Coffee Time: Can We Intentionally Form Faith While Drinking Coffee?

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My congregation loves the coffee time after church on Sunday mornings, even though the coffee isn’t very good. Perhaps it is because I’m on staff and perhaps it is because my husband and I like to talk with people but last Sunday, for example, we were at church for an hour after the worship service. We were actually the last ones out of the church building. It was worth it. Ali, a kindergartner, asked me to sign her school year book. Mary and I talked about a book the pastor mentioned in his sermon. Scott and Sue talked about their trip to New York City. It was a smorgasbord of community. Coffee time connects us in a very real way to our brothers and sisters in Christ who worship with us each week.  

Last week Lesli VanMilligan suggested that coffee time could be more than just coffee and fellowship, although those are important. She asked if this time could also support the faith formation needs of those who attend? Using the Building Blocks Model as a framework to assess post–worship coffee time, she focused on belonging.

The Building Blocks are based on four themes of faith development for all ages:

  • I belong to Jesus, and thus to his body, the church.
  • I know/understand. Because I belong, I know the story of God’s faithfulness, of which I am a part.
  • That story has a climactic conclusion! Therefore, I have hope.
  • Inside that story, I am called to work in the kingdom and equipped to do that work.

Today, let’s focus on the "I know" theme. We need to know God’s story written in the Bible but also we need to know how God is working in our lives today. We all have a story to tell, a story of God’s faithfulness. Here are three ideas: 

  1. Remind people to talk about their story by placing a white board at the entrance to the fellowship area or by the coffee table with a question for conversations. The board can have ideas like: Where did you see God this week? This month? What part(s) of the Bible are you reading this week? Was there a Bible passage or story that meant a lot to you this week?What part of worship today had meaning for you? Why?
  2. A church in Florida found that having the congregation read the same book during the summer encouraged discussions about faith. Read more here
  3. At New Hope CRC, a recent Trinity College graduate Emily Dykstra facilitated the congregation putting art on the walls of their building that tells the story of Bible. The halls were also used to tell the story of God’s promise and redemption.   

These are only small steps to talking about knowing God and strengthening the faith formational potential of an important part of the Sunday morning experience. 

What are some ways your community uses their Coffee Fellowship to be intentionally inclusive and faith formational?

For more information on the Building Blocks of Faith, look for the Toolkit (coming soon!). Or, you can contact Laura Keeley, at laurakeeley@crcna.org, or Lesli VanMiligen, lvanmilligen@crcna.org, for more information.

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Thanks Laura, for an interesting concept: a more focused conversation time after the worship service while having coffee.  I remember, years ago (probably 40 or so) the ministers (two of them) who carried considerable authority in the church, strongly suggested that the members forgo the frivolous conversations he and his fellow minister were hearing during coffee time after church. Instead the members should focus their conversations on more spiritual and uplifting matters, maybe even including reflections of the sermon.  Out, were the conversations about the movie we saw the previous week, the vacation that friends had taken, the new car we were looking to buy, etc. etc.  We were new at this church and still considering whether we wanted to join.  After a few weeks of focused conversation and feeling uncomfortable with it, we stopped attending that particular church.  Such focused conversation may be good for some, but definitely not all.

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Thanks Roger for this helpful comment.  Placing things that encourage faith based conversation is more what I had in mind.  Inspire, not require.  

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