I travel a lot. Most church consultants do. I never know what size town or city I’ll be in or where or when I’ll learn more about being the church. And I tend to find out what it means to be the church in the most unusual of places.

 A few months ago I found myself under the gun on a writing assignment. Now writing comes fairly naturally to me but finding the time to do it (without interrupting life with the people I love) isn’t nearly as simplistic as the writing itself. Sometimes while driving cross country I’ll get my Garmin GPS out and find a local coffee shop. These are great places to compose as I will seldom know anyone in that particular town. I get a big ol’ hot chocolate (I know it’s juvenile but I never learned to even slightly enjoy the taste of coffee. No matter how you dress it up when I take a swig the taste bud terrorists attack.) and settle in for a few hours of writing.

I entered a coffee shop in Bardstown, Kentucky (population 11,150), home of the Stephen Foster Story musical, Federal Hill, and the town that houses the first diocese of the west. As I looked around the room I was ambushed when I saw a few slips of paper on each of the tables. Each read…

 Beginning the Daily Grind with God at the Java Joint Café

8:30 a.m. Wednesday with the Reverend Kirk-Norris

 November 5, 2008  Lesson: Luke 13:1 – 9

            Repentence, this is the message.

The parable is a storied example of how you and I sometimes view our situations in life. We desire instant gratification but we forget and become impatient when the results we expect are slow in fruition. Our timing is NOT God’s timing. What we must remember is that all life, physical and spiritual, requires each of us to devote our time and our energy to the nurture and care of not only our own lives but also others on this journey. Then we will reap the fruits of our labors and the blessings of God Almighty!

I asked the barista what the deal was. She explained that this was a note from her pastor and that that church leader came in every Wednesday at 8:30 a.m. to do a very short teaching then the individuals seated around each table would answer questions that had been created.  

 If you’re a pastor you may want to give it a try. Below you’ll find some of the outcomes of such a ministry.:

  •  Word of mouth ministry. As people mention this to friends they too can join the group.
  • If you do this early enough, this is a great way for people too busy to attend a small group or who work evenings to be part of a small group.
  • Your church will be known as missional… your reputation will become that of a church that goes outside the church doors to be in the community and with the community.
  • This is a great way for church plant pastors and leaders to meet people who might become part of your new church.
  • Pastors are perceived as caring enough to go to those they want to connect with rather than demanding they come by the church building.
  • This is a win/win for the church and the coffee shop. The coffee shop has a full house without hiring a marketing agency and the church leader gets to sell those who show up the life transforming story of Jesus.

 How would you go about getting something like this going? Easy…

  • Choose a well-established coffee shop.
  • Drop by and ask the manager if they’d be open to something like this. Let them know you’d like to place slips of paper, a short paragraph, on each of the tables for customers to pick up through the week. Even if the manager would rather you not place these reminders on the tables, you can still meet weekly and have a very meaningful experience. If you get an affirmative answer to meeting there…
  • Begin promoting this opportunity with the people who make up your church.
  • Get commitments from at least 10 people, people who will commit to being involved for twelve months and will tell the people they work with and their friends. Ask these people to join you in this endeavor. Ask them to make it their goal to fill the place.  
  • Choose a starting date and get going.

 If your local coffee shop will join you in this, I don’t think you can go wrong.

 A word to church planters… This is a great way to become known in the community, especially if you’ve planted in a small or medium-sized town. I’d love to get to know you. Give me a call at 615-251-5862 or join me at the Exponential Conference in April.