“Guac was unlike anyone else. He’s funny. Probably one of the most free-spirited people I know. He’s just absolutely beautiful, like a beautiful face, like an angel.” Sam Zeif about his friend Joaquin Oliver — called “Guac” – who died 2-14-18 at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, Parkland FL
As we discern new ways to be the Church, I’m increasingly interested in the Cafe Plan. (Note: This is not the same as a Cafeteria Plan of pick and choose your own theology.) Coffee Shop Church is not a new thing, but Death Cafe is new to me. Some Death Cafes meet in church buildings. Others meet in homes and public libraries.
I have also heard of congregations/church coffee shops offering:
- Peace Cafes – interfaith gatherings to talk about important topics
- Bible Cafes – Bible study gatherings for the curious
- Food Cafes – tasty low cost lunches for the community
These cafe offerings would be most effective in locations that look more like a coffee shop than a church building. Most Millennials and younger don’t do church buildings.
Imagine new congregations which serve their communities by feeding them food and scripture, offering opportunities to talk with people of other faiths or no faith, and offering opportunities to talk about an issue that every human will eventually face: death. This would be a great model for church – but that’s a topic for another post.
This post is about death – a topic we deny and find uncomfortable until it hits us up close and personal. This story on All Thing’s Considered yesterday touched my heart. How many of us simply need to talk about death, to share our death stories, to cry – perhaps years after our losses – with people who won’t tell us to get over it?
High School Senior Sam Zeif: “Yeah, we finally did the march, and that’s something we’ve all been anticipating for a month now. I don’t know when or if or how I’ll ever get over this, I don’t want to get over it because I feel like getting over it is sort of forgetting.”
Yes, we also need grief counselors and therapists and chaplains. But sometimes we simply need to talk over coffee with people who get it, who don’t try to fix us. The church could offer opportunities for this – but, for the love of Jesus, please don’t read this blog and think to yourself, “This could be a new way to get members!” No, that’s not it. It’s never about that.
It’s about being God’s people out in the world where people are hungry for food, eternal meaning, relationships, and deep peace. And maybe coffee.