When I look at the current landscape of the church culture in North America, I think that pastors, in general, have fallen into a rut that is way more cultural than it is biblical. I think that today’s pastors spend way too much time in the office, and not enough time at the coffee shop!
“But Ryan, I don’t like coffee…” Ok, you’re missing the point. What I’m saying is not about coffee (although I DO love coffee)! What I’m saying is about people. What I’m saying is that we, as pastors, are spending way too much time holed up in our private boxes, and not enough time out where the public is gathering! We are spending way too much time hiding in our office foxholes, and not enough time on the front lines!
“We, as pastors, are spending way too much time hiding in our office foxholes, and not enough time on the front lines!” Click to Tweet This!
When I read the book of Acts, I see ministry that is dynamic and exciting! And when I look at my church planter/pastor hero, Paul, I see a life that looks radically different than those of most modern-day pastors.
16 While Paul was waiting for them in Athens, he was deeply troubled by all the idols he saw everywhere in the city. 17 He went to the synagogue to reason with the Jews and the God-fearing Gentiles, and he spoke daily in the public square to all who happened to be there.
The first reason I think we should spend more time at the coffee shop is because it’s what Paul did! While Paul was waiting for his ministry partners, Silas and Timothy, to join him, he didn’t go hide (even if he was hiding for the purpose of studying). While he was waiting on his ministry partners, he spent time in the actual city center of Athens.
We, as pastors, should be setting the example for our congregations. Instead of telling them how to live every week, we should humble ourselves just a little bit and actually show them how to live. If we are to be fishers of men, then we’ve got to get out of our offices and spend time with some men! It’s pretty hard to be a fisherman when you aren’t where the fish are!
“It’s pretty hard to be a fisherman when you aren’t where the fish are!” Click to Tweet This!
The coffee shop (or wherever people gather in your particular context) is where the people are! And when you spend time with people, you’ll no longer have to search sermon illustration books for some cheesy story that helps drive home your point (or just makes people groan) every Sunday. Instead, I guarantee you that you’ll see and hear illustrations lived out right before your eyes! I know this, because I experience this every single week.
When I was in seminary, a professor told me that I should spend an hour of study time for every single minute I planned for my sermon to be (if the typical sermon is 35-40 minutes, then I should spend 35-40 hours per week behind a desk, studying). Instead of spending an hour studying for every minute we preach, what kind of difference would it make in our church, in our community, and in our life, if for every minute our sermon lasted, we spent an hour living it out?
“Pastor, instead of spending an hour studying for every minute we preach, what kind of difference would it make in our church, in our community, and in our life, if for every minute our sermon lasted, we spent an hour living it out?” Click to Tweet This!
I believe that pastors should spend less time in the office, and more time living their sermons out. If Paul had subscribed to the typical lifestyle of modern pastors, he would never have known what the people were struggling with. The reason he was troubled was because he saw idols everywhere. And the reason he saw idols everywhere was because he was actually where the people were – in the city! Pastors, if we’re going to preach sermons and lead in a relevant way, it’ll be because we’ve spent time with our people, not because we are holed up in our offices cut off from the “real world”. And yes, in this passage we see Paul going to the synagogue to reason with the God-fearers that were present, but then it says that he went to the public square daily (this is the coffee shop).
So, pastor, my encouragement to you is to try to find time to spend time at the coffee shop, daily! I understand this might be easier said than done, but I believe God will bless your efforts. And as you start to form a pattern of visiting the same coffee shop daily, don’t ever forget that baristas are people too!