So last month I tried my hand at our church's first ever coffee house. I remember when I was in school how much I loved attending and playing coffee houses on the weekends. I used to play at this one in Lakeland, FL that was super grassroots. It was all bad punk rock and sour patch straws, but it was fun! I would come in with my acoustic guitar and sing- our band was always the adults' favorite... probably because they could understand the lyrics and still had eardrums at the end of it all. Either way- it was a great experience for me at 15-16 years old to play in front of a crowd and share my music. While I was stationed at Keesler AFB I would play at Coffee Fusion Bubble Tea Cafe in Ocean Springs, MS. (which by the way, they put little balls of tapioca in the bottom of smoothies... that was something I never quite got over) It was always so fun to bring songs of life and hope into unsuspecting territory. My hope with this coffee house is to bring unsuspecting people into a life of hope.
My goal with the coffee house here at the church is to bring in quality music and to provide a fun, safe, and relaxed atmosphere for people to gather. It seems to blow people's minds that there isn't a target age group, but rather a target interest group. I love having a room where calculating the average age is impossible, because it is so diverse. The other to qualifiers that I have for the event is that it doesn't cost us money and that we are able to bless the artists' with at least some money. At least for the first go around, I feel like all of my objectives and goals were satisfied. It has been a couple weeks (Aug 30th) since the first round took place, and people are still talking about it... I consider that a good sign. Jason, the youth director, was kind enough to let me transform one of the youth rooms into our java venue for the evening. It was very obvious that the room needed a face lift before I felt good about inviting the public. After some consulting, it was determined that stripes would be a great look for the back wall, where there was presently half of a forest. Everyone assures me that it had great purpose and intent at one time, but to the "new kid" it was an eyesore. I was thrilled when I was given the go-ahead to "fix it up." We brought in the tables from the coffee shop and with some coffee beans, candles, and crayons the ambiance was there in no time. I'm bummed that I didn't think to snap any photos. I know that the band had some people there taking pictures, so I am going to try and get some of them. Speaking of the band, let me take a moment to plug these guys. They are RELO (pronounced like yellow) based out of Lakeland, FL. They are a group that I got to know through Inertia Sound Studio, where I record my music and also in college. They are students at Southeastern University, and I feel confident that they are going places. I have never been so encouraged and entertained in one evening. It was a blast! Coming up on September 20th is our next coffee house and Josh McKinney is coming from Clermont, FL to share his tunes with us. He is a worship leader and extremely talented musician with a heart for the Kingdom.
I am still trying to come up with a better name-o for this deal than "coffee house." I am leaning towards Origins Cafe. Thoughts? Opinions? Suggestions? The whole concept of that title is that we are all from the same origin, the same starting point and I believe that it is critical that the Church gets back to the origin of Jesus' mission. I think that creating a relaxed environment, without an agenda where people can interact and build relationships is central to the mission of Christ.
Anyhow, this is still in the building stages and we are learning as we go. It is looking like the next round is going to also have baked goods and real, refillable mugs. Stay tuned for more info and contact me if you are interested in playing.