Friday, November 5, 2010

November 2010 Update

October 2010
Java Journey is an ebb and flow, innovative missional ministry in Hickory, North Carolina formed from mutual visions of Jeff & Teena Stewart, Dennis & Jeannie Cheuvront in January 2010. We are categorically an Evangelical Covenant church, but do not operate conventionally. There are very few “members” and “attendance” is not taken.

When people ask us to describe our ministry it is often difficult to put into words since we are “cut out of a different cloth.” I usually default to sharing a recent experience I had.

I drove by a church once and noticed the marquee. It said: "Free Ticket to Heaven. Details Inside." As I thought about someone who may take a serious interest, I couldn't help but also notice that there were no cars in the parking lot and the doors were more than likely locked - being a Friday morning. I guess the person(s) who put up the letters imagined someone looking at the service times on Sunday and writing it down in their calendar.

George Barna wrote an article in 2006: "Spirituality May Be Hot in America, But 76 Million Adults Never Attend Church." In the article he presents statistics from various people with differing spiritual backgrounds. Despite the variety, the main point is that a majority of people are going about their day on Sunday as if it were any other day of the week.

This fuels the passion we want to pursue as we go about the vision of Java Journey. We are not in a westernized "competition" with local parishes or even coffee shops. We hope to compliment both endeavors, especially the former.

By our combined ministry experiences, we’ve discovered that opportunities have a daily - even hourly frequency. One building on one day at one location for an hour or so will not satisfy the demand presented with such a frequency in our current culture. Java Journey’s hope is to fill a 6-day gap. Leonard Sweet, with great insight, stated in his book “SoulTsunami” (1999): “The only church that can afford to be indifferent to trends is a church that is not on a mission...the ticking sound's of the church's clocks tend to lull rather than alarm, partly
because they have a dated ring, sounding the ring of a culture that is rapidly disappearing.”

Two stories illustrate who we are and want to be.

Two men came walking into the shop on a Sunday morning, thinking we were open for “business” (we’re closed on Sunday but have an open participation gathering from 10:30 – Noon). They wanted some tea and then asked about who we were since they had dropped in on Friday night during our live music. When I told them we were “a church disguised as a coffee shop” they became intrigued. It was sort of like the woman at the well, where conversation naturally flowed from basic need to spiritual matters. They wanted to talk about "Spirituality, energy and Jesus." We willingly shook off the tension of closing the conversation with them so we could commence our own group gathering. Both of them had been raised in a church environment, but felt that the church was too narrow and judgmental. We were able to have free flowing 45 minute discussion about the teachings and message of Jesus without historic tension. Prior to leaving, one said, "I'm a New York cynic (about organized religion), but this place is a good place. We'll be back."

Two “regulars” came into the coffee shop about an hour before closing one night. It has been reported to me by more than one that they are friends beyond casual friendship. The conversation quickly turned to “God-talk” – by them. It gladdened my heart to hear one of them proclaim the supremacy of Christ and his grace- especially from what he accomplished on the cross. In the conversation, the person courageously stated to me: “I am a weak man. I don’t know what I would do without grace. I’m a very weak man.”

That's part of what we want to provide through Java Journey. We're “out there” where the everyday world lives. We are looking for the higher frequency of opportunities to point to Christ as “The Unknown God” so that people will discover a 24/7 loving, caring, redeeming God. We have seen remarkable transformation take place before our eyes in many peoples’ lives since launching in January 2010.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Scooting to the Top

Two stories to share here.

Story # 1
When we lived in Colorado, we would periodically drive up to the top of Pike’s Peak in the summer. You obviously can’t do it in the winter as the grated road is covered under several feet of snow above the tree line.

Back then (around 2000) we would pay about $10 per carload and travel the 19 miles of windy road to the 14,155-foot summit. I don’t remember how long it took, but it seemed like an eternity for going less than 20 miles. It always felt like a feat when we would finish the climb and get out of the car into the cold, thin air.

Story # 2
About 10 years ago, my brother’s father-in-law acquired a Vespa when he was in his 70’s. If you don’t know what that is, it’s one of those little Italian scooters that became more popular when gasoline peaked at 4+ dollars a few years ago.

His family called it “Hardly a Davidson.” He even had a helmet with the HD logo on it. The Vespa got him from point A to point B, but not with the same speed and comfort of a car, truck or even the real HD. Besides the lethargic pace it provided, he also had to endure a lot of people pointing and laughing.

Combining 2 Stories
Lately at Java Journey people ask us how we are doing. They most often mean that they want to know how business is progressing. I tell them that we are indeed making progress, but it is gradual and slow. Being non-profit and depending on volunteers and donations to operate, does not provide the means of quickly creating a cash flow that will bolster our endeavor. But that does not mean that we are not experiencing an ascent in our momentum. So I communicate this to the people who ask by way of illustration.

