A First Class IdeaPosted: September 1, 2009
A parishioner recently shared an article with me about a parish in England that introduced a combination cafe and post office. It seems like an odd pairing but the “Holy Post Cafe” has evidently made the rural church into quite the meeting spot. You can purchase a scone as you wait on line for the “postmistress.” Or have a spot of tea as you lick your envelopes.
I’m all for things that get people into our church buildings — whether it’s to say a prayer, drink some Earl Grey, or mail a letter to France. Our buildings are a great communal asset; which is why it’s rare to find a church that doesn’t host an AA meeting. The trick is to blend the spiritual and the secular in an authentic way that honors the faith without demeaning it. A needed rural post office? Great. A reincarnation of Studio 54? Not so much.
I’ve always thought getting people non-parishioners to even step foot into a church building is a herculean feat. Churches can be intimidating and hold a tremendous amount of emotional baggage for folks. Breaking down that barrier is difficult. Coffee can help. So, evidently, can the need to send a package to your sister in Liverpool.
But once someone takes that first step and enters the sacred space of a welcoming (hopefully) church community, who knows what might happen? Who knows what God might plant into someone’s heart? But you have to have to fling open the doors, metaphorically and physically, to find out.
Of course the cafe/post office combination has my head swirling with other potential church ministries. Like a library/book burning facility: “You condemn it, we burn it.” Whatever brings ’em in I guess.