In a recent conversation with my cousin, she was telling me about the elaborate coffee hours they have at her church with cakes, punch, finger sandwiches, cheese trays, fruit salads, doughnuts and the like. My brother’s church has something similar between worship services at his church, and it got me to thinking that I don’t hear much about the coffee hour anymore in church.
I have a feeling that my cousin’s and brother’s churches may be the exception rather than the rule. And I wonder why that is.
Perhaps 20 or 30 years ago the coffee hour after church was something to be expected, a time to just sit and chat with fellow members over coffee and snacks about your week or about the service or about upcoming events in your life. It was am established time to gather as the family of God.
But ever so slowly and ever so slightly, the established practice of a coffee hour has dwindled away. Perhaps that is why for a time several years there was a surge in “coffee house” church in which worship took place in an actual coffee house or churches set up coffee houses inside their walls for people to gather to worship and drink coffee at the same time.
The reality, unfortunately, in our culture today is that Sunday mornings are prime real estate for a myriad of activities and events, including church. In families I have talked to, church attendance remains very important and the hour of worship is very established in their schedule, but what time may once have been set aside for the coffee hour is now eaten up by sports practices, school events, dinners with relatives, work schedules and the like.
My fear in all this is that fellowship loses out. Without an established coffee hour in church anymore, when can the brothers and sisters in Christ gather for fellowship with one another?
The answer lies in many arenas, but one way that fellowship happens is through small group ministry, where people gather in members’ home for coffee and Christian conversation. Another way I heard of recently at a conference is through what essentially could be called a “flash mob” coffee hour at a neighborhood eatery. Taking place especially among young Christians, a message is sent out through Facebook or Instagram to meet at a certain location a day or so later to chat about a topic important to the Christian community. Since people are so often looking at their phones, this practice has been incredibly effective.
So is the coffee hour dead? Not really, I say. It just looks and feels a lot different these days. As long as fellowship is happening, I am OK with any form it takes. As the Bible says, “How good and pleasant it is for God’s people to dwell together in unity” (Psalm 133:1).