Adventures in Generosity

The occasionally coherent ramblings of a Stewardship Advisor in the Church of England

Trouble brewing ?

Ever had one of those conversations where you thought you were talking about one thing but it turned out that what you were actually talking about was something else entirely ?

Twitter went a bit manic today when a seemingly inoccuous discussion about Coffee and its general quality in church uncovered a seemingly bottomless well of discontent and frustration – which it turns out isn’t really about coffee at all !

The collective conversation which ensued is too lengthy to repeat here – suffice to say that the potential for a book exploring the subject in-depth was mooted as a possibility. But in a nutshell the flow of the conversation went something like this:

A Rev. twitter buddy of mine was in trouble with member or members of her church because the coffee being served at lent groups had been switched from instant to ‘proper coffee’ !!!

Trivial, yes ? we thought so and had a brief titter – but then, someone else asked – why the concern over such trivial matters and why do they seem to blow out of all proportion so very often ? And why, while we are on the subject is the coffee generally served up by churches so woefully awful ?

Tweep after Tweep seemed to join the throng, observing that not only was the coffee generally awful, but the tea and biccies were usually fairly low rent too, and while we’re at it – why do churches insist on sticking up badly designed posters all wonky on scruffy looking noticeboards, what’s with all those old piles of dusty parish mags at the back and why, in short was the church so generally determined that ‘that’ll do’ would do ?

As the conversation continued it seemed the original problem arose because ‘proper’ coffee was all too expensive and that whilst ‘young folk’ could fritter their money on such frivolity as ‘posh coffee’ the church ought to be above such pointless frippery and stand up for… what exactly? bland, second rate beverages?

So now we see – this isn’t about coffee at all ! this is about piety ! self denial ! we are shonky and a bit amateurish because it is what God wants! Away with your warm hospitality, we don’t want to offer the best we can afford to our brothers and sisters, even less to occasional visitors – what God really wants is for us to offer a grudging mug of luke warm sludge and a broken digestive to our guests – right ?

Erm, well, not exactly.

The Bible is fairly clear on the subject of hospitality – my current bible study plan covers passage after passage in the OT commanding Israel to offer the best of their hospitality, to welcome all comers with the very best they have to offer.

Jesus didn’t turn water into any old cheap plonk – He saved the best for last. The prodigal son does not return to a warmed over pot noodle.

The bible exhorts us again and again to treat others with the generosity, love and welcome that we would wish to receive – why ? Because when we honour each other we honour our Creator – because “when you do this to the least of these, you do it to me” .

So what are we saying when we offer less than the best of ourselves ? Whose money, exactly, are we saving ? And what message does our welcome give about the Gospel we proclaim ? Are we guilty of perpetuating an image of the church as cheap, scruffy and deteriorating ?

There is much more to be said following todays discussion – about how this ‘second best is good enough’ attitude spills into our financial stewardship, about attitudes to change and attitudes to the young, about Fair Trade, about our image of ourselves and of God – but for now I would like to exhort each of us with the words of a fellow twitterer @crimperman:

Lets give up bad coffee for Lent !

In our time of preparation lets prepare our churches for Easter morning by throwing open our doors, welcoming all comers with warm and open arms, tidying up a bit and putting on a decent cuppa.

Given the cost of Good Friday I’d say a couple of quid on a packet of Fair Trade Costa Rican was a small price to pay.

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4 Comments»

  themustardseeduk wrote @

Completely agree with this post. Bad coffee, bad posters, bad lighting… we have to realise that in the public’s eye we’re not just being compared with the other old church down the road, we’re also in competition for their attention, time and money with Starbucks, that new Leisure Complex and the garden centre on a Sunday morning.

Yes, what better time than Easter to provide a decent coffee… and how about some decent biccies too?

  Fiona wrote @

Let’s give up bad coffee and general piety as you so aptly put it needs to be right out of the picture. Poverty consciousness serves no one …and better one Belgian Chocolate than a bag of Smart Price generic chocolate bars

  jobeacroftmitchell wrote @

Reblogged this on Adventures in Generosity and commented:

It has been suggested that now might be a good time to resurrect last years #GUBC4L campaign.
I couldn’t agree more – so here, by way of a reminder is my original post on all things hospitable (or not) in church.
Last night I was dividing up our ‘Herman the German’ friendship cake with my 6 year old – who was curious to find out where the first Herman came from, and how the original ‘starter’ was made – when I told him this was a great mystery and nobody seems to know he came up with what to him seemed the obvious answer:
God made the first friendship cake of course – and all the many thousands of little baby Hermans currently circulating are in fact born of that one proto Herman – gifted to us by our Creator as an opportunity to share friendship, a little generosity and a big slab of fruit cake with our friends.
So, this morning I made a decision – we have 3 Hermans to give away – two will be going to friends, but I think the third might well find it’s way to a neighbour I don’t know particularly well – who knows where one simple gesture of hospitality and sharing might lead ?

  Trouble brewing ? « Adventures in Generosity wrote @

[…] Reblogged from Adventures in Generosity: […]


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