I went to London today for a training session for CafeChurch. It turned out to be an extremely interesting day and it will be good to follow it up.
I went with Mike Baldwin who is one of the team who have organised Music and Message. We've been speaking to a number of people in MK about the possibility of doing CafeChurch here.
The CafeChurch Network was created by a baptist minister called Cid Latty. It started with his church in Welwyn Garden City when they approached their local Costa Coffee about running cafe style worship in their branch. This went so well, and impressed the regional manager so much, that they then negotiated a deal that would enable and encourage all branches of Costa Coffee (and laterly Gloria Jeans) to allow local churches to run CafeChurch.
Cid started the day by talking about theology, encouraging us to base our ecclesiology on our christology. In other words to think about how we build church on the basis of our understanding of Christ.
This ethos that he would encourage is:
Welcome: "Everyone is welcome!" There's no hidden agenda and real life is acknowledged.
Warmth: "Friendship is better than image." Be relaxed and informal - be real.
Words: "Jesus had good words to say about how to live." - address real issues.
He also spoke about values and the importance of discipleship as an ongoing relational process.
In the second session another speaker addressed the issue of making connections. She pointed out that we no longer live in an agricultural society in which everyone knows what everyone is doing. In our disconected society there is an increasing blurring between sacred and secular. There are also fewer "third spaces" - neither work nor home - where we can just "be". She challenged us to think about how we release church members to spend time in third spaces - mentioning an experience she had with a group of inline scaters on a Sunday morning who were haveing too much fun to consider church...
In the third session Cid spoke again about "authenticity" challenging us to be real, positive, practical and spiritual as we think about how we relate with the people in our area.
Moving forward from the day, we were given a brief taster of the kind of session they recomend - after three years of experience. Each session should have a light and relatively uncomplicated "menu". In fact, they use the same printed menu for each session:
Introduction: hello - and what's the theme?
Quiz: copies on the table as people arrive with relavant material and press cuttings... there should be a prize!
Expert witness: Bring on someone who knows something about the subject to start the discussiuon off.
Real life story: Interview an ordinary person and ask them to share their experience.
Table time: A few questions for people to discuss around their tables.
It's a wrap: Close with a few thoughts and thank yous.
In order to make this work in MK we would need a small team to manage the events/publicity and a number of people who could welcome, chat and help serve the coffee. It's all quite do-able.
On the way back, Mike and I wondered if we could work with a number of local churches to launch more than one CafeChurch in MK... starting in the centre and moving outwards... it's got potential...