The only way I can give them a visual of Java Journey’s progress is to inform them that our pace is sort of like climbing Pike’s Peak with a Vespa scooter. We’re moving from point A to point B and we’re gaining altitude as we progress. But it’s hard to notice when the rest of the world expects rising to the top to happen with much more speed.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Mazel Tov!

The reality of the busy-ness of life delayed the anticipated arrival of the Conti Twin Star 2, but Christmas morning came yesterday afternoon at 2149 N Center St.

I kept watching for a proverbial pot to boil out the front door waiting for a semi to pull up with our new toy. All of the sudden, I hear a very loud banging on the back steel door about 100 feet away. It's a good thing I got my new hearing aid for my "good" ear last week since I actually detected the initial hand to door engagement.

I did a quick jog to the door and opened it. The man started to ask "Java Jo..." when I said "Yeah! You've got our espresso machine."

Rhett Mullinax (our new super volunteer) and Ben showed up in time to help me move it to a table (200+ lb) until we could move the old machine over. It took us about an hour to get it hooked up and powered up (in NC lingo: "cut on.") The boilers filled up and achieved proper temperature in about 25 minutes. After filling up the new grinder (which came with the package) and flushing the system a bit, we started pulling shots.

I had the first consumed latte from it (which is pictured above) and found it delightfully smooth. Not that the old machine did not produce a good flavor, but this one created a "new and improved" version.

Over the next few days, we will become familiarized with it and train our volunteers how to use it. It should not be much of a challenge since this one is easier to use than the old Conti machine. It's also faster and will help us expedite the making of espresso-based beverages during rush times (like Friday night live music).

We will use the old one for remote purposes since it is portable and uses 110v.

If you're local, come and check out our "new arrival."

Thursday, April 1, 2010

A Post From 2 Years Ago.

Thought this was worth reposting for those who may not have seen it or haven't scrolled back with this blog.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008
Your Mind on Caffeine
A good friend of ours (Tom Lindholtz) passed this along from a good friend of his (John Fischer). He describes very well what we've been conveying to others about the passion we have in our vision.

Researchers at the University of Queensland in Australia have released a recent study showing that caffeine makes people more open to logical argument, even when it runs counter to their previously held opinions. The caffeine group, across the board, tested out as being consistently more open-minded than the decaf group. This would definitely lend new credibility to the belief that conversations over coffee are a good thing. An open mind is necessary for any relationship to grow. You have to be open to another way of thinking to relate to someone, because we are all different – we have different backgrounds, different gifts, and we see things from different points of view. Lasting relationships grow out of accepting one another's differences. We appreciate each other more through consensus than through conformity. This kind of open-mindedness in relationships is important for more reasons than just our differences. It is important because we are always changing, and since we are all in process, we have to remain open to that process in each other. My road will not be yours; yours will not be mine, even if we walk together. God has different plans for each of us. Jesus Christ did not die to create clones. He died so He could fill each one of our unique natures with Himself. And finally, part of who we are becoming involves those closest to us. We are not who we are in a vacuum. We are a product of the people we know and how we have grown together. We shape each other. When this aspect is strong, there is a healthy push and pull at work. "As iron sharpens iron, a friend sharpens a friend." (Proverbs 27:17 NLT) Belief has commonly been associated with a closed mind. This is unfortunate because nothing could be further from the truth. Belief opens you up to God and gives you his Spirit to help reinterpret the world around you. Belief is all about discovery, and just as our relationships with each other are not static, neither is our relationship with God. We are constantly discovering more about God and his world, and we are constantly discovering more about ourselves and those around us. So pour another cup of brew for you and that friend. Open your hearts and minds to each other, and get ready for a surprise.

Wow! Very profound that "We appreciate each other more through consensus than through conformity." And all these years we've been working with the premise that inviting them to come to a place we like to gather for one hour a week will cause them to reconsider whether God cares and actually lives or not.

This is why we are rethinking "The Word became flesh and dwelt among us."

Jeff and Teena

Friday, March 19, 2010

About a Year Ago

I'm reposting this to illustrate the "Present/Future" principle. That is - how God comes through when we struggle with our "now" situation by reviewing how progress was made.

GPS "God Possesses Sovereignty"

"Recalculating route. Make the next legal U-turn."

For those of you who have been following our very deliberate process, you will recall how we wrestled with the issue of either going non-profit or for-profit. We initially chose the latter.

Now that we've hit a giant stone wall of the banking industry freezing loans (we applied to 6), we've discovered that in the time-period, we saw community and like-minded vision develop with different fellowships. This was a surprise we did not anticipate or foresee. Our organic (house) church has been fortified by the strength of trust and intimacy that we did not have the first 12 months of living here. The support of what we want to do has flourished into the hearts of those who are part of our bi-weekly gatherings. Other followers are hearing the heartbeat too. On Sunday, May 24th, we will share our vision with Trinity Fellowship Church in Hickory. Our prayer is that we will appeal to those who can help us upfit the location for reaching out to the community through Java Journey.

