Christianity and the Coffee Shop

Coffee is an integral part of life. It helps us get going in the morning. When rain is pouring, there’s nothing like a good book and a warm brew to soothe the soul. And when I want to catch up with an old friend, I usually do it over a cup of coffee. Coffee isn’t just part of a morning routine, nor is it solely for the sake of warm fuzzies. It adds real value to the Christian life and mission. Here are three reasons why.

1. The coffee-house is a mission field

I’m an introvert. Social gatherings zap my energy. When I address a large crowd, I don’t have to get to know you. There’s no eye contact involved. It’s more of an impersonal affair than one might think. One-on-one conversation with a complete stranger is the opposite. It’s not my thing. But, the coffee shop makes the whole process easier. We’re often bumping elbows, standing in line, and when we’re not doing that, we’re savoring coffee. It sort of brings us together in a weird, caffeinated way. The whole experience lends itself to small talk, and enjoying good coffee makes small talk easier. I can always ask what my small talking stranger is drinking, or what they’re reading. Or I can turn the conversation toward what I’m reading. And I’m usually reading something theological in a coffee shop because of the aforementioned introversion.

Coffee shops are mission fields. Bring a theology book or your Bible, and use it to turn the conversation toward the Gospel. Once the conversation has begun, play it cool. You don’t have to hit someone over the head with your goatskin ESV or Institutes of the Christian Religion. Ask questions. Be respectful. Spark real conversations. You might be surprised how something as seemingly shallow as coffee shop small talk can turn into hour-long discussions about life, God, and the Gospel.

2. Gathering for coffee sharpens iron

“Iron sharpens iron, and one person sharpens another” (Prov. 27:17 CSB). It might be a slogan verse by now, but it gained popularity for a good reason: it’s true. Talking God over quality java is a great opportunity for some iron sharpening. And that’s especially true if you intentionally spend time with older and/or wiser mentors. Coffee and theology go hand-in-hand, like Baptists and potlucks.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve sat around talking about God until closing time. I’ve been shooed out of the coffee shop more times than I can count, but every time I’ve been shooed away during some Godly fellowship, I’ve come away sharper, stronger, and encouraged. God uses fellowship like that to bless us.

3. Coffee helps us be sober-minded

I’m not saying drinking coffee is God’s will for your life, I’m just saying Peter literally wrote, “Therefore, with your minds ready for action, be sober-minded and set your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 1:13 CSB). There are many ways to be sober-minded, coffee just so happens to be one of my preferred ways. It fuels those missional conversations with strangers, and it enhances Godly fellowship. And given how much time I spent studying with coffee, my degree really should include the names of my local baristas.

Conclusion

The coffee-house, when approached with these points in mind, can be a distinctly gospel focused place. It can be a mission field, a place to refuel the soul and mind, and all the while a place for enjoying coffee. So what are you waiting for? Grab some coffee, share the Good News, sharpen some iron, and stay sober-minded!

Oh, one last thing… Don’t be the guy who orders herbal tea at the coffee shop. It ruins your witness.

Stay in the Word

I love books. I like reading them, collecting them, and sitting in my home library with some Old Toby and gazing upon them with satisfaction. I treasure many of the books in my collection, especially the ones I went through seminary with. Those books are like theology professors who follow me through life. They aid, comfort, challenge, and exhort. They often help me stay on the straight and narrow of orthodoxy. These books are my teachers and intellectual companions. Some have notes scribbled throughout, others bear the coffee stain battle scars of late night study sessions.

As much as I love my books, I have to sometimes remind myself they are complementary material. They’re not the main Book, not even close to it. The Book I’m talking about is the Bible. As good as Calvin, Luther, Sproul and Keller are, they can’t even touch the Bible.

I should probably mention, the inspiration for this little post came from an exchange I saw on Twitter a few minutes ago:

Dr. Sproul knows where true value lives: the Word. It’s “living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit” (Heb. 4:12). Our faith grows from hearing it (Rom. 10:17). The Word is a “lamp to my feet and a light to my path” (Psalm 119:105). Along those same lines, Paul wrote “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work” (2 Tim. 3:16-17). And I could go on for paragraph after paragraph, pointing to passages proclaiming the power of the Word, but I think you get the idea. The collective wisdom and knowledge contained within my library pales in comparison to the eternal riches found in the Word. Spurgeon encapsulated what I’m trying to say quite well, “Visit many good books, but live in the Bible.” All of my books, and all of yours are of great value. Don’t give them up. Visit them often, but take up residence in the Bible.

By all means, read and enjoy Institutes of the Christian Religion, but read more the Word written by the One who instituted the Christian religion. Cicero once said, “A room without books is like a body without a soul.” I say a soul without the Word is like a room without books.