The Coffee Shop is Not the Point

Jlodge Folks

We just finished a record-breaking week at Jlodge!! All week we thought it would be slow and day after day we were proved wrong. New students, others who have not been in for a while and even professors and members from the surrounding community came in to relax in our little oasis. It would be easy to think that the ministry, the best parts of Jlodge are all about Jlodge. But, in fact, Jlodge represents a concept of ministry

The concept of ministry represented by Jlodge can be replicated in many ways to suit many settings. The concept is to provide a natural point of contact for building bridges of relationships through which we can share the Gospel in non-threatening, culturally sensitive ways. In this case, Jlodge is primarily used to connect with university students. Therefore it is located where students normally pass by. Jlodge is situated to be a part of the students normal pattern of life. This is also why, at least for the time being, Church members meet within the coffee shop. 

An all-too-familiar pattern is to take people outside of their normal sphere of life so they can "go to church". Even in cases where the church building is near someone's home, it is a place they usually do not go for anything more than this "other kind of Christian activity". They then leave the church building to resume their "normal" life throughout the week. Church becomes a kind of "add-on" rather than a core part of their routine.

 A core element of the ministry taking place at Jlodge is to locate the ministry where the people are; and that we gather together for fellowship in a place where the people are accustomed to gathering. It is situated within their normal sphere of activity. We want them to learn by this that "church" is something we are more than someplace we go. A coffee shop is a good model for this kind of evangelism. But it doesn't have to be a coffee shop. It could be a meeting at an Izakaya or in a Karaoke place. The point is to go where people are and to not only do outreach there but to continue the discipling process right there where they normally hang out. As one or two come to faith a new gathering of the body is born . . . right there where the people we want to reach are normally going!

What would happen if Jlodge closed. What would we do if we were no longer invited by the church to work there? We would take that same concept and go wherever God leads us to go! My great grandfather was a pastor in a church building very much like the one pictured here. It was (still is) a dedicated building that no one uses unless they are "doing Church stuff." A coffee shop, lacks the mystical sense of God's presence. However, I know from experience that the mystical sense of His presence comes from a growing faith, trusting and loving prayer or lingering in the Word over a passage He has let you to. Let the grand mystery of God be found in the ordinary places of life.

Jlodge does not flourish as a ministry because it is Jlodge. It flourishes as a ministry because the concept is sound . . . natural bridges of friendship occur in the normal sphere of student's lives. It is biblical because we follow Jesus' command to "Go and make disciples . . . teaching them all that I have commanded you." We do this by going to where the students are rather than attempting to draw them away, into a church or other place that is outside of their normal sphere of life.

A good friend of mine does this same thing by making time to hang out at a local coffee shop and intentionally engaging others who frequent there. The fact is, you don't have to own the coffee shop in order to use this same concept of reaching out to people where they are