One of our Westside Kids ministry workers told me a story about a kid in her Pre-K Class. During part of the lesson, the teachers were to ask the kids, “Who is the strongest person you know?” As she asked, one of the little boys said, “Jesus is! You told us that two weeks ago!” It was exciting to hear how the kids in our church are remembering the things they are being taught week after week. I’m consistently inspired by the efforts of our Kid’s Ministry workers, who don’t always get a chance to see the progress week after week. We realize that in kids’ and teen ministry, that you may not get to see the fruit of your labor until these children become college students and professional young people with families, holding a solid foundation in their faith and instilling those Christian values into their own family life.
Similarly, I was reminded this past week of how we hang on to the things we are taught far beyond the day that they were taught to us. While I was working at GTAustin in Texas, my pastors and mentors consistently emphasized the importance of “becoming a regular” in local businesses. Our Master’s Commission Director (whom I served under) would always study at the same coffee shop (Genuine Joe) and get to know the baristas that worked there. We also held our Off-Site staff meetings in that same coffee shop. They knew who we were and where we worked and it was up to us to share the practical side of Christ’s love with them. Even when I go home to visit, I always make it a point to stop in for coffee at Genuine Joe. Through the years, that practice has stuck with me and I’ve established the same connections here in Seattle. As I’ve adopted this concept, it hasn’t really been about the coffee as much as it has been the building of relationships. . . . I’ll admit, it does help that I LOVE coffee. ;)
In my own neighborhood, I frequent 2 coffee shops: The Jewel Box Cafe (which I call Hogwarts) and Cloud City Coffee. When I’m working at the job downtown, I either stop by Metropolitan Market or Caffe Ladro. I’ve taken time to get to know these baristas and they have taken efforts to remember my name and my drink/food order. They notice when I’m not around and when I do show up again, we play catch-up. It’s been really fun to find a local coffee shop “where everybody knows your name.”
Every Sunday morning and afternoon, I get coffee from Robertino’s, a coffee shop just a couple of blocks away from Westside Church. I know the baristas and they know me. They know what I do, where I work, and also notice when I don’t stop by. Often, some of the 2Twelve youth students will stick around with me after morning church services and we will hang out together until youth group in the evening. When it was still in business, our routine was to eat lunch at Great Harvest Bread Co. (we miss it dearly), then grab coffee at Starbucks, and finally head back to the church to get things set up for the youth service. Since Robertino’s closes at 5p, we would always head there at 4:30 to grab some pre-service drinks and treats. The baristas have always been warm, friendly, and attentive while we placed our large and often times confusing order. Then we’d head back to the church and get on with our evening. Over the past month, our youth schedule has been off-and-on due to holidays and special events, so I haven’t been able to bring them in with me as much.
It’s been sweet to have the baristas at Robertino’s ask me how the 2Twelve students are doing and how our youth group is going. I even got a chance to meet a new barista the other day and invited her to join us for a service at Westside. She appreciated the offer, but told me she attends another church in the area. However, that didn’t stop us from talking about our faith and I even found out that just like me, she has “faith roots” in The Assemblies of God. It was cool to share some quality time with her and begin to build that relationship. On Saturday, as I was preparing the Easter Baskets for our Westside Kids Crew Leaders, I felt compelled by the Holy Spirit to make an Easter Basket for the baristas at Robertino’s. I tried to drop it off on Sunday, but they were closed, so I decided to drop it off yesterday and the barista was so excited to enjoy and share the treats with her co-workers. She then asked me how our Easter service went and what I was up to at work that day. We chatted for a bit about before the next customer walked in and went on with our day.
I treasure those special connections and I’m looking forward to even more when I move to Green Lake! What about you, do you have any “regular” spots that make you feel like you walked into an episode of Cheers? If not, I really encourage you to do that—the power of intentional connection in community is a gift that keeps on giving!