On the Beautiful Pairing of Coffee and Campus

On the Beautiful Pairing of Coffee and Campus

It was February 14, 2004, and I was sitting across the table from the store manager of our local Starbucks in Westerville, Ohio. After about ten years as a youth pastor, I found myself with a craving. It wasn’t caffeine that I needed. Getting outside the traditional walls of the church and a comfortable ministry environment was the urge I could no longer resist.

With Bean for a last name and a tendency towards extroversion, getting hired as a barista proved to be quite an easy path forward.  For over a decade since then, I have been simultaneously developing as a coffee professional and as a pastor to college students. Coffee has continued to be a perfect pairing and context for ministry.

I quickly became the “coffee dude” at a Lutheran Campus Ministry House when I launched a new ministry at the University of Cincinnati in 2008. At the time, I had a friend who had been hired to lead that Lutheran campus ministry, and she invited me to share some space at the house as long as I brought my espresso machine. It turned out to be an ideal arrangement.

Since then, we have been training students to pull espresso shots and pour latte art while also venturing out onto the campus a few times each semester to minister to the caffeine and hospitality needs of sleep-deprived college students. Each time we set up and start pouring out some love in latte form, we meet a few more students and invite those interested to join us for community meals, Bible studies, mission trips, and other kinds of community building and campus ministry.

A few years ago, I shifted over to “The 86 Coffee Bar” on the other side of campus.  The 86 is a coffeehouse geared specifically toward students. We host live music on the weekends, board game nights during the week, free pancakes every Wednesday morning, and even salsa dancing on Tuesday nights.

We started a coffee roasting business (pneumacoffee.com) as a way to help subsidize the fundraising for campus ministry. This business utilizes about 30 student volunteers on a weekly basis to help run the cafe, pack and ship coffee, and serve the campus community.

College and university campuses provide a tremendous mission field and an opportunity to transform the world by transforming college students.

Under the umbrella of USA/Canada NYI, Campus Mission (thecampusmission.org) is an initiative within the Church of the Nazarene that is attempting to build networks and to resource individuals and churches in order to engage the mission of reaching college students.

Only about ten percent of Nazarene church youth are attending one of our Nazarene institutions of higher learning. For the ninety percent that find themselves at state universities or other schools, we must find creative ways to reach out. A coffeehouse ministry is one of those creative opportunities, and there are many more! 

Chris Bean is the campus ministry coordinator for the USA/Canada region of the Church of the Nazarene.  He currently ministers in Ohio on the campus of the University of Cincinnati. 

Churches that would like to develop an intentional ministry for a college or university campus nearby can contact us at thecampusmission.org.

Read more about the many varieties of ministry in God's kingdom in our January/February 2018 issue, "The Flavors of Christian Ministry."

Holiness Today, JF18