holy Spirit’s leading and express their call as a unique expression of God’s love for God’s world. Some are on the church property, others are in a shopping mall or area. Sometimes it is simply coffee and chat after Sunday services, while others are run during the week only, while others a mix of these as and when required. Some, like the Church of the Savior in Washington DC in the 1980’s, and Zac’s Place in the UK in the 2010’s regard the ‘shop’ as church. The call from God and the context shapes the purpose and style.
THE VALUE OF A COFFEE SHOP MINISTRY
Ministry or Fund Generator? There is little doubt that any form of Coffee shop cannot be seen to be the primary fundraising means for the congregation. It may make a contribution, and in some cases make a loss, for the congregation!
- Jane: good idea but wont make any money
- Gillian: It's an excellent meeting place, but it is not a money making project. It has to be regarded as a ministry
If one seeks to have a Coffee Shop as a generator of funds for the church one may well miss the point of authentic ministry:
IT INCREASES THE SIZE OF OUR WELCOME:
- Serving coffee and refreshments on Sundays to the people who are there is wonderful and a blessing in all their forms. The welcome of new people and visitors with the opportunity to chat over free refreshments is used in many congregations and it is a significant reflection of God’s heart for the outside.
- Judy: I LOVE the coffee shop at Rosebank Union Church. It is well used by churched, unchurched and dechurched people and provides a safe, non-threatening platform for all sorts of conversations…
- Enid WoodHoly Ground Coffee Bar at Bryanston Methodist... (is) still a huge success and enables us to enjoy friendship & refreshments, at the same time. It's especially helpful for new people, who come to church.
IT WIDENS IMPACT OF OUR INCLUSIVE FELLOWSHIP:
- Coffee shops that are run on church properties seem to, almost exclusively, serve the members which is great for fellowship and for enabling community. Many congregations have space around tables where their small groups meet after worship serves for sharing their stories, for accountability and application of what was learned from the message that day. This really works as long as it has enough turnover to keep it economically viable, they have the ‘buy in’ from the members, and/or is in the church budget as a ministry of the church to cover the expenses.
- Lloyd: Church is a community thing, that brings people together for a reason, why not share our Lord with others over coffee, possible change from the atmosphere of Church. I personnaly have no problem with coffeshops on church premises as long as its not in the Sanctuary / church itself
- Tracey: New Day Edenvale were checking the option of people being able to view or hear the sermon whilst in the coffee shop... an option to reach the unreached...
- Herman: The Coffee shop Bryanston Methodist style is a great success for Sunday after services, only the cakes are at cost, coffee is free. Great fellowship option.
- Jenny (Vancouver, Canada): Coffee should be in machines, self-help style. Meet and greet. Lessens the pressure. One person can manage set-up.
- Alison: Rosebank union has coffee shop which is always popular. They extended service to a dinner after evening service - just two options. We used to stay quite often when all of us went to evening service. Coffee is fine but something nice to eat much better
- Bradley: Community is worth the free cappuccinos we give at the Crossing. A time might come for covering costs but really has worked for us
- Estelle (UK): wonderful idea. We have made so many friends at the little church where we live through going to their coffee morning. So I think it would be a wonderful place for people to meet. God bless.
IT LENGTHENS THE REACH OF OUTREACH:
- A coffee shop can be run by a Missional church is a means of connecting with Unchurched and De-churched that has high visibility to the public, offers something unique.
- Michael: am sure this verse is missing from Genesis. The God said: “Let us make the humble coffee bean, because with this bean they will do much evangelising!”
- Jean: Kameeldrif NG church has a wonderful coffee shop. The shop is there for people in the area as well as the people in the community. It's open the whole week and not just Sunday, so offering to the smaller farming community a fellowship place. There is also a social worker on the premises. This offers her clients a place to sit that is welcoming and restful while she does evaluations of children.
NOW FOR SOME PRACTICAL FACTORS
With the insights from John Roux, the Executive Pastor at Northfield Methodist, and Billy Hindshaw, the Executive Administrator at Rosebank Union, here are some practical factors. These include:
- going beyond excellence in products and services,
- being high in its relationship and hospitality emphasis,
- Creating a safe, and aesthetically pleasing space for ministry, courses in the evenings, gatherings, etc.
- having a clear Kingdom vision,
- having a called and appointed champion;
- having a dedicated set of staff volunteers who buy into the vision and have a pastoral and apostolic heart/calling;
- Having a set of investors to invest in it for low economic returns to themselves for capital costs: equipment, Cappuccino machines/ chairs & tables etc.
- Having a business model and budget: Use business talent in church to help, e.g. people in hospitality industry
- Knowing the target market and context: relevant menus and affordable food given the context, costs and charges, watching both wastage and shrinkage
- Choosing the location: The situation for people flow and visibility is key. Will it be on or off the church campus? Is it available space anywhere or will one make intentional space?
- Complies with Health and Safety regulations approval by council, specifically if cooking/baking on the premises.
- Staff, either full-time or part-time who are called, equipped and trained if serving cappuccino’s, etc.
- Being clear on the days and hours: When and for how long the shop runs or only on certain days
- Having the full buy-in and oversight of senior minister and the executive to keep the finger on the pulse
- Having regular business meetings with the Coffee Shop team
- Making sure that the marketing is clear, strategic and repeated regularly
WRAP IT UP:
I end where John started us: “Every church should try one!” There is a warning: Let it be real! Not just real coffee, but real people doing real relationships for the real reason: Jesus and God’s Kingdom!
Here’s the deal: This is my story of my thoughts and reflections, so let me know your story!