Coffee with a side of Division

Brian Harrell   -  


And then there was that church that almost split over coffee.

Coffee? Yes, coffee. To create a more welcoming atmosphere, Trinity Church put a table in the lobby with coffee. It raised the hackles among the chosen few who started an old-school whisper campaign about the slippery slope of having coffee in church. Coffee might lead to alcohol. Alcohol could lead to dancing. Dancing may lead to LED lights in the sanctuary.

Someone needed to take a stand on the coffee stand. Someone did, and it nearly tore apart the church. It did tear apart relationships. The church was never the same.

It was about coffee. Or was it the carpet? Or the new paint? Or possibly it was the sign? Maybe it was the introduction of a guitar in worship.

Was it really about coffee?

Maybe it was really about nostalgia, a longing for the old days when everything was better. Or, maybe, the issue was about change. When change is happening, people can feel left out or left behind. Perhaps we can’t control change, but we can control whether or not we have coffee! Possibly the issue was about permission; “nobody asked our permission to have coffee in the lobby!”

I believe we should ask ourselves this; is coffee in the lobby really a hill that we should die on or divide over? The correct answer would be…NO, not ever!

The apostle Paul relentlessly addressed the potential of division in the church. He urged the Philippians to stand in one spirit with one mind and strive side-by-side for the gospel. He also told them never to do anything from selfish ambition but in humility to count others is better than themselves (Philippians 1:27, 2:2). He also introduced people to the concept of stumbling, that we should never cause someone else to stumble by what we eat or drink (Romans 14:20). And who could ever forget about the love chapter? Paul urged for the kind of relationships that would “knit” people together.

Paul teaches an age-old concept; that division is easy, but unity is hard. Division happens when we prefer our ways and put ourselves out front and thereby devalue others. Unity prevails when we humbly watch out for others, put ourselves second, and try hard to value other people who are not like us. This concept has always been a challenge in the church and life.

The church is about Jesus and people – people who need Jesus and people who need to grow in Jesus. It is also about the kind of relationships that have to be formed in order for these things to happen. So, what would the strategy of Satan be to stop this?

  • Coffee.
  • Music.
  • Carpet.
  • Division.

Don’t be a part of that strategy.