Monday, August 11, 2014

Non-Missions Coffee: A Confession about Church

Church has always been an important part of my life—except for that brief time in college when, like any good pastor’s kid, I stopped going. So I don’t mean to make light of church here, but in my estimation, church got better when (1) drinking coffee within a church building’s walls before and after a service became a thing and then (2) in many churches, you could actually drink coffee while worshiping. Yes sir, right there in the sanctuary/auditorium/converted mall.

To be clear, I am no longer sure I could regularly attend a church that does not allow coffee to be consumed on-site, thereby enhancing my all-too-human ability to focus while there. 

A few Sundays ago my husband spoke at a church that is pretty much still in mid-twentieth-century mode. If you think coffee was the last thing on my mind there, you’re wrong. I was thrown back in time to when there was no coffee, except maybe at a pitch-in dinner (guess where I am from based on my use of pitch-in), Easter sunrise breakfast, or in a progressive Sunday school class with one of those chrome coffeemakers with a lever to coax the coffee to dribble out. It was one of my rougher Sunday mornings.

But then this happened, I guess a couple of decades ago? Churches started selling coffee—even the fancy coffee mixtures that I personally scoff—to raise funds, most often for mission work. Right there in the building. Now, I am all for missions for home and abroad. Supporting them is a good thing, and I do. But . . . well . . . I am afraid I am guilty of taking non-missions coffee to church.

See, I make coffee at my house in the morning. Every morning. And especially if we are making it to early church, I sometimes have leftover coffee because I make like a gallon of the stuff, which on most days fuels my freelance work. So what am I supposed to do? Waste coffee on a Sunday? Nooooo. I put it in a thermos-type thingy and take it along.

But then I walk into the church building, see the coffee bar, see where the proceeds go this month, and guilt rains upon me. I have brought non-missions coffee to church. I am scum. I can’t get into the darkened auditorium fast enough to conceal what I have done. Talk about hiding sin.

Sometimes, though, I don’t take coffee with me, and I buy the regular stuff that sits in one of those dribble coffeemakers. Just getting coffee for myself instead of asking one of the church baristas to do it makes me feel better. And that money goes to missions too. For a moment I feel okay about myself. And I make sure I—with right motives, of course—contribute to other mission-support opportunities. 

How else, I ask you, can I explain giant chocolate-peanut-butter candy eggs in my house at Easter?


  1. At my church, you will be able to get free coffee downstairs, but I believe that the only people who take it along with them to the sanctuary, are my two sons and I.

    1. I applaud your bravery--and your church's free coffee policy. But being able to anticipate guilt at every turn, I would be afraid someone would tell me I was doing something w-r-o-n-g if I ventured up the stairs with coffee in hand!


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