We just got back from a trip to Wisconsin. Our niece got married. We drove up through Atlanta and Nashville and then a long slog through Illinois. We bypassed Chicago by driving through Rockford. On the way home we stopped in Chattanooga, TN and walked around the downtown. I am usually looking for coffee shops and/or bookstores. On E. 7th we stumbled upon Cadence Coffee Shop. It was a comfortable place to sit and and read the books and newspapers on coffee tables. The coffee was superb and the barista professional. I noticed a sign on the counter that invited you to pay $2 extra and buy some one else a cup of coffee. Interesting, I thought, and it made more sense in a moment. Looking around the room I saw an opening leading to a room next door. I walked over and found a large room with portraits of the words Grace, Hope, Love, and Gospel on the walls. It looked to be something like a worship space. Returning to the coffee shop I had some questions for the barista who turned out to be the pastor of the church that met next door. When he greeted the homeless man who came into the coffee shop and handed him a cup of coffee, I thought of the $2.
The pastor had been on a staff of a larger church in another city before he came to Chattanooga. He felt like he was always talking about what the Church should be doing but not doing it. Now, he said, he was. There was a midweek Bible study and a Church service on Sundays, and, of course, it was a coffee shop so there was lots of conversation. The Church was located in a busy downtown area and had a ministry with the homeless.
While we were there a number of business people stopped by for their morning cup of joe and a few homeless guys sat around talking. I asked for more information and he handed me a small card that was available on the counter. It told the name of the Church: River Church and gave a description of what some one could expect to find there. A list that began with the words We ... said things like, We are a melting pot of all types of denominations, and We are big on community; building it and being part of it, and We honor all people, and We believe and share the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and We are moved with compassion for the least and the last, and We are generous in our giving, and We worship passionately because God loves us, and We are disciples who make disciples, and We are risk takers. Finally, We invite you to join us this week.
While we looked around and read the info card, Pastor/Barista Shannon continued to serve others and talk to them. We wished we were going to be around on Sunday for Church but we felt like we had experienced their ministry on Monday.