Alphabet City Cafe is a bustling commercial cafe on High Street, Northcote (an inner northern suburb of Melbourne, Australia). There are four or five large crowded rooms – walls decorated with the works of local artists – where friends meet for coffee or a meal to talk, read, catch up. The rooms are open to each other – but each provides its own environment. Twice each week a room at Alphabet City Cafe becomes a 'church' – or gathering place for believers and their friends. On Tuesday evening, it is Tangent – and on Thursday evening, Jeebus. Friends meet – and over a meal or coffee – they read their Bibles, discuss life and faith, pray and worship, share with their friends. Rather than investing in expensive property, more and more churches are finding ways to use the available places in their communities to gather, worship and plan. And, it puts the church back into the community!
Great post! The use of places to meet that are more public is interesting to me as I am currently doing a church planting internship. I’m giving a lot of thought to this type of thing. Do you find that this creates interactions and opportunities to engage with those who don’t follow Jesus?
It puts our faith journey on the path of life – challenging us to be real. Its opens up opportunities to meet and talk with some who don’t presently follow Jesus. It provides a great environment to read the Bible with friends who are asking about Jesus – and fosters the idea that faith is lived in the community. It provides a venue without the huge overhead of ‘church buildings’, insurance, maintenance, etc – and allows the church to give to those oppressed by our society!
I agree with Peter’s comments about the advantages of utilising public spaces for church. I would also add that it is a great reminder of mission to those who use the space, when we control the space ala a church building we can insulate the church from the outside world. Not so in a public space. It is also a lower hurdle for people to invite friends into the space… atleast sometimes.
However a note of warning, being in public spaces for worship does not make us missional. We need to do more than simply move our worship/community time into public spaces and we must intentionally build relationships with those who are asking about Jesus.