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.

A Reason to Give Thanks

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite times of the year. Everything about the world seems just right. Red and golden leaves saunter to the ground, the air is crisp, and the atmosphere stirs with holiday excitement. I relish crackling fires with my favorite pipe and a good book, I delight in home cooked food shared around a bountiful table with people I love, and I’m grateful for ever flowing wine when the conversation turns political. It’s boot weather, after all, and cardigans are in vogue.

I suppose when I wrote everything about the world seems just right, I exaggerated. I do get carried away by Thanksgiving. Sometimes the Arminian side of the family comes to dinner, sometimes that one Baptist aunt gives you dirty looks for that glass of wine in your hand, and sometimes the dog sneaks into the kitchen and helps himself to the rolls (true story). And when the Arminians start Arminianing, the Baptists start raising eyebrows, and the dog eats your rolls, it all floods back to you: everything about the world isn’t right. In fact, it’s a lot worse than debates about free will, and dogs eating calories you don’t need. Those little moments are cracks in the perfect Thanksgiving dome we construct, reminders that, try as we may, we can’t make Thanksgiving day perfect. There’s too much wrong. In the periphery of our minds, we’re reminded sin exists, even in this make believe reality called “the perfect Thanksgiving.”

And so, when the cracks form and the awareness of everything wrong floods back into mind (which will probably happen when Uncle Frank inevitably says, “So, how about that election, huh?”), remember this crucial Thanksgiving fact: The Gospel is good news. “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” is something to be grateful for (Romans 8:1, emphasis added)! That Paul wrote Christ is reconciling “to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross” is good news (Colossians 1:20)!

More than beautiful leaves, crisp air, and holiday excitement, more than the fire, pipe, and good books, and even more than delicious food and loved ones, I give thanks for the Gospel. If the dog eats your rolls, and everything goes sideways, remember the gift of God’s grace, it’s more than a good reason to give thanks.

“And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him” (Colossians 3:17).