Coffee and Christian ministry

I like a cup of coffee: and that is actual coffee and not that instant stuff which is not worthy of the name.

I can’t help notice that there are some people who seem to be taking coffee to new levels. A few months ago, a friend brewed some coffee when Pauline and I were visiting in his house. With all the equipment deployed to produce the coffee, the floor of his living room looked like a chemistry experiment from school days.

Between hipster coffee shops, aeropresses and chemexes, you might be forgiven for thinking that someone had invented a new religion. And there are a lot of younger (cool) Christians who are in on the act.

On the other hand you could be sceptical. It’s just hot water and a few ground beans, after all. Oh, and the caffeine. But hold your scepticism – especially if you are involved in some kind of Christian ministry.

New research in The Journal of Christian Leadership Psychology is suggesting that there may be a link between the quality of coffee drunk by a moderate coffee drinker and certain measures of effectiveness in Christian ministry. The study is a bit complicated, but here is the gist of it:

  • There are 3 authors of the study (an American church historian, a Canadian pastor and an Icelandic behavioural psychologist).
  • The idea of the study came about when the historian uncovered some previously unknown correspondence of Charles Spurgeon in which Spurgeon write to a friend about coffee he had discovered in a street cafe while on holiday on the Mediterranean.
  • Spurgeon is, of course better know for his enjoyment of cigars, but it seems that he started to have special deliveries of coffee sent to him in London and in one of his letters he wrote to a friend about an increased sense of confidence after drinking some of this coffee.
  • The study set out to identify ways in which the properties of fine coffee might link with aspects of Christian ministry. A historical survey was carried out to explore links between coffee drinking and well known preachers such as John Wesley.
  • The team conducted a field study in which they selected 10 North American Baptist pastors. The pastors were required to respond to two pastoral case studies and prepare two sermons. One case study and one sermon were preceded by a freshly brewed medium sized mug of Kenyan Arabica coffee; for the second, they were required to go 48 hours without coffee (even instant coffee was excluded).
  • They were also required to write two sermons: one with coffee and one without.
  • The results were fascinating, demonstrating a statistically significant difference both in the ease and the quality of the response to the pastoral scenario and it was also clear that the coffee-fuelled sermons were also both exegetically more accurate and more compelling in terms of their communication.

You can access the study online here.

A similar study is planned for worship leaders.

So, church leaders – especially of my generation: perhaps there is something for you to learn from your hispter brothers and sisters. Get yourself an aeropress. In fact, given the undoubted benefits that will ensue, perhaps your church will invest in one for you.

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