In my previous church one of the projects I initiated and really enjoyed was a ‘Philosophy Cafe’.
It was an attempt to create a public space where life’s big issues could be batted around without anyone pushing an agenda. It was quite sucessful in the hills suburbs with a core of 15 people regularly participating. The local cafe owner gave us space in a fairly exclusive cafe for free once a month on a Sunday night and a small group of us chose topics and facilitated discussion.
As much as I loved the debate and the interaction, the purpose was never to actually win arguments and convert people to my way of thinking – it was to meet people share our thoughts and hopefully catalyse some friendships that could develop outside of the meeting setting and more specifically in and around the cafe.
If I’m honest that didn’t really happen.
Why? Probably because I was too busy with all that a large church required to keep it afloat. My church said that I was free to ‘do evangelism’ and they really did intend for me to be free to spend large slabs of time with people in the community – but… someone still has to preach, someone still has to equip leaders and meet with them, someone still has to attend X number of meetings etc etc.
The all consuming nature of the ‘beast’ meant that good intentions towards evangelism often got lost in a plethora of things that were urgent and measurable.
This is one of the great freedoms of my new role. I am still required to think and lead, but there is much less of a beast (at this stage to maintain.
And you know what?
My time in the community has risen dramatically, and I am a happier person for it.
That said the nature of this community does not lend itself to a Philosophy Cafe – and i would be foolish to try and make it work here – it just wouldn’t fit the vibe of the place. A more indigenous gathering would be a ‘home brew club’!