And Paul left the synagogue and went nextdoor to the house of a man named Titius Justus, a worshiper of God. ~Acts 18:7
About 2 years ago, I came across this passage in Acts, and it radically reoriented my ministry. I realized that I was called as a pastor not to wait for people to show up to me, but to seek them in their ordinary and daily lives. While it may be cliche, and the people of Waypoint may think it is ridiculous (Our newest core value is “Heckling Wes” after all), there is a rationale to my coffee addiction. It has provided a point of contact for me to bring the gospel to thirsty souls.
Plus it is the best $1.87 for free WiFi and clean bathrooms.
As a result I have come to the conclusion that where your pastor drinks coffee around Charlotte reveals a lot about his or her ministry:
Starbucks: Power-Broker Pastor–looking to move fast, franchise and cannot be bothered that the coffee is a bit over-priced and over-cooked if it means they get to have face time with the right movers and shakers in town. Though they will often have their earbuds in to participate in a conference call so it looks like they run a business.
Panera: Relational Pastor–the pastor who wants to invest in people’s lives by hearing their stories, as they get to share a half sandwich and soup and struggles together.
Caribou: ? Pastor–Not quiet sure whether they are a Starbucks pastor or Panera pastor, but long for a more rustic and mountainous pastorate where the pace is not as fast. They have a bit of disdain for the Starbucks pastor, but secretly deep down want to move a clip or two faster. (One note, if it is the Caribou on Park road, they tend towards the Panera Pastor)
Fabo (or Amelia’s for the NoDa folks): Artisan pastor–who hates to paint with a broad stroke, but is looking to creatively revitalize the church. They think they have found the cool little niche to ministry that if everyone would come and taste and see they’d be convinced.
Rhino: The PoMo pastor–I’ve heard they drink coffee in markets, worship in art galleries and raise their own chickens, but honestly I don’t know cause I’m not cool enough.
Not Just Coffee: Para-Church Pastor–they want to make sure folks know that they are not the church, but they want to help the church see that if they served more than just coffee they could reach a whole new market.
Julia’s: The Mission Pastor–seen dropping off a bunch of books but alway leaving with even more books.
All Nations Coffee: The International Mission Pastor–the conscious pastor who is trying to awaken their congregation by buying from an organic free trade roaster who purchases his coffee beans from a church planter in Uganda (Seriously, this barista is cool, check it out).
Summit: College Pastor–covering up his bald spot with a fedora while reading Niezsche and GQ’s article on Colbert.
Providence Sundries: The Overextended Pastor–(I know it’s a bar…er…so I’ve been told) but needs a bit more kick than coffee to get through the day.
Bottom of the Pot in the Hospital Lounge: The Chaplain–rushing through the hospital office in order to grab a quick swig from the styrofoam cup before pulling back the curtain to confront pain, suffering, loss and death.
Coffee from their Church’s Own Coffeeshop: The All Things to All People Pastor–highly caffeinated as they build there one-stop-shopping option, may also be found in the church’s book store autographing books, playing Halo in the teen center, prayer room, worship lounge and/or gymnasium.
Kuerig in the Study: The Intellectual Pastor–they do not have an “office” but a “pastor’s study” in order to deepen their relationship with Christ and footnote their manuscript over a single serving cup of coffee, often french roast.
Chuck’s Roast in the Neighborhood: Community Pastor–interested in investing in the people around them in order to tap into their passions and skills; therefore, they are often out walking the dog and talking to the people in their neighborhood.
Waterdowned Institutional Coffee in the Parlor from a 1982 Women’s Retreat mug: Budget conscious pastor–feels like they do not have the resources, time or freedom to do the ministry they had envisioned while in seminary.
I joke, because I hit each of these coffee options myself–sometimes three in a day. However, I was reminded this week as I walked into some difficult stories with people at these different venues that this is the privilege of being a pastor. I spend the days with a coffee cup in hand to remind me that it is through Christ alone that we will never thirst. Therefore it is my responsibility to be available to God and our community daily.
It is a sacred moment for me and a privilege to get to drink coffee with each and every person. And though I may be embarrassingly available to you when you find me in the above locations, know that it is done because Christ was embarrassingly available to me.
That is one thing the story of Christ reveals to me–God became embarrassingly available to us. Arriving in the form of a child, being subject to the same pains, longings, losses, tiredness, and hunger as us, the God of the universe embarrassed Himself. He was accessible to both the leaders of the city (Nicodemus) and the lowest. The lonely and the wealthy. The sick and the powerful. He pursued them…and even watched most of His followers leave Him (John 6:66), after which He painfully turned to his disciples saying, “You do not want to leave me, too, do you?”
Jesus’ schedule was not filled with agendas and administrative duties, but was free to be with the people for when the people were ready to turn their hearts towards Him. He met them at their places of need to quench their thirst, so I believe that these places around town are sacred places where Christ just might show up.
So whether you are a pastor or not, consider what is your availability to God and the people He has placed in your life? Why not go get a cup of coffee with someone this week?