14 Feb

Where Theology Meets Community

Part 3 of the journey to The Well…

The Well will be a place where theology meets community.  At any given time, a group of students or theologians or disciples might sit at a table inside The Well and discuss the mission of Jesus while seeing an opportunity to push away from the table and embody that mission.   There will be communal studies of Scripture with the goal being the embodiment of the theology being discussed.  What makes The Well unique is that, because it is literally a “gathering place” like where Jesus met the woman at a well,  theology can be put into practice in the moment as “real” people from the community come in and out of the doors looking for “living water.”

Let’s consider the implications of this for a moment.  You could be sitting in The Well discussing Jesus’ words about the poor and at any given moment have an opportunity to put those words into practice when a poor man walks in the door.  You might be discussing Jesus’ teachings about the inclusive nature of the kingdom and at any given moment have an opportunity to embrace the person who walks in the door who doesn’t look like you.  You might be sitting at a table discussing compassion when an opportunity walks in the door through the broken heart of one who has been rejected and abandoned.  These are just a few of the many ways that The Well will think locally about mission.  Much more will be said soon about the local mission.

The Well will also be focused globally as a training ground to develop models of addressing poverty.  Ways of bringing sustainability to poor communities will be explored. Social injustices will be challenged.  The Well will serve as a staging area to change the world.

The Well will be a non-profit who does “business” not only ethically but with a mission.  This mission will be to change the world through coffee.  This will happen through those we buy from, those we sell to, and those we seek to rescue from poverty and strife.  The Well will intentionally seek out poverty-stricken places and situations in the world and seek to bring “living water” there.  This will take place in many, many ways.  We will sponsor the building of wells for those needing clean drinking water.  We will seek to address communities in the world where people are dying of starvation.  We will partner with organizations to support poverty-stricken adults and children around the world.  We will seek to break the poverty cycle in poor communities.  The Well will encourage opportunities to sponsor children, to adopt children, and to “go into all of the world” to rescue them.

We will seek to be a missional community.  All who buy from The Well will be participating in the mission.  When you buy a cup of coffee at The Well you are investing in the mission.  You do so knowing that the price you paid for something, that you could have bought elsewhere, is actually going to make a difference in the world.  This is one of the distinguishing principles that will set The Well apart from others.  In short, The Well will exist to make money for the purpose of giving it away.   It is consumption with a purpose.  As the consumer consumes, he or she will be consumed in the mission.  Think about that one for a while.

The Well might be thought of as a modern day “Robin Hood” who seeks to “take” money from those who have it and give it to those who do not.  Coffee is the means through which this process will be facilitated.  It facilities the “taking” of money, but not in a deceptive way.  Large amounts of people have shown that they are willing to pay a premium for coffee.  The Well will take what is given in this premium and then give it away to the poor.  Customers will know that as they consume they are helping to feed, to clothe, to provide, and to facilitate the process of getting “living water” into the hands of those in the world who are holding an empty cup.

The money will be given with great purpose and intentionality.  Local and global communities in need will be carefully investigated and researched in a way that allows The Well to truly provide help.  This will not simply be sending a check.  The Well will be involved in a very intentional, hands-on process.  The consumer community will share this mission.  The Well will constantly show where a customer’s money is going and give consumers a chance to “go.”  A person will be given a chance to see how “this cup of coffee” is helping “this child” to eat today.  That seeing might be through the maps, pictures, videos, and letters we will display on the walls or it might be through an opportunity to go and see in person.

For some, the investment might be through the simple purchase of a cup of coffee.  For many, however, it will go beyond coffee.  The Well will be a hub for mission, a launching point to go into “all the world.”   For those who wish to go, The Well wants to send.   Some will seek to be the hands of Jesus feeding people in a poor village or a poor suburban neighborhood.  Others may be the feet of Jesus carrying water to a poverty stricken village or walking the streets of downtown Nashville.   Some of The Well’s consumers may become so consumed that they wish to go and live among the people The Well is supporting.   You get the point.  The Well wants to do more than send money.  We want, as a community, to be the body of Christ that goes into all the world.

The Well will certainly have enormous challenges and could only be successful through the work of the Holy Spirit.   Ongoing prayer, discipleship, discernment, and encouragement will be crucial to the mission.  The great adventure will always focus on participating in the Kingdom of God that is present through Jesus.  This mission will drink deeply from the wellspring of Jesus.  Out of the “overflow of the heart” the heart of The Well will speak and offer life-giving water.   “The Spirit and the bride say, ‘Come!’ And let him who hears say, ‘Come!’ Whoever is thirsty, let him come; and whoever wishes, let him take the free gift of the water of life” (Rev. 22:17).

