Allow me to introduce…
This is Andrea (awn DRAY’ uh, pictured above). She works at the local coffee house where the majority of staff meetings, disciple groups and study sessions happen involving our church, Lawton, Credence. We have been frequenting this place for years now. The coffee is good, but the relationships are our aim.
During the summer of 2020, in the height of the response to COVID-19, one of our Credence community leaders encountered Andrea multiple times the same week. Near closing one night, he asked how we could be praying for her. She said she was looking for people of God who would love her and accept her in their community. He asked if she was part of a church anywhere. She was not.
The following Sunday, the church leader’s wife picked her up to be part of our Sunday gathering. Andrea didn’t have a driver’s license. Her first Sunday was her birthday. We were in house churches at the time due to the pandemic. That house had prepared gifts and flowers, and they celebrated her well!
The host family of that house invited her to stay for lunch; another family invited her to dinner later in the week, and this continued. She now says that not even in her family of origin has she ever been around, served with or worshiped with a group people who loved her like family. In fact, when we encountered her, she did not have a permanent place to live as a 19-year-old. We wouldn’t have known any of that without engaging her.
This came about because of the purposeful, intentional, regular frequenting of places with the love of Jesus and others in mind. We were going to buy coffee and binge the WIFI anyway. We were going to be meeting in a building for, sometimes, hours at a time.
Why not go to the same place over and over and ask the Holy Spirit to open doors of opportunity? Why not ask the additional question, take people’s petitions seriously and take them before the Father? Why not prepare our hearts before we go meet? We think of it like three meetings: the first meeting is with Spirit to prepare, the second is with the staff we know by first name and the names of their family members or pets, and the meeting we were going to have anyway is the third meeting and becomes the bridge to live like Jesus has redeemed us to live (Eph. 2:10).
Today, Andrea is part of the leadership team on one of our Credence Communities who serves a very specific group of people in our city and is sharing the love of Jesus with them. She is also actively working at the coffee house, and she is doing more than sharing espresso. She is actively praying for, loving on and serving the people of this establishment with the love of Jesus.
Andrea is living as a manifestation of a life changed by the Gospel who loves those who haven’t yet been redeemed by Jesus. She has been loved like family and is loving others in that way who aren’t even yet part of the Family of God.
Life change and lifestyle rhythms
This kind of engagement isn’t part of a specific ministry program. It isn’t run by the staff. It doesn’t have a ministry head. It isn’t a formula to follow or a reproducible event. This is the outflow of living a life that recognizes Jesus has redeemed us to put us next to our neighbors, next to our coworkers and next to our barista.
This isn’t a ‘God bless you’ thrown at random. This is a regular engaging of people out of our lives and out of the love of Jesus in us. This is a relationship. This is a life lived as though the people on the other side of the counter aren’t needing from us a transaction. They need a transformation. And that doesn’t come from a transfer of ideas. It comes from being loved by the Family of God as if they are family.
One’s life reflects the heart
Right now service personnel are stretched as thin as ever, as restaurants and coffee houses are short-staffed and often overworked. Imagine that barista is your daughter, your nephew, your sister or your cousin. How would you want them to be loved and encouraged and engaged?
How we live in the often-rushed and passing moments of the coffee house tell us much about the rest of our life. These moments often reveal our impatience, short-sightedness, self-centeredness and our desire to be served rather than serve. Yet Jesus said He came to serve not to be served. And He has served us so well—with all of His life!
The call of Jesus is to share our lives, changed by Jesus, and to share why they have been changed. We say we want to serve others with the name of Jesus on our lips.
Join us by thinking about where you eat, drink, recreate and shop as not just places to make exchanges and transfers, but to make relationships and transformations. Ask the Spirit of God to make your heart aware of those on the other side of the counter. Consider all the places you already frequent, and ask the servers, baristas and cashiers about life and about them.
It might surprise you how much God has already orchestrated these encounters. After all, it’s His mission, and He has invited you to participate with Him. Today, embrace your place as His son or daughter, and go be sent with that kind of love to serve and do so with the name of Jesus on your lips.