Java and Jesus is match made in caffeinated heaven
GREELEY, Colorado (AP) ” Less than 10 minutes remained before Pastor Chris Davis called the service to order, and something was missing: Almost nobody sat in their seats.
Instead ” and in stark contrast to some worship centers ” the masses stood relaxed in small groups throughout the building, some letting out a laugh while others simply nodded to a good conversation.
A new tradition is brewing in this congregation, and it begins with the steaming cups of coffee clasped in nearly each person’s hand.
“Coffee in sermon is suggested,” said Davis, offering a lighthearted joke before his service. “It might keep you awake during the rest of it.”
Relying on the caffeinated properties of the drink has become much more than a means to simply stay awake at 9:24 a.m. on Sunday mornings. Members of Our Savior’s Lutheran Church aim to take their outreach efforts to a new level this year with the opening of the Kairos site of Our Savior’s Lutheran Church in Greeley ” a coffee shop run by the church that doubles as a worship center on Sunday mornings.
The idea came as the church looked to reach out to the growing community in western Greeley. While Our Savior’s Lutheran Church’s current facility was in the heart of Greeley when it opened in 1958, the city’s westward growth has left the congregation at a loss for outreach opportunities, according to church spokesman Mark Olsen.
To accommodate this growth, the church plans to open a second location near 95th Avenue and U.S. 34 Business Route ” though groundbreaking won’t start until funding and other details are worked out. The hope is, Davis said, that Kairos will serve as a bridge between the two projects while reaching out to people who would normally not enjoy a traditional church service.
Indeed, the idea of a worship service at a coffee shop caught Tiffany McCall by surprise.
“I couldn’t find it; I couldn’t picture ” I was like ‘What? They’re going to do what in a coffee shop?’ said McCall, who attended a service with her children Aven, 4, and Coen, 2. “I didn’t understand it at all.”
Wearing brown shoes, jeans, a blue button-up shirt and a blue sport coat, pastor Davis looks like any other attendee. But a few minutes before picking up his guitar ” an instrument he often plays during the service ” Davis said it was remarkable how the coffee shop came together.
It started as a sports bar and restaurant, but with a little work the building has transformed into a sanctuary. One by one, members of Our Savior’s Lutheran Church volunteered to renovate the building ” some offering their business management skills and others their carpentry talents.
Kevin Trout, a teacher who is well-versed in plumbing, said the idea of a worship service in a coffee shop seemed a little far-fetched but he decided to lend a hand.
“I think it just kind of gives you a new sense of respect for people coming out and giving their time and helping out,” Trout said in a telephone interview. “It’s a good feeling.”
Davis said having the congregation create the coffee shop was important. After all, he said, the key to success comes in the details ” right down to the time worship begins every Sunday.
Fully aware of the need to set a memorable starting time, Davis searched through Chapter 9 of nearly every book of the Bible for a verse that would prove unforgettable. He stumbled upon Mark 9:24, embedded in a story of a man who proclaims his belief in Jesus and then asks Jesus to help heal his sick daughter.
“And I think that’s why we all come to worship is that sense of we come in faith knowing that our faith is never fully complete,” Davis said.
“That’s what’s kind of fun about this place, I think right now, is that the place is under construction, our worship is under construction, our community’s under construction and as Christians, that’s the way we all come ” we all come in faith but we’re never fully complete.”
Davis said Kairos is scheduled to open as a full-service coffee shop by the end of February. But the volunteer work will not stop then.
While the church has enough money budgeted to pay a full staff ” most of whom will be students from Lutheran Campus Ministries at the University of Northern Colorado ” members of the congregation have volunteered to help run the store.
Ultimately, Davis said, the coffee shop and church services are designed to bring people closer to Christ and to each other.
Church member Ray Sorensen says the concept of coming together under a less formal service is nothing new.
“Church has not always been the traditional church,” Sorensen said. “It started off as small groups like this and so it’s kind of in a way getting back to those roots.”
Roots that remain a powerful influence ” even if they now sprout from a coffee bean.
“That’s what church is for,” visitor Lori Gale said with a laugh. “You come to church and there’s always food.”
On the Net:
Our Savior’s Lutheran Church: http://www.greeleylutheran.org