23 Lessons Coffee Taught Me About Reaching the Unchurched

I am an anomaly in America culture. At 47 years old, I had never had a cup of coffee until I attended a coffee cupping last week.

Coffee cupping is similar to wine tasting in that you smell the aromas, identify flavors, test texture and then drink different types of coffee.

It is not because of religious reasons that I have not had a cup of coffee. I simply do not enjoy hot drinks. Like many people who have no religious background, I have no coffee background. I was truly an outsider in this group of about 15 people at the event.

Within moments, I began to realize that many people with no church background likely process their church experience in the same fashion I, with no coffee background, was experiencing the coffee cupping.

With that said, the following are 23 lessons coffee cupping taught me about reaching the unchurched. Make sure you read the last two.

1. The room was perfectly laid for the cupping when we arrived. They were expecting us and made sure the environment would be to our liking. Pastors and church leaders, are your facilities set up in a way that communicates to unchurched people that you are expecting them?

2. The barista and his assistant were engaging and very friendly. They were likable, which made me interested in hearing what they had to say.

3. The barista then told us early that “coffee is easy to mess up.” So is the Sunday experience for people with no church background.

4. We sampled three different types of unidentified coffee. People who are seeking a church home will likely sample many different churches.

5. The barista also said, “We’re in an educational time. We want you to know what you’re tasting.” Do you as a church give those with no religious background the time, space and opportunity to become educated in your church and faith? Are they allowed to know what they are tasting?

6. Since I have no coffee background, I only went because a friend invited me.

7. The people in their 20s were more passionately engaged in the experience than us over the age of 40.

8. Of the approximately 15 people involved in the cupping, some were very thorough in their process. Some went through it fast. Some talked about it with others. Some people came across as coffee experts. Everyone will process your church experience in their own way.

9. As someone with no coffee background, all three coffees smelled the same to me — STRONG.

10. A friend of mine said, after smelling the coffees, “I got nothing.” I wondered how many people with no church background will say that after Easter Sunday.

11. Stirring too much messes up the experience. There is a process after foaming called the break. This is when the foam crusts at the top of the cup. You are simply supposed to lightly break it with a spoon, releasing a wonderful aroma. By stirring too much, it prevents you from enjoying the scent. Embrace simplicity.

12. Everyone viewed the smells and tastes of coffee through their own experience.

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Brian Dodd
Brian Dodd is a church stewardship & leadership consultant. See www.briandoddonleadership.com for additional insights.

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