December 06, 2016

Morning Joe

I was greeted by coffee wafting through the front door of a large church. The beverage menu was displayed behind the coffee bar and the servers were ready to take my order. In the foyer people sat around small tables and leaned against the wall as they shared their morning cup of java. This could have been any coffeehouse in America and there was no hint that I had just walked into a place of worship. At the beginning of the church service the membership director announced visitors would receive a voucher for a free cup of coffee if they filled out a visitor card and dropped it in the offering plate. One can argue that selling coffee in the church foyer, or offering a voucher during announcements is no big deal. I’m not so sure that Jesus would buy that argument. “Jesus entered the temple area and drove out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves. “It is written,” he said to them, “‘My house will be called a house of prayer,’ but you are making it a ‘den of robbers’” (Matt 21:12-13 NIV).


Steve Corey said...


-----My guess is that this church is not really interested in coffee revenue. The outfitting of a coffee bar shows they most likely have a generous budget. The cost of coffee is probably chump-change to them. I can see one of two possible reasons for the charge. Maybe they want it to feel totally like a coffee bar, and not at all like a church. You’ll have to charge for the coffee to give that effect. If this is so, I wonder if you missed something or if they missed something. Were they selling bagels, too? Maybe hotcakes and sausages? The other possibility is that maybe they are working their way up to charging admission for the church show. Over the years I’ve noticed how church-shapers work by degrees from the bearably innocent to the utterly ridiculous, always boiling the frog slow enough that it stays put in the pot. They introduce subtle changes, for measuring reaction, noting and dealing with “trouble causers”, and determining which part of the camel they can fit under the tent next. This kind of church leader gives me the creeps.
-----I think all this is a testament to how far we’ve come. In earlier centuries, church reform was usually about one sort of doctrinal “correction” or another. Today it is all about marketing for membership. If the edification of the believers is increased by a degree or two of spiritual glory, then well and fine. But more spiritual is not the feeling I get inside these giant oat-meal churches. I feel more like my old days at the Joplin Stockyard where big herds of nameless cattle are pushed into various pens headed for unknown destinations. Nobody who worked there knew any more than their little piece of the duty. And all the nameless cattle just followed the path of least resistance, which was mostly built into the facility.

Love you all,
Steve Corey

Pumice said...

It sounds like you have been visiting the same church I have been at the last few weeks.

Grace and peace.

Gail Marvel said...

My church offers free help-yourself coffee and doughnuts. I hope no one tells them the trend is to charge!