Coffee Time: Keep or Toss? 3 Ways to Form Faith During Coffee Hour
June 29, 2016
Updated May 8, 2019
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For most churches, the thought of not having a gathering time after worship would be unthinkable. Just a few reasons include:
I wonder, however, how many of us have taken to time to assess whether any one of these goals—connection, engagement, or equipping—are actually being met with success? Another question might be: Is this fellowship time supporting the faith formation needs of all who attend it?
I used italics on purpose because I have heard from a variety of churches that the coffee fellowship time in their context has become a neutral time at best. A few examples include:
I would say that the people in each of these scenarios are not finding this gathering time as a faith formative part of their Sunday experience (let alone their overall experience of being valued members of their faith communities). I would like to suggest that the Building Blocks Toolkit might be one resource to help each of these congregations assess their situations and begin looking at ways to strengthen the faith formative potential of post-worship coffee fellowship.
The Building Blocks are based on four themes of faith development for all ages:
I think that each one of these Building Block themes could be leveraged during this gathering time, but for today, let’s focus on a few ways to lean into the "I Belong" theme.
A. Make a chart (email me if you want an example) where one axis lists the variety of people groupings that are present during your Coffee Fellowship time: children, tweens, teens, guests, parents, seniors, singles, couples, etc. On the other axis, ask these basic questions:
If we follow the elementary students in the unsupervised nursery scenario, these children already had a snack in Sunday School and weren’t interested in the juice provided by the adults during Fellowship Hour. They had been sitting for 45 minutes and needed to run. They did not perceive that they belonged in coffee fellowship and often resented the fact that their parents stayed so long. These facts had gone unnoticed until there was a focused assessment similar to the chart above.
B. Use the same chart to dream about how to take intentional steps to address any gaps.
Recently some Toronto teens with a very small youth group presence in their congregation decided that they would use the coffee time to start creating a yearning for strong youth programming in the students and families of the tweens coming up behind them in the ranks. They took leadership of this time by creating group activities for the children while parents had their coffee. Teens, tweens and families got the message that they belonged here because there are intentional points of engagement. All of these groups stayed longer and plugged into the community in a deeper way than they had previously.
C. Use this gathering time to allow people to share something of who they are—such as a talent or a hobby that might not find a ready venue in other parts of church life.
One church holds an annual art show during the coffee hour where folks of all ages can share their creations. This church will often give a theme and might limit the medium from year to year, but the show allows conversation and sharing that the regular coffee hour might not always allow for. This is a great venue for different people to belong through their ability to contribute in a meaningful way. Take it a step further and ask artists to visually depict what it means to them to belong to Jesus and/or his church.
These are 3 small steps to communicating belonging 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, Building Blocks Champion, at [email protected], or me, [email protected], for more information.
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