Healing 'Church hurt' with coffee and community
From Share Change - an initiative of the The Salvation Army
In Cleveland, Tennessee, a small town of 40,000, there are headquarters of 7 Christian Denominations and over 300 churches - but less than 20% of the people there actually attend church. A common issue reported is ‘church hurt’ - pain stemming from experiences within a church community.
For 10 years, the Salvation Army has been working to help heal these wounds through a relational ministry at Inman Coffee - a full-service coffee shop. It’s an intentional place of building relationships with others and loving them in a way that leads them to the love of God. They have experienced some kind of wounding from inside of a church community.
Here are some quotes from people affected:
"When I was little, in the denomination I grew up, God was very judgmental, he was very hateful, and he was certainly not approachable. I got baptized like ten times because I had to make sure it was right. Anytime there was an altar call, I was like, 'Well, I better, you know, I don’t know, I don’t know if I sinned today. I better go get it right.' So there was this journey to rightness, and it is so not what Jesus meant for us."
"As I got older, as I started listening, and I started thinking for myself, I just found a massive disparity between the life and actions of Jesus Christ, and the church institutions that I’ve grown up around. I mean, everything from disparaging any sort of difficult conversations that maybe, kind of go against the narrative, to some really terrible things, like covering up abuse. And that did sort of build up over years and years and years to a point of bitterness."
"My mum died when I was a kid, and my dad was like a massive drug addict, alcoholic. I grew up in a church where members that were struggling with their marriages didn’t talk about them. We just sat them in the back row instead. And it’d be like, 'Don’t do that.' or 'Sit on the front row and be quiet.' and, 'Show up looking your best, and being your best.' Well, what if I’m not doing my best? Who’s there for me? Who can I go to? I didn’t really know where I fit in with this God that they talked about, because I have to be fake. I have to be this face, this mask with God too."
The manager of the Inman Coffee cafe, Joel Rogers says, "We’re not just slinging coffee. We don’t hire ‘Baristas,’ we hire ‘Baristas / Youth Ministry Workers’, because we want them to come with that perspective of every day, behind the counter, I may be the one that a customer comes in and just locks onto me, and realizes it’s a safe zone. We thought, 'It’s going to take a little bit to establish ourselves in people’s lives.' But what we saw was they were immediately feeling so welcome that they were staying for hours their first visit, and we were seeing that community form really early.
"We pray for God to send us people who just don’t know where to go. If nothing else, that people see Inman Coffee as a place that’s safe, that if they’re feeling wounded, they can hobble on in here. We may not be able to patch it up completely, but we’re going to start treating it. We just want to be a part of the healing. God has sent us so many amazing people, who have come in with some level of wounding, and have left empowered to not just be a part of the faith community again, but to be a part of sharing the faith."
Read the full article here.
Watch this 5 min video:
To what extent do we need such a ministry here in the UK? See this article about those that have left churches; The largest part of the Church in the UK.
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