Wednesday, September 19, 2007
As is true to form with the dark comedic format this tragic story tells, the town's spiritual leader (No name given other than "Our Beloved Rabbi") remarks: "Our forefathers have been forced out of many, many places at a moment's notice." Tevye has a typical dichotomous simple/profound response: "Maybe that's why we always wear our hats."
As we face the Abrahamic dilemma of "going to a place we do not know" we trust and take comfort in God's promises. They are not mere poetry - rather revelation to rely on with a proven track record for multiple generations of followers.
Among the promises are the words found in Isaiah 45:2 &3
I will go before you
and will level the mountains;
I will break down gates of bronze
and cut through bars of iron.
I will give you the treasures of darkness,
riches stored in secret places,
so that you may know that I am the LORD,
the God of Israel, who summons you by name.
Monday, September 17, 2007
So, while we were still in NC this summer where we combined researching our coffee shop idea with visiting family, we finally reached the conclusion after a lot of prayer that this was God speaking and that we'd better listen. As soon as we told our family about our crazy decision, the fiery arrows started zinging toward us.
The first news, before we even boarded the plane to come back to CA, was that Gaby, our 23-year-old who lives with us, lost her job. So that meant we'd be putting our house on the market and literally selling it out from under her. (Not that we don't think it's time for her to leave.
Then there were the financial set backs. I'd been stashing as much as I could into savings which isn't saying much considering we already had to pull out of equity to manage California cost of living. And with the big bucks I make as a very part-time admin assistant and a freelance writer who'd put column writing on hold to pursue book writing, and having just come out of paying for Rachel, out oldest daughter's wedding in CO, there wasn't much padding there.
So, where was I. Oh yes, so the financial set backs started coming. We put the house on the market and were told we have to have everything pristine in order to be competitive. That meant the fogged up windows in the kitchen and dining room had to be replaced. Cha-ching. There went that money. Then my faithful Bonneville started acting up and had to have a major tune-up. Cha-ching. More savings down the tubes. Then Jeff, who officiates sports, called on Saturday night en route back from a football game to tell me he had knocked out his front veneer tooth AND we were supposed to do a presentation on this entire ministry idea the next day at both Sunday services.
He'd look like a hillbilly! After calls to several dentists who I learned are not on call like doctors, we temporarily solved the fix with super glue. I'm not kidding.
It held for two days until Jeff could go into dentist. Total cost for a new restoration, $780. Cha-ching. So God has allowed our small savings to dwindle. Looking back. I have to say that it's probably not a coincidence. When God tells us he wants us to step out in faith, sometimes he helps us along by taking away anything that will cause us to rely on our own power.
Now, let me share some of the cool stuff God has been doing. First, after three months of unemployment, Gaby got a job at--where else--a coffee shop. Jordan has pulled out of the tailspin and has seen his campus relationships improve and is doing better spiritually.
We've had numerous people come up to us and tell us how excited they are about our new ministry and that they want to help.
God to use them to help launch a new ministry and then our ministry appeared. (God, you are too cool.) And then another person handed us a check and told us she prayed over it and felt that that was the figure God told her to give. She also is going to try to contact a relative in VA who is a lawyer to see if she will do pro-bono work to help us figure out the legalities of non-profit versus profit + ministry to see which animal our coffee shop should be.
And then there was the couple who offered us our choice of a used car or van which we could either give to Jordan for transportation to college or for us to sell to have the extra cash to use for ministry needs. Way cool.
Oh yeah. And the housing market is pretty dead. We had no calls to view our home this weekend, however, our next door neighbor told Jeff his sister-in-law wanted to move closer to them and she was visiting. Could they take a tour of our home. Well, of course we said, "yes." So God is working.
Keep praying for the sale of our home, that it will be soon and for a good price. We need the money for the business start up.
Tuesday, September 11, 2007
A friend who wanted to help but was maxed out on charitable contribution commitments, came up with a creative solution. She and her husband both frequent a well-known coffee shop franchise. Every time they purchase a cup of coffee, they plan to put a matching amount into a coffee cup earmarked for the Java Journey ministry.
Teena Stewart has served as a ministry development team leader and a ministry discovery seminar teacher. In addition, she is a published author, speaker, ministry consultant & coach, and product and pr specialist for DreamBuilders Ministry in Motion. To learn more about her writing, speaking and ministry visit Teena's web page
Jeff Stewart, Pastor of Discipleship at Northgate Christian Fellowship is also a published author. You can read more about his spiritual journey and ministry thoughts on his blog a different cloth.
The Stewarts are being called to a new type of Christians coffee shop ministry that is still in formation. Below is their story and their vision. For regular updates on the coffee shop ministry's progress you can view the RSS links on the right hand side of the page which link to their coffee shop blog. Feel free to post questions and comments.
THE JAVA JOURNEY
A few years ago Jeff and Teena Stewart began noticing that coffee shops were becoming a growing trend. Why would people pay $4.00 for a cup of coffee? They began to understand first hand after participating in the establishments themselves. It wasn't just about a beverage. It was much more. People from a variety of cultures and age groups love to make a coffee shop a part of their day, whether hanging out with friends, or just passing through to grab a savory hot beverage. It's hard to feel like a stranger in such an intimate setting.
An idea started brewing. What if the Stewarts could somehow use this type of relaxed environment to connect with unchurched people? A critical element of sharing the greatest message of all is being able to have uninhibited rapport. A large population of people will never set foot in church no matter how hard Christians try to get them there. The coffee shop environment is ideal for connecting and potentially reaching these people. The Stewarts started kicking around the idea of a Christian coffee shop ministry with some Christian friends. But nothing materialized at that time.
