Wednesday, August 22, 2007

We'll Take Prayer Anytime!

I've made known to more than a few the needs you can see in my previous post (August 10th).

I was warned that some will understand and some will not. And there are those who need to process and digest what it is - exactly - that we are doing.

One particular person - within our mutual large circle - stated: "I almost expected to see a deposit slip at the end of your message ;-)" and then added: "I have never asked for a dime from anyone in my life." I thought about the comment and realized how often this particular person has asked me to pray for them. "Resource is a relative thing." - I thought.

We realize that not everyone will be influenced to provide resources for things that demand capital. That's okay with us. But we DO believe in the influence and power of prayer as a supreme resource. So please do that before you do anything else. With that, we'll make it fine.

"Keep falsehood and lies far from me; give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread. Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you and say, 'Who is the LORD ?' Or I may become poor and steal, and so dishonor the name of my God."
-Proverbs 30:8 & 9

Friday, August 10, 2007

It's All Starting to Take Shape

Well, we've both been seeking clarification of a mutual vision that has been forming in both of our hearts over the last 2 years. We are at the point where we think God is pointing us. That's why I haven't written much. We've been scouting and fact-finding. This is what we're pursuing at this juncture in our lives.

A few years ago we both began noticing that coffee shops were becoming a growing trend. Why would people pay $4.00 for a cup of coffee? We began to understand first hand after participating in the establishments ourselves. It wasn't just about a beverage. It was much more. People love to make a coffee shop a part of their day, whether hanging out with friends, or just passing through to grab a savory hot beverage. It's hard to feel like a stranger in such an intimate setting.

An idea started brewing. What if we could somehow use this type of relaxed environment to connect with unchurched people? We believe that a critical element of sharing the greatest message of all is being able to have uninhibited rapport. A large population of people will still never set foot in church no matter how hard we've tried to get them there with marketable consumeristic strategies. The coffee shop environment is ideal for connecting and potentially reaching many more people. We started kicking around the idea of a Christian coffee shop ministry with some Christian friends. But nothing materialized at that time.

We weren't discouraged, but continued to dream about and discuss the idea. Having read several cutting edge books that discussed current thoughts and trends on reaching cultures who have little interest in the church, our idea gained velocity. We decided it was time to do some serious research. This time we took a trip to North Carolina to survey some locations, study working coffee shops, and talk with a budding Christian coffee franchise developer. We also met with a small group of believers who were already ministering in a coffee house type of ministry (minus the coffee).

After lots of prayer and research, we feel God calling us to pull up roots and do something new and out of the box by starting a coffee shop ministry in Hickory, North Carolina working with this core group of believers. It's a risky venture, and involves selling our home with no sure promise of support or success. But we wanted to let our friends, family members and acquaintances know what were up to. We're developing a brochure that better explains our coffee shop ministry in more detail and how it will work.

Here's the data we will be putting in the brochure.

The Rudiments

People need and want community. They feel safe and comfortable in a small, coffee shop setting where they can sit and enjoy each other's company and a delectable drink. We believe this is an excellent environment for connecting with people who may never set foot in church and for sharing the Christian message with them. We also think we can fulfill the Great Commission of making disciples more effectively if we're making coffee at the same time. Our mission is to create an appealing, professional looking coffee shop where people will want to linger not only for a cup of coffee, but to learn, and latch on to the Christian message and its principles.

We will work in cooperation with a small coffee house ministry called Cup of Life associated with Living Hope Covenant Church in Hickory, North Carolina. This small body of believers has already been hosting innovative worship services and Christian concerts in a former restaurant facility. They plan to join forces with us, utilizing our establishment to continue to provide Christian music and a worship community along with other ministry opportunities such as small groups, benevolence outreach, prayer ministry and more.

The Beverage Business

We have researched a new and growing franchise called Moby's Coffee TM. Moby's mission is similar to ours, to provide professional quality coffee, drinks and pastries in an inviting environment with Christian music events on the side. Our plan is to open either a Moby's It will be a for profit business that will hopefully help us pay for necessities such as living space, food, gas, health care and other every day living expenses. franchise or a similar, independent coffee shop that is in or near Hickory.

The Ministry

In addition to offering worship and music gatherings, we envision other ministry too. Imagine an inviting place where people (including non believers) can turn in prayer requests or have someone listen to them and pray with them privately. Or a place that would be a hub for launching small communities of in-home study groups where people can learn about the Bible, grow in their faith and even find support from addictive and destructive behaviors. Imagine a coffee shop where the regulars could bring benevolence offerings of canned and dried goods or make a donation to a highlighted charity of the month, where people learn to care about people and in the process live out what it means to engage Christ's love by action?

How the Coffee Shop and Ministry Interface

As of this writing, we are still working out the details on how we will collaborate with Living Hope. Living Hope is willing to switch locations in the Hickory area, and may be able to help pay partial rent on the coffee shop or a small stipend to Jeff for his teaching ministry in exchange for sharing the coffee shop space. But they are too small to support a full-time pastor's salary. We have made the decision to invest the money we make from the proceeds of the sale of our California home in a Moby's Coffee franchise, the headquarters of which is based in Mount Airy, North Carolina. The proceeds from goods sold via the coffee shop business will help support us and the business itself will be set up as a for profit business.

One of Moby's stipulations is that the franchisee/owner must have regular Christian music events and worship gatherings. Living Hope plans to help with this as well as with small groups. In addition, we will work with this group to develop more methods of reaching and teaching people about Christ and multiplying more communities.

The Gap

We are stepping out in faith and what we discern as obedience. Our new ministry is a unique hybrid and somewhat unprecedented. It is essentially a church/ministry launch. After the sale of our home, we will have enough for most of the basic start up costs of the franchise, but not for the extra costs of a home, cost of living or for ministry expenses. Like missionaries, we need to raise support for the extras in order to commence on this innovative venture. Unlike missionaries, and more similar to church plants, we and the ministry will eventually become self-supporting. With a good start, the need for continued support will be devoted more to prayer and encouragement and less to financial resources. At this point, we believe that we will be self-supporting within 12 months.

After much and often intense prayer, as well as careful consideration, we feel compelled that God is giving us a strong green light but also stirring in us the need to share our vision and support opportunity with friends. So, here are specifics you can pray for or support.

Transportation. We will donate our 1998 mini van to our son, Jordan, who is still enrolled in DeVry University in Freemont,CA in order for him to have transportation. We will need a second vehicle once we relocate so that we can both work. Estimated cost of a used van or truck would be $5,000.

Moving expenses. We estimate the cost to move from Benicia, CA to Hickory, NC to be about $9,000.

Housing. We will most likely rent a dwelling place first and then look for a home to buy later. The estimated funds needed for housing for the first year is $15,000.

Health insurance. Neither the ministry nor the coffee shop provides health insurance so we ,and our one dependent, Jordan, will still need health insurance estimated at $300 a month.

Temporary income. While we are getting established, we will need income for groceries, gas and other expenses.

Here are several options for how you can help.

  • Pray for us and the needs expressed above.

  • Sign up for our email updates.

Contribute financially with either a one time gift of a 1-year pledge

We realize that the final product may look very different from what we have in our heads, but that is often the case when God unfolds his plans. We truly appreciate your prayers.