Written By Josh Smith
God called me to plant a church…wait, what?
That was a scary thought for me; I’m not a pastor, I’m not qualified for this. You’ve got the wrong guy, God!
This call has led me on a journey over the last two years—one that has led me to understand that God called me to do this precisely because I am me, not in spite of it. This is also why the church we are planting doesn’t look like your standard church plant.
We opened The Coffee House in the centre of our small community of Cookstown back in June. This is the place God moved my family and me to almost three years ago. He knew exactly what He was doing long before we did. As I began to explore the idea of planting a church, it was clear that Cookstown was the place, and this is why we were here.
It was also clear that God wanted this church to look different. Presence in a community is so important, and I knew that God didn’t want us to just rent a space and pop-up for a Sunday service and disappear during the week. This can be a great way of gathering together Christians in a community, but people who don’t follow Jesus aren’t going to come just because there is a new church in town. In some cases, the way we are doing church in Canada needs to change so that we can reach our neighbours with the Good News of Jesus. We cannot expect them to come to us, we need to go to them.
Through the leading of the Spirit, we decided to open The Coffee House. It’s a place where we are able to connect God’s love with daily life. It’s a place where we can engage with our community as part of the community. It’s a place where we can simply be present in our neighbourhood.
We also decided to run it a little differently. We give everything away for free! We do accept cash donations that help cover the cost of the food and coffee, but it is completely optional. We have found that this invites people to ask questions. So, instead of us having to try and force Jesus into a conversation, people openly invite us to talk about Him—it has been quite amazing. We are then able to connect the Gospel of Jesus with what we are doing and why. We are able to offer our presence and blessing straight to our community. It just doesn’t make sense to people that we would give things away so freely, yet this is exactly what God does for us.
While I believe that in certain cases, we need to change the way we do church, I still believe that gathering as a community regularly is important. We will use The Coffee House as our gathering place on Sundays starting in October. The church will meet in The Coffee House, allowing us to change the way people think about church. It will help us to make the point that church was never meant to be a building or a place. The Coffee House is a place, the Church is the people.