Tuesday, September 8, 2009

First Church of Stone Creek?

Stone Creek Coffee is where Vicky and I work. We work AT Stone Creek Coffee not FOR Stone Creek Coffee. We were away from our corner table for eleven days while on vacation. Vicky and I got a Facebook message from one of the baristas while we were gone that Stone Creek just wasn’t the same without us. Then when I came in this morning there was a look of relief on one of the baristas’ face. Then another came in just to pick up some coffee and gave me a big hug from behind. When I was ordering my espressjito, because it was the last day it would be available, the baristas told me that while we were gone at least three people had asked where we were.

So I sat down and tweeted this:

@brewcitytimmy We are officially a fixture at Stone Creek Coffee Bay View. People asked the baristas about us when we were on vacation.

@brewcitytimmy Do people in the community that don't go to church miss your pastor when he is out of town?

I was intrigued that us sitting over in the corner was enough of a staple that people noticed we weren’t there. Then it lead me to wonder how many people who are in the community at large would notice if a pastor left town for a couple days? Are most pastors out in the community enough for anyone to notice that they are gone? I am a firm believer in presence. Even if we had offices I might only spend one or at most two days there a week. I would probably use it as a space for solitude. Keep it generic so anyone could use it.

But then my buddy busts out this reply to my tweet:

@bargeria @brewcitytimmy So, Stone Creek is your community? ; )

Granted I was trying to capture that previous paragraph in 140 characters so it lost something in translation. But what a statement! This sent my gears spinning. So I tweeted that back to him.

@brewcitytimmy@bargeria SCC my community? Spending 4 days a wk @ scc more church than Sun? Gears spinning. 2 soon after vacation for this thought pattern.

Is me sitting in Stone Creek Coffee at least four days a week more an expression of church than what we do when we gather together as Veritas Church on Sunday mornings?

Vicky and I have built community here. We know the baristas. Some definitely more than others. Some are quiet and don’t talk much with us. Then others we could chat with for hours.

There are other costumers we have gotten to know. I know Jim is a health nut and likes classic cars. Mike comes in to play World of warcraft and is a tattoo artist on the east side. Dee owns a bar and Bridget is moving in with her. There are many Daves. Heavy Metal Dave is only one of the many. Rob is a tall confident guy who owns a boat, is a house appraiser/inspector, and drinks tea. Steve gets a Boston latte and sits at the table over by the entrance. Stephanie works for a non profit trying to improve a neighborhood in Milwaukee. Dan the hair man runs a salon down the street and comes in to get four or five coffees at a time. His always have the most espresso shots. Those are some of the regulars.

Then there are all the occasional encounters. The independent film maker. Emily who thinks the downtown art museum is one of the most beautiful buildings ever conceived. I kept an eye on her computer while she took a phone call from her mom. Haley and Matt who were expecting their first child this past summer. Joe who crafts hair at a local salon (not the before mentioned Dan's salon). Two woman who were having coffee with a beautiful little girl in a stroller. There names are Gesa, Megan, and little Johanna. The moms with kids, hipsters with their own travel mug, the tattooed, and the three piece suits, the homeless, the police and the people who come in and have no idea what they are looking at when they look at the menu and end up ordering a Black Bear Soda.

Is this my community?

I know more about some people at Stone Creek than people in our church. I have had deeper conversations about prayer, Jesus, and faith with people here than I have with some at church. I have prayed with people at Stone Creek. I have prayed with people at church. I have cried as God moved in me at Stone Creek and Veritas. I am with people here more than I am with people from Veritas.

Am I more a part of the First Church of Stone Creek than Veritas Church?

I love being at both. I love the people at both. I pray for the people at both. I am probably a pastor for both. People are spiritually seeking at both.

What is community? What is Church? Where does God use me more? Would God rather have me at Stone Creek from 9-noon on a Sunday or at the Beulah Brinton Community Center doing Veritas? These are questions I don’t know if I necessarily have the answer to.


  1. "I know more about some people at Stone Creek than people in our church."

    Hmmm... Not sure what I think about that. Seems to me that the goal should be to know our churches so well, and to have developed true community within church that is so strong that outsiders want to be a part of it. That way, we have someplace into which to invite others. The SCC community then becomes an extension of the Veritas community - rather than a competition to it.

    I know that I would want my pastor to be a part of the greater community. But I want his first love, his primary community to be the community of believers.

    Jesus was in the world, hanging out with the scum of society. You know how it goes. But his primary community was the 12. Those he called out. Those who decided to invest their lives into his on more than just a social level. They were the church. And Jesus invited others to follow as well - to be a part of the church.

    I would hope that the church called Veritas is your first community - the one you really do life with - the one you are invested into and the one that is invested into you.

  2. I think there are some main contributors to community. First is presence. I can't be part of a community unless I am present. This could be an online community, physical community or social community. The second I think is time. The time you spend as part of a community deepens your connection to that community. The last factor I think is the idea at the center of the community. The idea can be that you live next to someone, devotion to a sports team, or you like Stone Creek Coffee.

    So yes Stone Creek is a community for me. The presence and time factor are large because I work here. But the primary hub of my involvement in the SCC community is free Wi f,i then good people, and good product. The wifi being probably the strongest factor. Although there are other free wifi joints the other two factors are greater at SCC than the others.

    WIth Veritas I don't spend as much time with those people as SCC people thus i have less presence with them but the central idea of being a movement of love centered in Jesus is much stronger than the idea of SCC.

    So if I can increase my presence and time with Veritas the community factor would definitely be stronger. So why then do we as church staff spend most of our time on a couple hours on Sunday instead of increasing the time and presence factors. The idea is there and strong.

    Vicky and I are trying to work on this.

  3. Big reason I'm becoming a fan of the lifechurch.tv network. Let somebody else do the work for the weekend and spend your time being present, pastoring, mentoring, building community that is infectious.

    The problem, in part, that we face is that community is built outside of office hours. Maybe you should do office hours in the evening at SCC and invite Veritas to join you there...

  4. One of the things we are throwing around is a teaching format similar to what we did at HCC in the round. It would probably free up hours and also create more community through interaction and discussion when we do officially gather.