Going out for a cup of coffee is also an acceptable social activity and vice for the modern, urban Christian. A coffee shop is not a bar. It's not a party. And if you go to the same shop day-after-day, it's likely you'll start making friends with the barista or other regulars.
It's these reasons that Youth With A Mission Brisbane is launching a cafÃ© ministry to reach out to our neighbourhood. I've been serving at this international, missions organisation for nearly three years, and I remember the idea of this cafÃ© already brewing when I first arrived.
The Meeting Place CafÃ© became a reality the first weekend of September. We opened its doors for the first time with live music, freshly made barista coffees, chai tea, thick shakes and amazing home baking. The way to a man's heart may be through his stomach, but feeding people good food is not the main goal here.
Youth With A Mission – known as YWAM (Y-Wham) – is all about getting to know God and then sharing Him with others. That's what we hope The Meeting Place CafÃ© will help us do in our neighbourhood.
Kalli Hendrickson, who's been helping set up the cafÃ©, says providing a safe and friendly place for young people, families and others in the neighbourhood is one of the top priorities of The Meeting Place. She's originally from the United States, and is heavily involved in developing some of our outreach ministries.
The Meeting Place CafÃ©
"We want The Meeting Place to be a hub that represents what YWAM is about; we are young people that travel the world, who want the share God's love with others and find creative ways to share healthy friendships," says Hendrickson.
YWAMmers (as we're dubbed) already go regularly to the neighbourhood high school and are connected with programs the chaplain runs there. We also hold weekly sport-in-the-park afternoons to provide a fun, and friendly way for the neighbourhood to stay active.
The after-school crowd can hang out at The Meeting Place from 3-5pm during weekdays. Then Friday through Sunday night, the cafÃ© will operate from 7-11pm as a venue for live music, art performances and galleries of art or photography. The art work will mostly feature pieces from international students who come train at YWAM Brisbane. We have one six month training course that is geared towards artists and musicians who are eager to use their talents to express God's heart for the lost.
Hendrickson, who worked at a coffee shop in her hometown in America, has sourced unique pieces of furniture for the space. "My favorite part of the coffee shop is the tie between shabby-chic furniture and the artwork we have up on the walls. It's creative and yet homey," she explains.
At any given time we might have a dozen or so nations represented at our centre in the north west of Brisbane. The young people who come to study or serve here are full of energy and a passion to share God's love with others.
Sometimes all someone needs is a listening ear or an honest conversation. So, with coffees in hand we're ready to love our neighbourhood the way Jesus might. As Hendrickson puts it, "We want to open the doors of our home for people to come to meet with us."
Lisa Goetze is a self-confessed coffee addict, and loves to talk for hours and hear people's stories over a good cuppa. She serves full-time at Youth With A Mission in Brisbane.
Lisa Goetze's previous articles may be viewed at www.pressserviceinternational.org/lisa-goetze.html