Resurgent Church is loved and appreciated by many in our city. It is also misunderstood and slandered by many in our city. One of the latest accusations is “….and can you believe they serve espresso coffee???!!!”
As if that is the ultimate disgrace. And of course, now there is a blog that has gone viral written by a grieving women (whom i have not stopped praying for since i read her blog) who lost her husband to cancer and feels that people do not need more coffee in church, they need more Jesus!! Yes, yes and yes.
This blog has been reposted by thousands of people who think that coffee should not be served in a church because it takes away from Jesus as the focus.She points out in her darkest days she has not been thinking about what the decor will feel like, or the lights or the coffee. And why would she? She is in the deepest of grief and is navigating two babies and life without her husband.
However (not to detract from her pain) but there will be thousands, if not millions, of people walking into local churches this weekend whom do not yet have the anchor of Jesus to weather their own storms that may come their way. This woman has Jesus. Millions and millions do not know Him yet.
So if some of those people who do not know Jesus yet, courageously, sheepishly, inquisitively, desperately, or cynically walk into a local church this weekend, one aspect of a church foyer that may make them feel a sense of comfort, a sense of hospitality or even a welcomed diversion to the awkward ‘what do I do next?’ moment of their first experience inside a church ever … may just be the sweet reprieve of the line at the RBar (our espresso coffee bar). There is something about standing in a line that says ‘this line gives me a few minutes to get my bearings’, meet another person waiting for their coffee, a barista leans over and welcomes them, takes their name and whilst they wait for their coffee our greeting team strikes up conversation and welcomes them to Resurgent Church. Genuine connection can happen here.
It feels Good. Safe. Normal.
For the flustered mum that has navigated no sleep, a sick baby, chaos running out the door, and screaming kids “mum I am hungry”, walks into our foyer and finds an invitation to the Breakfast Bar where she can grab her kids some bagels and jam, toast and vegemite (yep we are Aussies in Montreal), raisin toast and fresh butter. Does she need toast more than Jesus? Ummmm no. Does the toast in her belly, and the jam satisfyingly being licked off the kids fingers help her morning feel a little bit more ‘normal’ and her heart ready to hear the gospel because she actually got to eat and settle her kids who are no longer hungry? Could this serve her well walking into a worship service?
Could the the spirit of hospitality felt around the way the double shot vanilla latte was served to a first time guest actually dignify them, give them a taste of welcome, a space where they can feel seen, heard, loved and nourished. Could the excellence around the whole foyer moments that the ‘Queen of Sheba’ experienced when she walked into the House of God move people to understand the nature and character of God more?
1 Kings 10:4 When the queen of Sheba saw all the wisdom of Solomon and the palace he had built, 5 the food on his table, the seating of his officials, the attending servants in their robes, his cupbearers, and the burnt offerings he made at[a] the temple of the Lord, she was overwhelmed.
6 She said to the king, “The report I heard in my own country about your achievements and your wisdom is true. 7 But I did not believe these things until I came and saw with my own eyes. Indeed, not even half was told me; in wisdom and wealth you have far exceeded the report I heard
Hospitality can be defined as “the quality or disposition of receiving and treating guests and strangers in a warm, friendly, generous way.” In the New Testament, the Greek word translated “hospitality” literally means “love of strangers.”
Hebrews 13:2 Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.
A good coffee, breakfast on a Sunday morning, meals cooked for people having babies, open homes, invitations to lunch, leaning in to lean times in people’s lives …. it all expresses the spirit of hospitality. We spend thousands of dollars a year on hospitality in our services. We love the fruit of the generous spirit around this part of church life. We do believe that these strangers (guests) can become family over these ‘foyer/coffee’ moments of connection.
We see friendships form over these moments in our foyer. We see new connections between business banker host and ‘first time to church in 20 years entrepreneur’ strike up a conversation in the line for coffee. We see ‘stay a little longer and connect’ invitations happen because our coffee bar is open. We see tears shed, people held in a warm embrace. We see laughter, with coffee in one hand and another hand extended in destiny defining hand shakes. We see volunteers who served tirelessly since 6am (some on public transport since 4:45am) be rewarded with that caffeine hit just before service starts so they have the energy for the next few hours to continue to give Jesus their best. We see hands cupped around a paper cup with an R logo, and eyes locked onto one another for authentic moments of connection that matter as much as the worship and the Word of God preached. It all matters. More than Jesus? No. Part of the journey for some to find Him? Yes.
Would Jesus have drank a double shot latte if offered to him with their own house blend? Does He turn up whether the coffee is there or not? Absolutely. Does the grieving widow care about the coffee? Maybe not. Does good coffee served in the foyer of a church automatically say that we think Jesus is unimportant in this Sunday morning equation? Never.
Ok, so maybe the one thing that annoys me is in worship one hand raised to heaven, with the other hand holding a coffee. Yes. Just a pet peeve. Give Jesus your ALL in that moment. However who am I to even judge that moment? What if it is a someone’s first time ever that they have raised in one hand in worship to Jesus with an unfolding revelation in their heart that yes their hands are holy, that they are the righteousness of God, and that they are worthy of being in His presence, so they half raise their hand, and yes the coffee cup in the other is their ‘safe place’ behind which they are still hiding a little from the fully abandoned, both hands raised in absolute surrender … but it is all a journey and all a a process. So who am I to judge?
And who are we to judge anyone? So all I am asking is that if we want to repost the story of a grieving widow to highlight her need for Jesus. And a need for churches and leaders to be even more mindful of who could walk into their churches next Sunday. Do it! Repost away.
But if its to criticize, with a cynical spirit, all the churches that serve good coffee on a Sunday. Then please don’t judge. The same way we wont judge churches who serve Tim Hortons coffee …… ha ha ha … just touching the SACRED COW OF CANADIAN CHURCHES!!!!!
And for those launching a new church like we are … do i think $1500 on a good espresso machine is worth the investment? Yes yes yes. In fact, does anyone want to invest into one for our new West Island Launch next month? Because i truly do think that good coffee can enhance the spirit of welcome, hospitality, love and nurture that the local church holds as high value. Maybe if Jesus sat around in our foyers with first time visitors, sinners and saints, He would have held a skinny cap in his hand instead of the finest wine that He miraculously made out of water (but that’s for another controversial blog).
So keep calling us the coffee snobs of Montreal. I am ok with that. And if the greatest insult right now is ‘they are one of the espresso serving churches’, then bring it on. Jesus saves. And coffee makes us nicer people on a Sunday morning!! (Just joking …kind of)