Coffeehouse offers nontraditional approach

Hey all, I was able to get a digital copy and the rights to repost the article that appeared in the Midland Daily News.  I have only taken the liberty to add links into a few places that were referenced.

Three of Dan Lacher’s passions in life are Christ, coffee and computers.
He’s found a way to combine the three at Journeys, a coffeehouse in the building that houses Messiah Lutheran Church.
Church leaders considered the addition of a coffeehouse for two to three years before Journeys opened. They contacted Third Place Consulting, which guides people interested in setting up coffeehouses in churches. Lacher and his wife had joined Messiah Lutheran in 2002.
“I was just going to be a member of the building committee. ‘I’ll pick colors,’ I thought,” said Lacher, who ended up leading the building committee and now volunteers as manager of Journeys. It’s what he calls an “extreme hobby.”
Lacher is a software engineer who can work from his laptop – which means, since Journeys is WiFi, he can work while at the coffeehouse.
Journeys opened in last February. It’s part of Messiah Lutheran’s latest building expansion. The church building – which was new in 2000, was 36,000 square feet. Almost 50,000 square feet was added, with Journeys in the front of the building, allowing people to access the drive-thru or walk in the coffeehouse door and never enter a church lobby or sanctuary. That was part of the plan, Lacher said.
“The goal of the coffeehouse is to offer a nontraditional church setting…for people who are anxious about being in a traditional church setting,” he said. “We don’t want a coffeehouse in a church. We want a coffeehouse.” People who stop by for coffee and are not threatened by the people or the atmosphere, may eventually ask questions about Messiah Lutheran or Christianity.
“It’s helping people get that one step closer to having that relationship with Jesus Christ,” Lacher said.
Journeys employ four part-time workers. Sixteen others are volunteers. A search is on now to replace a worker who is leaving for a full-time job. “We’re hiring people who already know Jesus Christ and are not afraid to show it,” Lacher said.
At the same time, no one who stops at Journeys will be subject to high-pressure Christian sales tactics.
“It’s just a cup of coffee. No tracts. No ‘Do you know Jesus?’ No ‘You’re going to find salvation that day,’” Lacher said. “We’re not out to convert people with every cup of coffee.”
But when the subject of God comes up as “inevitably it will…it becomes a natural part of the conversation,” Lacher said.
For instance, he said, if a customer has had a bad day, a barista may simply ask if he or she can pray for the person. That may lead to a longer conversation at another time.
Lacher said the addition of the coffeehouse also has created a space for church members to reconnect with each other.
“We knew it was going to happen. It was still amazing to see it happen,” he said. “People come early (before services) to hang out and people stay (after services) to hang out.”
Journeys is open every day: from 5:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 4 to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday; from 6 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 4 to 9 p.m. Saturday; and from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday.
Lacher said live music soon will be added to the coffeehouse a few nights a week. The music will be of any genre, not just what is traditionally thought of as Christian music.
Profits from the coffeehouse – beyond operating expenses – go to Messiah Lutheran Church.
By Sandra Sutton of the Midland Daily News

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