Coffee, A Pride-Busting Blend


The church I pastor was a church that served bad coffee.  Coffee worse than gas station coffee.  Not only were we a church that served bad coffee, but we also didn't provide liquid creamer.  Bad coffee, somehow, had become a mark of my pride.  So God used a coffee grinder to grind down my arrogance. 

Kids love fruit snacks and fish crackers and Jesus Storybook Bibles and coloring sheets and play time.  They love silly sermons and a fun student pastor.  These simple things contribute to their worship experience and make them want to come back.  I think it might be these things that cause my kids to invite the neighbor kids.  They love our children's ministry not only because they get to learn about Jesus, but because those other things that contribute to their worship too. 

Adults are like kids.  Metal folding chairs are not fantastic; padded seats are much better.  We like air conditioning.  Beautiful worship slides enhance the worship service.  We have professionally printed connection cards and good graphics.  We give away door hangers and tracts.  Most of the time we vacuum and clean the windows.  Lighting and sound quality improve our worship service.  I hope and pray that the adults of Redeeming Life Church love learning about Jesus on Sunday mornings and want to invite their friends too.

But the coffee at our church was so bad.  We'd make it, nobody drank it, and we'd toss it.  

I was too cheap to buy better tasting coffee on our church budget.  It just sounded so consumeristic to me.  "If people are only coming for the coffee, what's the point?" I asked to myself.  But if people want to come worship, pray, hear a sermon, connect, and invite their friends because we have slightly better coffee, we ought to think about having amazing coffee.  I mean, it's not like people were asking us to build a coffee bar and make custom espresso drinks.  But based on my response to requests for better tasting coffee and liquid creamer, you'd think they were asking me to convert our church building into a Starbucks. 

Then I pulled a bottle of water from the refrigerator before a staff meeting.  Wait.  I use our church budget to buy coffee at in the community during meetings, and sometimes I buy it for others (when they don't buy it for me.)  I don't carry around a can of Nescafe to make instant coffee during the week.  I want to be a hospitable church, and I like good coffee during the week. Some how, Sunday became an exception to drinkable coffee.  Why?  My pride I guess.  

Then I read something about how most people attend church because someone invited them.  I thought about the coffee.  Later, I went to buy a cup of coffee so I could grab a couple of creamers for my wife to use at church (I don't tend to use creamer, but she does.)  Was I stealing creamer from a hospitable gas station because our church didn't provide creamer?  It would seem so.  What was the matter with me!

So I gave in and went to purchase some better coffee. 

God really started speaking when I came to the coffee grinder.  Standing at Trader Joe's red grinder, I was agitated that I had to spend 20-minutes of my day grinding coffee instead of doing something evangelistic or super spiritual or something.  My son, on the other hand, was having the time of his life helping me.  "The people are going to love this!" he exclaimed with joy.  He was smiling, making a laughter-filled game out of the process, and offered to wait there to grind other people's coffee so we could tell them that Jesus loves them.  

I had been working on a sermon on the spiritual discipline, "service," from Psalm 101:2.  Part of this sermon would look at Jesus' foot-washing experience in John 13:1-21.  How evangelistic was that act?  It wasn't.  How humbling was that act?  Humbling!  Jesus didn't say, "You can wash your own feet because we're here for the Lord's Supper, an impressive multi-chapter sermon on abiding in me, and a killer prayer people will be talking about for thousands of years!"  Nope.  Instead, Jesus looked around, saw that the disciples could use a foot washing, and served them.  I don't want to wash feet, but I can figure out how to get drinkable coffee.  Coffee might be one of the highest indicators of hospitality in our culture, and I was proud to serve undrinkable motor-oil?  

God used the coffee grinder to set an appointment to speak to me.  

I'm glad.  My pride needed ground down.  And hey, maybe standing around drinking coffee will help our church connect better as a church.  Maybe it is one less thing to hinder our church from inviting others to hang out with God's family?  Or maybe the coffee at church is just one more way God is sanctifying me.