Sunday, November 16, 2008

Cafe Church

It's not like we have a Starbuck's franchise or anything, like David Parker's Desert Vineyard Church...

But after chatting to a colleague earlier in the term I felt that one thing we could try to freshen up our evening service was Cafe Church. Now, I've never been to anywhere that does this (problem number one), and (problem number two) I have a bit of a natural antipathy to the whole "fresh expressions" stuff which fosters the cafe church scenario, cos those F.E. guys sometimes comes across (and fight me on this if you like) as being church by and for people who don't like church - I mean, they don't like the pastor, they don't like the worship, they don't like each other...

(Not that I'm trying to be contentious or anything.)

Anyway. Our evening service needs a bit of direction. I mean - it's lovely, but it needs a bit of direction. A bit of new purpose and life. And chatting to Helen Rees at the Glamorgan University Chaplaincy right at the start of October it struck me that Cafe Church was something we should do.

So I got the Tuesday homegroup on board to help out organise things (there's a lot of set up to get the atmosphere right - tables, table cloths, candles, cakes, drinks, clean up afterwards, music, etc etc) and tonight was the first attempt.

It was brilliant.

Everyone loved it. The ambience. The setting. The use of video and screen (pretty limited, but effective), the relaxed worship, the use of conversation around the tables within the teaching, the quality of cakes and drinks - and the spiritual punch of the whole thing as we felt Jesus in the midst.

There's lots to learn; stuff to improve on. We have the space, the facilities, the manpower. It takes a bit of imagination. And then determination.

And the pay off - personally for me, I felt the freest in worship I have felt for a while in an evening service; everything worked. And given that right now I am tired and not on top form that is saying something. And that sense of the presence of Jesus in the midst was gentle but palpable. And a very welcoming place for a couple of new people who were with us tonight, who both seemed really keen to be with us.

So. This old dog is still trying to learn new tricks - even if lots of you have been doing this for ages. New to us. And being blessed in the process. A great day, and that's not mentioning the wonderful visit from Andy and Jane Mayo and Andy's fantastic contribution to a great morning here and our church's support of Hoveraid...


Anonymous said...

...And I missed it!?

I spoke with Helen Rees back in October too; in fact she is a "facebook friend" of mine.

I was invited to the Cafe Church that the Chaplaincy had a hand in, but the date was that of your Jazz evening... no contest...

I'm growing increasingly dubious of all FE church scenarios.

Personally I feel one of the problems with the modern church is that there is too much room for fresh expression, which almost always leads to emotionalism and self absorption.

OK OK I am over stating my point a tad –I do like a lot of modern worship, and non-liturgical services- but with the current saturation of the FE market, perhaps a little bit of evensong would be quite refreshing?

I look forward to making it along to the next –I assume you are planning a second- Cafe Church, but don’t be surprised if you see me popping up on Wednesday mornings for a nice bit of spoken liturgy as well.

the_exile said...

"they don't like each other..."

Of course - that's why they just want to hang out and drink coffee and talk to each other rather than having a proper service :-)

(you wanted someone to bite I assume?)

Marcus G said...

Markio - here's the funny thing: the Jazz Evening was a worship event that was so far away from an ordinary service it was untrue... yet because we were in the pews and facing forwards it felt like church. Last night we were sat around in a cafe, but the format of the service was really our usual evening service refreshed a bit, with cakes and drinks & a different ambience (afetr all we often split into groups to pray and talk).

Which is the FE?

Don't get hung up on that title. If I can get past it...

Exile - you hit the nail on the head. I'm agreeing with you entirely. But to put my cynicism away (always the best thing to do with it) the format isn't ruled by the imagined shortcomings of some of the original perpetrators of the idea. (Though actually, I came across this from the Vineyard in the 90s, and as far as I recall the Vineyard normally want to worship? I guess they too might have their rebels... but I seem to recall at least one of their Vineyard Cafe CDs as being really nice - the one with Great is Thy Faithfulness & Blessed Assurance; admittedly you do have to get past the awful first track...)

So for those who want to worship but in a diferent context, this is a great context.

And, of course, it becomes part of the mix. We are good post-modernists. We do all sorts of things here. Traditional spoken liturgy. Family communion. Relaxed informal worship. Big Band Praise. Cafe Church.

Anonymous said...

The thing is, you're are probably right. I think I have fallen into the trap of context over content, that is to say: it doesn't matter what we do, so long as it looks like church.

But I think the reason I am like this, is that its a knee-jerk reaction against the type of church I found my faith in, where all they wanted to do was worship, but all they wanted to do was do it in way that didn't seem like church.

I like the idea of church, thats probably why I'm an Anglican.

I do think there is a huge scope for non-churchy context worship. But do I think those services should be elevated to the level of importance as traditional context ones? Should they replace them -as it did on sunday- I am less sure.

Here's an idea, non-church worship not in church. Throughout the week Christians meeting together in their homes, in coffee shops, in supermarkets, at the beach, reminding each other of the gospel and worshiping God through song, prayer and deed.

Marcus G said...

Good idea.

Here's another - make sure you come next time. We missed you yesterday.