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.