It’s summer time! As I write this we’ve been experiencing a heat wave, making us all throw open the windows, and dive for ice creams and cold drinks!
In biblical times you couldn’t turn on a tap to get water – most people had to go out to the local well to collect water for the day in stone jars – as still happens in many African countries today. Because of this, each village’s well became a natural meeting point – a place where people would come and be refreshed from the water there, but also socialise and chat with others from their village. It was a place that travellers would naturally come to on their way to different places, and so it was a place where news and ideas could be passed on by them, and news received, to be taken on to other villages.
We often read about characters from the Old Testament going to wells, meeting people there – usually the people God wanted them to meet. Some even found their future wives or husbands there! Jesus too met people at wells, notably the Samaritan woman from John Chapter 4, whose story of finding ‘life-giving’ water through her encounter with Jesus is part of the inspiration for our Church Vision of ‘Offering living water’.
I’ve recently been reading a book by Mark Batterson called ‘The Circle Maker’. It’s the story of a Church in the USA, which, through many years of faithful prayer, built a thriving ministry in a busy part of the city. Mark argues that the modern equivalent of the well of Biblical times is the coffee shop! It’s a place where people will naturally gather to be refreshed, and to socialise – to meet with others and hear and pass on news and ideas. So as well as finding space to meet on Sunday, their Church built a coffee bar which became a cornerstone of the Church’s ministry in that city.
This is the hope for our coffee lounge in the new ‘Gateway’, that it will become a place where local people can gather, be refreshed and socialise. A place where we may meet the people that God wants us to meet. A place where good news can be passed on. It’s only a part of the Gateway proposal, which we are hoping will be ready for Trustees to approve in September for the whole Church to see at the Autumn meeting. But our hope is that, like the Church in America, the coffee bar could be a big help to us in connecting with our local community and in ‘Offering Living Water’ to local people, as our vision says.