Tag Archives: Facebook

Is the Coffee Hour Dead?

coffee hourIn 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).

Brain Hacking

brainA recent segment on 60 Minutes detailed the activities of “brain hacking” taking place among computer companies in the designs of their social media platforms and apps.

Programmers have developed algorithms that take advantage of the brain’s desires for pleasure, Responses to status updates from other users are often spaced out over a period of time to drive us to check our devices more. And “likes” are sometimes bunched up together so that our brains feel a greater sense of reward when they are revealed.

Beyond making me somewhat mad at Facebook and the like for playing with our minds like this, the story reminded me that there are many things that have a greater influence over our brains than we realize.

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Little Free Pantry

pantry

Jennifer McClard stands next to a Little Free Pantry.

An article in the November 2016 issue of Living Lutheran magazine described the growing popularity of the Little Free Pantry, a grassroots program that was begun by Jessica McClard, a member of Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Fayetteville, Ark. She took the idea of a concept that already was present in the marketplace, Little Free Libraries, and made it her own. She saw the need in her community for staple foods to be provided for the poor and needy and built a mini-pantry in her neighborhood and posted it on Facebook.

The idea caught on, and now there are Little Free Pantries popping up in neighborhoods all over the nation filled with boxes of cereal, canned good, peanut butter, crackers, toothpaste and toothbrushes. Check it out at Facebook.com/littlefreepantry.

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Virtual Witness

worldwide webWhen Jesus said to this disciples in the Great Commission: “Go ye into all the world and preach the Gospel to all nations,” little did he know that 2000 years later that would include something called the worldwide web and that the ways we would speak to one another would be through tweets and texts, posts and blogs.

Along with the advances in communication technology, there has been an explosion of ways to witness to others about the Gospel and about our life of faith.

People know more about our day-to-day activities than they ever did 20 years ago because of Facebook and other social media outlets, and that has created more opportunities to voluntarily display what living the Christian life in the world today looks like. And, unfortunately, it can also reveal our sinful nature and the ways in which we have not lived as in line with our calling as Christ’s disciples as we should. Most often these “less than Christian” activities include angry rants and images that often degrade others or ourselves.

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