So as it stands presently, we are going establish Java Journey under the umbrella of Living Hope Church (an established non-profit). LH will eventually buy the equipment we have purchased and will oversee the JJ ministry and operation.

We will provide more details as we travel down this artery.

I'm amazed at what has happened in the last 11 months. God is gracious.

Friday, March 5, 2010

We're Expecting

From one of my favorite Broadway musicals:

Rabbi! Rabbi! Did you hear the news?
More bad news?
No, good news. At Motel's and Tzeitel's, a new arrival.
A new arrival at Motel's!
We just heard the good news!
Mazel tov!
Thank you very much.
- It's a nice thing.
- Yes, it is. Very nice.
What is it?
It's a sewing machine!

We rejoice in the news that Ben and Rebekah are anticipating an addition to their family in less than 9 months. But we also are eager about an added piece of equipment as well - a major piece.

If you scroll backward to our post from December 4, 2007, you'll see that we were excited about a super automatic espresso machine that we had purchased. At the time, we didn't realize that it would sit for 2 years before being used. Once we got the service area prepared and had 2 men (making karate noises - it weighs about 200 LB) move it into place, we plugged it in the the 220v plug and hooked up the water supply. The machine powered up and looked ready to go when we noticed a growing puddle forming on the surface below it.

It seems that sitting (even though it was in a climate controlled environment) is not good for a machine with seals and o-rings that need to be pressurized and working. So we took it to our newly found roaster and machine techs in Asheville. Making a long story short, it was very difficult to find the needed parts. So we set up what we thought would be our "back-up" (The "Conti Bar") as our main machine. It has performed very well for us.

Somehow we hooked up with an automatic espresso machine specialist in the Denver, CO area. Making a long story short again, he said he was confident he could find a buyer. He also politely told us (not being the first either) that the machine was too productive for our setting. There are 2 machines like it serving Denver International Airport adequately. So 2 at Denver's airport and 1 on a main drag in Hickory, NC - ? You get the picture.

As he was preparing to send an offer by e-mail, he quickly followed the message up with another one suggesting another possibility. He had a relatively new 2-group espresso machine that had limited use as collateral for a coffee shop that did not succeed. Would we consider an even trade - he would pay for all shipping. He leveled with us and stated that what we had was worth more, but he would make sure the machine we were getting was in top working order and we could ship our machine "as is."

We realize that on paper, people may consider us naive for being on "the short end" but we're all comfortable with the prospect. It's God's money anyway - is it not?

We are now in the process of shipping our machine (in 2 pieces) and he is tweaking his machine and will ship it in a few days.

So - we're preparing to say mazel tov! when the new arrival gets here.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Opening was Grand

Friday and Saturday - Jan 22 & 23 - were major networking days for us. Since then, we have had people coming on a more frequent basis. It's not enough for us to be self-sustaining, but it is progressing in that direction.

We were able to raise close to $400 for Covenant World Relief's efforts in Haiti. We hope that this will also create the segue for many more benevolent causes we can partner with.

I'm attaching a video from Paul Cummings concert on the 23rd. As you can see, it was very helpful in raising the awareness of our existence. video

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Volunteer Baristas? A Coffee Shop of a Different Flavor

After two years of planning, praying, and persevering, Jeff and Teena Stewart’s brainchild, Java Journey, is finally ready for its grand opening. The event is scheduled for January 22 and 23rd. The coffee shop is a product of many back-breaking hours put in by the Stewarts and countless volunteers. The Stewarts made a radical decision to leave traditional church ministry in California to pursue their dream of doing something out-of-the-box that would impact the lives of the people in their community in a positive way using Christian principles as its foundation.

Jeff says he’s objective when he calls it “the warmest coffee shop in town.” Java Journey’s tag line is ‘where coffee, caring, and community connect. From the moment you walk into the store, you know it’s different. “We want people to care about the environment, about people and about the community,” says Teena. The counter, built by volunteer labor and covered with recycled maps and electricians copper, reflects these core values.

The coffee shop will host a variety of activities. A portion of its proceeds go back into the community to help various charities and causes. The store even has an electronics recycling program.

The Stewart’s original plan was to use a portion of the proceeds from the sale of their California home (sold just before the housing market tanked) to open the store and secure a loan for the rest. But they ran into a snag because of the spiraling economy. Banks were no longer willing to lend to start ups. However, with a little creativity and a lot of faith, they skirted the roadblock and purchased used furniture and fixtures and accepted items as donations. They enlisted volunteers to work in a variety of capacities including counter help, and found much of the furniture and equipment at auctions, thrift stores, and yard sales.

Planned activities include recovery group options, life-equipping and spiritual formation classes, Sunday gatherings, wholesome secular and Christian music, video nights, and more. Sinai Vessel is slated to play the evening of Friday, January 22 from 7-9 pm during the grand opening. The event is free to the public.