Fear Of Whales

Tales of a reluctant minister

Coffeehouse? Try Ice House!

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Every church wants to create “community” which I take to mean they intend for parishioners to interact with one another and make friends rather than just watch the show. That’s a good endeavor I think, but it needs more brainstorming because our classic go-to is the coffeehouse. Put some tables in an alcove, an espresso machine, decorate like Starbucks BAM, Community! Right?

WRONG! Coffeeshops are not the centers of community that we like to pretend they are, I know this, because I am in a Starbucks right now writing this, and I have not talked to a single person aside from the barista. I can’t make friends here! I would like to, I can’t. It is not socially acceptable. You don’t talk to people at steakhouses do you? Why do we think we do at coffeehouses?

Bars have the same ridiculous image, although they are less popular as an archetype in church planning. Who in the world actually meets people in a bar? You might go to a bar with friends, you might see friends you already know at the bar, but you do not approach people you do not know at bars and have lively conversations unless you live in a movie. The music is too loud1.

tumblr_m1xiojWglC1rnw5qjo1_500What we need actually is something more like the Viking great hall. A big dirty building where everybody comes to get warm by the huge fire and eat a feast after the battle. A Place of gathering and camaraderie where people mingle and meet.

”That’s unfair” You will say to me. Nothing like that has existed for a thousand years. Well, If it was easy everyone would do it. The best modern equivalent I can think of would be the Jacuzzi.

westalabama0731onethumb-Years ago in the southern states there was a model I rather like. It was called the Ice House. Modern Ice Houses are bars with all the social boundaries associated with that, but back in the old days before refrigeration Ice houses actually sold ice as a main product. They got a huge amount of it from up north during the winter, and kept it there all year selling it in blocks to people who needed it. They also sold groceries and beer, because the ice would keep it cool and fresh.

Since close proximity to the huge block of ice made the patio around the ice house one of the most confortable places in Texas before AC Ice Houses became centers of community where people would come, literally, to chill.

I would love to see a church embrace this kind of “open all the time” and “comfortable place to relax” model in their planning. And if not a church, someone should. Society is missing these opportunities to meet, and it’s pretending to find them here at Starbucks!


1: Maybe you would like to insist that your experience in bars is different, but I submit to you that you only think it’s different because you were drunk. Anytime anyone has tried to take me to a chill, meet new friends kind of bar, it turned out to be a loud awkward experience and no new friends were met. I’ve done this over and over. You are in denial.

Written by RyanGaffney

September 23, 2015 at 4:40 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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