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Cafe church

Mark from Germany asks about running a cafe church (coffee shop church for Americans).

Hi Mark.
Yes, I know lots of café churches and have even been involved in starting them, or pastoring them. My first one was in 1989, in Portland Oregon.

I usually recommend that people find a café that is appropriate and ask permission from the owner to start a regular event/conversation/spoken word/whatever you decide to call it. This solves most of the logistics - rent, who makes the coffee, coolness factor, etc and also it lets you start up immediately.
The only drawback is privacy, and I remember once we got too big and wanted more privacy to pray over people, and we had to move the group into a house.
But you have gone the other way, in creating your own café scene. Churches that do this often get stuck in a basement of a church building because they cant afford anything else.
But they can work.
I offer the following suggestions for your cafe church.

1. Go WiFi. Give people the option of surfing the net wirelessly during the event. You might want to think about what you want them to look at or track online that will enhance the theme.
2. Preaching is awkward. Open mike is better. Have lots of people give short stories, poems, readings, whatever. 5 minute limit.
3. Coffee shop dynamics and aesthetics mean that people can look if they want but they don’t have to. You have to win their attention. Don’t force everyone to give attention.
4. Obviously people will be getting their coffee and tea during the event. Make it easy for them to get it anytime without interrupting anything.
5. If you use an open mike, anyone is allowed to share. You will have non-Christians get up and read their poetry or thoughts as well, so be prepared for that. It sometimes helps to have a host who can guide the event and then have the final word.
6. Music. I would go for either a DJ who can create a relaxing background soundscape, or I would go for a guitarist who may lead some accoustic songs from a stool. No more than 2 or 3 musicians. Less is more. Don’t put a band up there - overkill!!!!
7. If people are sitting around at tables, which I assume they are, you can create some exercises or table-based discussions that get them interacting and contributing.

If anyone else has suggestions for Mark and his café church in Germany, leave them below in the comments section.

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