Why Pastors Should Buy More Coffee!

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.

Acts 17:16-17

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!


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  1. Thomas

    Wise words my friend, also, becoming a regular at a shop has presented me some great opportunities. Lastly, pastors need not put anything in there coffee (unless a touch of heavy whipping cream) purity is key 😉

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  2. Robert Barnes

    I wanted to give you some gentle pushback on your quote, “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?”

    I came here from Facebook, where I only saw that quote and not the context. I can see that your context is to get pastors out of their “foxholes” and into the world. Spending time at the coffee shop and other locations instead of in the study, you offer, is valuable because we can’t know what’s going on in the world otherwise.

    I agree that some pastors do not know the pulse of their culture or their people. This is not only sad, but sin. A pastor has to know his flock, and no good shepherd can be ignorant of his sheep. See John 10:14.

    I also agree that pastors should look for and be intentional about opportunities to be with real, normal, ordinary people. There’s nothing wrong with having a beer in a bar or a coffee shop or anything like that. I love being with God’s people in God’s world.

    I have two points of critical response, though. I hope it will refine your point and make it better.

    1) You say that unless we spend this time in the coffee shops (and other locations, you are just giving a suggestion on actual location) we won’t know our people. We won’t know “what the people were struggling with.” My response is that we are called to pastor our flock. If we are visiting people even occasionally, spending time in fellowship with our families, hosting small groups, hosting holiday celebrations, and keeping the Sabbath with them, how can we be cut off? Just the ordinary work of being a shepherd to my flock keeps me attuned to what’s going on in their lives. And that’s the primary responsibility I have–to know my flock. Jesus not only identifies himself as the good shepherd, but also says, ‘I know my sheep and my sheep know me’ (Jn. 10:14).”

    If we follow this biblical example of pastoral care, and labor with Christ as his under-shepherds, we won’t need to spend 30 hours a week with the goats as you’ve recommended.

    2) I fail to see any model of pastoring in the Bible that advocates hanging out for 30 hours a week in various establishments as a way of getting from the goats something that’s lacking in the Word of God.

    This is the one that really bothered me as a pastor. Giving me another rule, another goal, another enormous 30 hour job to add to my shepherding, and if I don’t do it, I don’t really know my people or their concerns–this seems cruel. You’ve not added a tool to my toolkit, but a brick in my backpack, making the pastorate seem even more difficult and me an even worse pastor. I hope that no one shares that quote with their pastor.

    I accept your premise that some pastors are in foxholes for no good reason. And I want them out, too. But not like this. Instead, I want them to be shepherds, biblical pastors, and I feel sure (and have experienced it as so) that God gives grace to do our callings as established by his Word.

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      Hey Robert! Thanks for your passionate and well thought out response! I love it!
      On your first point, I would say that we tend to agree, it just may be a matter of semantics. It’s not so much about being in an establishment as it is being among the people.

      On your second point is where we may disagree. Again, not so much worried about the establishment, but more the “public square.” And I am by no means suggesting replacing God’s Word with what “the goats” have to say. But I do see an example in Scripture of Someone spending the majority of His time among the people!

      True, Jesus didn’t spend most of His time around the big crowds, but He DID spend as much as 86% of His time with His disciples in tow (they traveled together, ate together, prayed together, taught together, studied together, etc)! My encouragement to follow this pattern of spending more time “in the coffee shop” was not meant to be a burden to anybody at all. It was more of an encouragement to leave the 40 hours of study for a 40 minute sermon behind.

      The thing I love most about your comment, though, is your passion. Thank you! God bless you brother! And even if we disagree on this point, I’d rather us both still be passionate about what we do believe! Blessings on you in your ministry!

      1. Robert Barnes

        Thank you. I agree that 40 hours of study for a 40 minute message is bad stewardship. I spend 5-10 hours on 30 minutes. We agree that there is a problem with over-working a sermon.

        I think the proper application of your point about Jesus and the 86 percent with his disciples is asking if you have people in tow when you are in your coffee shop. Building relationships with deep and personal conversation–people whom God is working on will be hungry for that–maybe more hungry for that than for Jesus. I encourage you to bring your son, your daughter, your interns–quantity time IS quality time. Jesus showed us that.

        I see that your big point is that people spend too much time on sermon prep and not enough rubbing elbows with normal folks. I grant that.

        Merry Christmas!

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