What Refreshments (If Any) Does Your Church Offer Before or After Worship?

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I've been thinking about food and hospitality lately (maybe the Super Bowl is to blame) and was wondering what churches are doing lately when it comes to refreshments.

Does your church serve coffee or juice after church? What about cookies or other treats? I know of a few churches that serve bagels and muffins before the service, meeting a need for those who didn't eat before church. 

No matter what your church does, choosing to show hospitality in this way takes effort. Someone has to pour the coffee. Others have to bake or bring food. For this reason, it's important identify the reasons for serving refreshments (i.e. to encourage people to stay and build relationships, to meet a need, etc.). 

I'd love to know, what refreshments (if any) does your church serve? Is this a purposeful decision? 

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Community Builder

 Our church serves both coffee and juice AFTER the service.  I never get there early enough to see if there is anything BEFORE the service.  Nobody pours the coffee.  Somebody prepares a percolator ahead of time so it will be ready after the service, and it's put on a table in the Fellowship hall and people help themselves to that and cream or milk and cookies, although adults probably pour juice for the little kids.  Sometimes, there will be tomato pizza, or even samoosas for special occasions,  or cake when there is a birthday .  But usually that's after the service.

Admin

Thanks for sharing Michele! The prep is helpful. Also, the birthday treats sound delicious :) 

We serve coffee before church and allow it in our worship area.  Both regular and decaf are available. It is served in our cafe in the lobby area.  It is also available afterword along with juice and cookies.  We have a team of two people who set it up and take down each Sunday.  It serves a couple of functions.  First, obviously, coffee for those  who would like a cup., especially staff, praise team, tech team and others that come early. Secondly it allows the servers to connect with our guests who may be visiting for the first time.  Thirdly, it allows us to provide a regular attender an opportunity to serve, get to know others, and take some ownership.  This is one of the greatest blessings.

Admin

Thanks for unpacking the reasons your church does what it does, Gary. I love that you have coffee before church to welcome new faces and also serve those who come to church early (staff, praise teams, etc.). Also appreciate how you mentioned the blessing that the servers receive in serving and getting to know others. Seeing this role as a privilege changes the whole outlook! 

In our part of the world the coffee after Church has killed off the habit of taking someone (or an entire family) home for coffee, lunch and an enjoyable afternoon of friendship. We sometimes swapped kids, so that our children had a friend over for the day. It wasn’t unusual to be invited somewhere and bring the extra child along. 

Much as I like the Church coffee time, I mourn the loss of the days with friends that we had in the past.

Admin

Interesting observation, Hetty, and a good conversation to start I think. I hope that people still do invite others into their homes on a regular basis and this is a huge opportunity to build deeper relationships (great idea on children having friends over). 

 

Sorry for your loss. I'm sure that was very meaningful. In our world many of our members and guests are not familiar with this tradition. Having coffee afterward allows us to connect with them. One member actually shared she found herself alone in the parking lot after service, when she first visited because most were still inside visiting. This was not her tradition. 

Community Builder

 Yeah, I also miss going to someone else's house for coffee, but since I have to rely on public transit or a ride to get around, I find it nice to have access to most members of the congregation in the same building right after church.  The only drawback is the noise in the Fellowship Hall.  With kids screaming and running around and adults chatting, with my hearing loss I often have a hard time following conversations.

Coffee is available before the service in our narthex area, which is nice for people who are at church early, like Gary mentioned. We also have coffee and lemonade available after the service. We also provide goodies, such as bagels on the first Sunday of the month, donut holes on the third Sunday of the month, and cookies on all other Sundays. Cake is provided when celebrating a special occasion. We do love our food!

Admin

I'm a big fan of churches serving coffee before church (for the reason you mentioned and for visitors). I think it can be a warm welcome. Also, how cool that your church offers a variety of food! Yum. 

Our church has refreshments after the morning service. Generally it's coffee, tea, juice or iced tea, and doughnuts or baked goods (we're fortunate to have two bakery-owning families within the congregation). We've also made the first Sunday of every month Birthday Sunday, where we have a list of everyone's birthdays that month and offer cake as well as everything else. 

Once in a while, a family will do refreshments in honor of a milestone birthday or anniversary.

Admin

Thanks for sharing Rachael! How great to have two families that own bakeries in your congregation who are willing to bless others in this way.

We have coffee, juice and cookies after worship. We have a team (usually a couple) that changes each month that sets everything up prior to worship and then every week different people (6) are assigned by the office to serve and clean up. We do not use paper except for napkins. We do use paper plates though when we have a special event like a cake for someone who is 80 or over or some other special celebration on that Sunday. We have an industrial dishwasher which helps with clean up with all the non-paper items.

Admin

Thanks for sharing Mary Ann! Sounds like you have a great system and I absolutely love that you don't use much paper! 

We currently serve coffee, apple juice and cookies/other treats after worship.  Recently, a member asked why we don't offer healthier options like juice, cheese/crackers or granola bars.  Does anyone offer a "healthy" option either before or after church?

Admin

Great question. Almost could be a whole new discussion topic. I'd be curious. I know healthy snacks can be more expensive and take more planning but it would be pretty neat. 

We believe very strongly that we should encourage people to choose healthy, nutritional options as often as possible.  Therefore, we cut up fruit every Sunday to serve after the worship gathering - watermelon, cantaloupe, pineapple, grapes, etc. - and serve it up in five ounce cups with a toothpick.  This has worked very well for both the adults and the kids.  We also serve coffee.

I I like that suggestion. I really would like to have healthier options as well.

Admin

Any ideas on what kinds of healthier options might work well for churches? I'm thinking fruit but wonder if there are other options. 

Our church does what I read a lot of you other groups are doing.  Coffee is on early for our worship teams etc (they put it on themselves) and we have a scheduled group of people set up coffee for after the service.  In warm weather, we had our fellowship time under a big tree on our lot, but in cold weather, we stay indoors.  We serve coffee, tea, and juice with a few trays of cookies.  

One thing our church has done with 'intent' was to purchase fair-trade coffee.  

Admin

Andrea, thank you so much for sharing. Love that you get outdoors and also love that you purchase fair-trade coffee. Thoughtful buying choice! 

Participant

The Village Church meets on Sunday evenings at 5:00 and we serve a complete buffet dinner immediately after the worship time. People sign up to cook and are given a budget and our expectations regarding providing vegetarian, gluten free, dairy free, and other options. First time cooks consult with people who have done it many times, since most folks don’t have a lot of experience cooking for 130-150 people. We designed our kitchen around a long serving bar that allows us to quickly feed a lot of people. We have indoor and outdoor eating areas and we also encourage people to move couches and chairs around and eat in our sanctuary. We have coffee and tea available as well as a refrigerator full of sodas and water that we encourage folks to take advantage of before and after the service. Eating together each week has been a powerful community building time and a great way to get to know guests. It’s also fun to see the amazing kinds of delicious meals people can prepare on a budget of $1.75 a person. 

I believe what refreshments other serve should not matter. One should always give by heart. Be it just a coffee and cookie, or some extra like sandwiches and juices. It would be great if you will bring some innovation in your offerings and make a unique experience for your worshippers.