They weren't discouraged, but continued to dream about and discuss the idea. Having read several cutting edge books that discussed current thoughts and trends on reaching unchurched people, their idea gained velocity. They decided it was time to do serious research. This time they traveled to North Carolina to survey some locations, study working coffee shops, and talk with a budding Christian coffee franchise developer. They also met with a small group of believers who were already ministering in a coffee house type of ministry (mostly Christian music and worship minus the coffee).
After lots of prayer and research, the Stewarts feel called to pull up roots and do something new and out of the box by starting a coffee shop ministry in Hickory , North Carolina working with this core group of believers. The Stewarts have a passion for being “out there” where most of the hungry and lost people are. It's a risky venture, and involves selling their home with no sure promise of support or success.
Below are the specifics of how this ministry vision is unfolding.
THE CHRISTIANS COFFEE SHOP VISION
Our mission is to create an appealing, professional looking coffee shop where people will want to linger not only for a cup of coffee, but to learn, and latch on to the Christian message and its principles.
The Stewarts will work in cooperation with a small coffee house ministry called Cup of Life associated with Living Hope Covenant Church in Hickory, North Carolina. This small body of believers has already been hosting innovative worship services and Christian concerts in a former restaurant facility. They plan to join forces with the Stewarts, utilizing their coffee shop establishment to continue to provide Christian music and a worship community along with other ministry opportunities such as small groups, benevolence outreach, prayer ministry and more.
THE COFFEE BUSINESS
The Stewarts have researched a new and growing franchise called Moby's Coffee. Moby's mission is similar to the Stewart's coffee shop vision, to provide professional quality coffee, drinks and pastries in an inviting environment with Christian music events on the side. The Stewart's plan is to open either a Moby's franchise or a similar. Profits from coffee sales will hopefully help the Stewarts pay for necessities such as living space, food, gas, health care and other every day living expenses.
THE CHRISTIAN MINISTRY
In addition to offering worship and music gatherings, the Stewarts envision other ministry too. Imagine an inviting place where people (including non- believers) can turn in prayer requests or have someone listen to them and pray with them privately. Or a place that would be a hub for launching small communities of in-home study groups where people can learn about the Bible, grow in their faith and even find support from addictive and destructive behaviors. Imagine a coffee shop where the regulars could bring benevolence offerings of canned and dried goods or make a donation to a highlighted charity of the month, where people learn to care about people and in the process live out what it means to engage Christ's love by action?
HOW WILL THE COFFEE SHOP AND MINISTRY INTERFACE?
God, and the Stewarts are still working out the details on how they will collaborate with Living Hope. Living Hope is willing to switch locations in the Hickory area, and may be able to help pay partial rent on the coffee shop or a small stipend to Jeff for his teaching ministry in exchange for sharing the coffee shop space. But they are too small to support a full-time pastor's salary. The Stewarts currently have their California home on the market and plan to invest the money they make from the sale of the home in a Moby's Coffee franchise, the headquarters of which is based in Mount Airy, North Carolina, or in establishing an independent coffee shop. The proceeds from goods sold via the coffee shop business will help support the Stewarts and the business itself will be set up as a for profit business.
One of Moby's stipulations is that the franchisee/owner must have regular Christian music events and worship gatherings. Living Hope plans to help with this as well as with small groups. In addition, the Stewarts will work with this group to develop more methods of reaching and teaching people about Christ and multiplying more communities.
The new ministry is a unique hybrid and somewhat unprecedented. It is essentially a church/ministry launch. After the Stewarts sell their home they will have enough for most of the basic start up costs of the franchise, but not for the extra costs of a home, cost of living or for ministry expenses. Like missionaries, they need to raise support for the extras in order to commence on this innovative venture. Unlike missionaries, and more similar to church plants, they and the ministry will eventually become self-supporting. With a good start, the need for continued support will be devoted more to prayer and encouragement and less to financial resources.
HOW CAN YOU HELP?
After much and often intense prayer, as well as careful consideration, the Stewarts feel God is giving them a strong green light but also stirring in them the need to share their vision and support opportunity with friends. So, here are specifics you can pray for or support.
Transportation. They will donate their 1998 mini van to their son, Jordan, who is still enrolled in DeVry University in Freemont, CA in order for him to have transportation. They will need a second vehicle once they relocate so that they can both work. Estimated cost of a used van or truck would be $5,000.
Moving expenses. They estimate the cost to move from Benicia, CA to Hickory, NC to be about $9,000.
Housing. They will most likely rent a dwelling place first and then look for a home to buy later. The estimated funds needed for housing for the first year is $15,000.
Health insurance. Neither the ministry nor the coffee shop provides health insurance so we ,and our one dependent, Jordan, will still need health insurance estimated at $300 a month.
Temporary income. While we are getting established, we will need income for groceries, gas and other expenses.
Here are several options for how you can help.
* Pray for us and the needs expressed above.
* Sign up for our email updates.
* Contribute financially
(COPY AND PASTE SUPPORT CARD BELOW TO AN MS-WORD DOCUMENT)
Java Journey Support Card
__I am donating $______ as a one time gift.
__I am pledging $______ per month for a year from date of this first check.
__I pledge to pray for you and your ministry.
__Yes. Sign me up for your e-mail updates.
__I would like to help in some other way. Please call me to learn more. My phone # ( ) _____ _________
Make donations out to Living Hope Covenant Church with "Coffee Shop Ministry" in the memo.
Mail pledges and donations to: Living Hope Covenant Church, 573 30th Ave. Cir. NE, Hickory, NC 28601
*All gifts will go to the Coffee Ministry fund at Living Hope Covenant Church and are Tax Deductible.
Friday, September 7, 2007
In short - we're launching out to start a church without conventional clergy and laypeople, but of baristas and patrons.