Barb's Space

Observations about life, family, church...anything else that is on my mind from the perspective that God rules, no matter what

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Location: Indianapolis, IN, United States

I am a 66 year young woman who has changed much in the last few years. I'm single again. I changed jobs twice (learned new skills), had a serious stroke in 2008, "retired" and after getting better started taking up new interests, and am continuing to get more fit. Some things have matured. I've enjoyed watching my three guys grow into men I respect and am proud of. One waited 11 years to have his first birth child. Today I'm a grandma of six (four boys and 2 girls between two families) with a third girl on the way. I have learned to love Jesus even more, and I have regained my sense of adventure. Someone said, "The best is yet to be."--I believe it, if I keep an open mind and heart and keep growing and walking with God.

Monday, January 04, 2010

Starbucks, Panera and Church

I have been thinking about this subject for a long least four years. It all started with Graham Cooke, who is a minister (not one in the usual mold) from England. He has been used to shatter more of my "religiosity." He referred to Starbucks as "St. Arbucks," and said it was a very good place to meet with the Lord. ...I began to meditate on that during my many jaunts there.

For quite some time, I've liked taking books to Starbucks and sitting there for a few hours in the morning (starting 6 or 7am). I'm ready to leave by 11 or so, though, because it is so noisy. Then this winter (a couple years ago before the stroke), my son Micah and I went to a cozy all-night one to wait for a winter storm that never really panned out. Since neither of us had to get up early the next morning, we got there at 9pm and stayed till 1am, while playing some card games (Speed and another one). It was fun, and in between rounds we could talk and I could observe. The Thursday before, after a women's gathering I met Micah at the same one, that time for a 10pm-midnight stint, and the same things happened.

Also I expanded my "research" that winter to Panera, taking in my computer (thanks to the free wi-fi) and arranging counseling appointments there. I finally decided to "take the plunge" that January and stay all day, from about 6am till 8pm. No, they didn't throw me out--either time. I could sit on the side at a table for two near a wall plug and "compute" or observe or read or meet with people to my heart's content. I bought one small coffee and a bagel for under $3, and then a half sandwich (or other things) for under $3 and that would do me (since I could get coffee refills). I was set up for the day.

Why do people like such places so much? There is no agenda. You can go and be yourself without putting on an act. You can enjoy being alone or with others and it's informal. You can talk or not talk, meet friends, play games, work on computer, read the paper or a book, watch people, write.... It is what every church should be like. In fact, a lot of times I feel Panera and Starbucks are more the church than the church is.

...Now I am writing from today's perspective. I go to Starbucks or Panera to read at times (may start going back to write again) but I don't need it as much. Why? Because the Vineyard church I am in is working on becoming that kind of culture where we can just meet as people before God, without our masks. This is what will cause us to walk in more of God's grace, and to share more of His grace.

Do you want to live in a culture that is hospitable to the Kingdom of God? Find a church where the leadership nurtures that kind of thinking on an everyday basis, come to ours, or go to hang out regularly at Starbucks or Panera and see what happens when you purpose to live without a mask before God and people and invite and receive others who do so.

4 Great Ideas:

Blogger Ella Jo said...

I'm proud of you for changing things up. I like that you've posted on this topic. My church's office isn't open on Mondays, to give the pastors a day off. And you'll never find them in the office on a Tuesday, unless you make an appointment, because they are over at The Mill, a coffee/bread shop across from our church building, and they spend almost all day in there doing their study and worship and meeting with the people that walk in. :D

January 05, 2010 1:49 PM
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sounds like your pastors are onto something--what about the congregation?

January 05, 2010 3:14 PM
Blogger Ella Jo said...

I'm not sure about the congregation as a whole. I know this is something that my friends and I have worked on in our lives: making ourselves more accessible to the community around us.

Something I'm actually working on personally is being more involved in the congregation as a whole. I've spent a lot of time in the nurseries (sometimes all four Sundays in a month!), and I'm missing out on the bigger picture at our church.

January 11, 2010 2:10 PM
Blogger Jane said...

Great post Barb!

January 22, 2010 10:54 AM

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