Once a week I set up my office in one of our local coffee shops. I’m not a huge coffee
drinker, but occasionally I’ll have a coffee drink of some sort. Some days, like today, I just get some lemonade or water. I rarely make it through my visit without a cookie or something from the pastry counter. But that’s all beside the point.
Once a week I set up my office in one of our local coffee shops and just wait to see what happens. I bring a book or two and my laptop. I have my cell phone with me so I can be found if I am needed somewhere else. I announce where I’ll be in the worship bulletin or weekly email. I invite people from the church and community to drop in a chat. Then I just show up and see what unfolds. Sometimes it’s a quiet morning or afternoon at the coffee shop. On those days I tend to get a lot of reading or worship planning done. Other times, more often then not anymore, people stop in to join me. Those are my favorite days of all.
I’ve found that my office isn’t a great place to actually do ministry – the people part of ministry anyway. And the people part is the big part of ministry. When I’m in my office people will sometimes stop in to say hello when they have other reasons to come by the church. That’s great, and I’ve said for a long time that ministry happens in the interruptions. Yet most people don’t really like to feel like an interruption and that’s hard to avoid when I’m sitting at my desk or talking to colleagues or answering phone calls. Sometimes people will make an appointment to meet with me which ensures they have my undivided attention, but I think that feels too formal for some. “Making an appointment” sounds quite serious, and a lot of people don’t think the thing they are stopping by for is all that serious.
The coffee shop neutralizes all of these things. I may have a book in front of me when someone shows up, but I’m not studying. A computer may be open but it can be closed. The time is set aside for nothing else. The seats are available; we’ve even been known to pull a few tables together when the group gets bigger than anticipated. The refreshments are plentiful. There is no worry that I am being interrupted. There is no worry that something isn’t getting done, because, in fact, the most important thing I can do is what is happening – building relationships as we share our lives and faith.