12 Feb

Turning Coffee Into Water

The Well is a strategy to establish a missional coffeehouse in the Green Hills community.  For more on that, see my previous entry here.

Why the name?   The Well represents the mission of meeting people where they are just as Jesus did when he met the Samaritan woman at a well  in John 4.  The name also reflects a vision of being a place where the “living water” of Jesus is served.  The Well symbolizes the place of gathering in community.  It is a place where lives are shared.  It is a place where conversations are had.  It is ultimately a place where Jesus hangs out with “living water” in hand.

The Well coffeehouse will be a community.   We will facilitate community through creativity, service, and mission.  It will be a connecting place. It will be a place where people will hang out during any time of the day or simply stop by to pick up coffee or a snack.

Why a coffeehouse?

There are several reasons. The first has to do with a very large number.

$18 billion.  That how much we, in America, spend on – you guessed it…coffee.

Americans consume 400 million cups of coffee per DAY.

The National Coffee Association reports that 56% of adults living in the United States drank coffee EVERY day in 2006.

There are plenty of other things that Americans spend money on such as:

$65 billion on…jewelry.
$31 billion on…pets.
$13 billion on…cosmetic surgery.

But coffee is more than just a commodity. And quite honestly, we aren’t interested in going into the jewelry business or opening up a pet store.  And no, we don’t do cosmetic surgery.  So the second reason behind a coffeehouse?  To state the obvious….COFFEE.  It is a product that fosters community.  The Coffeehouse is the modern day gathering place.

In Jesus’ day, the well was a place where lives intersected.  Jesus met a woman there and he changed her life.  This is the same Jesus who took water and turned it into wine.

What if we could participate?  What if we could be the hands and feet of Jesus?  What if  we could bring about change?  What if we could offer living hope?  We can.  And we will.  One cup of coffee at a time.  How?  By participating with Jesus in turning coffee into “Living Water.”

We don’t have to search hard to find the people in our local community and globally who are in need.  65% of the poorest people in the world live in only seven countries:  India, China, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Pakistan and Ethiopia.

We want to take the money you spend on coffee and give that money to feeding and providing clean drinking water to the poorest people in the world.  This is about sharing “Living Water” in the name of Jesus.  Will we eliminate world poverty?  No.  But we WILL make a difference.  One cup of coffee and one individual at a time.

We will be a business that exists for one purpose.  Kingdom business.  As a non-profit we will exist for the sole purpose of giving money away in order to change the world.

Sure.  You could fill your cup down the road and help turn millionaires into billionaires.  Or you can fill your cup at The Well  and give people an opportunity to live today because you helped fill theirs.

Want to join the mission or learn more?  LIKE our Facebook page at: http://www.facebook.com/wellcoffeehouse  and join the journey.

11 Feb

Introducing…The Well

You may have recently heard some talk about “changing the world” and “coffee” flowing throughout my social media outlets.   I am extremely excited to be able to go public with news of a vision that is getting close to becoming a reality.

About 4 years ago I asked myself a difficult question.  What would it take to truly embody the presence of Christ IN the community and the world?  I passionately wrote about 15 pages of a dream to change the world through a missional coffeehouse.  The vision had been inspired by The Shaping of Things To Come, an incredible book I was reading at the time.  But I didn’t know how to do it.  All I knew was that the “how?” was God’s department.

Three years ago my good friend Brian Holaway and I collaborated our visions.  Together we dreamed to start a missional coffeehouse that would seek to take the money that people spend on coffee and give it away to the poorest, most oppressed people in the world.  It would be our way of trying to live out the many things in the Bible that God has to say about the poor and the oppressed.

This would not a be a typical non-profit because it would revolve around more than a business.  It would be about a shared community seeking together to change the world one person and one cup of coffee at a time.

After much work it became clear to us both that the timing just wasn’t right.  Neither of us had experience or expertise in the business field.  We also didn’t have the money it was going to take to get started.  We didn’t give up on the dream but, because we hit a wall with it, concluded that God would show us if and when it were to happen.

It appears that time is now.  With the tremendous leadership of my good friend Chris Soper, the vision is alive and thriving.  When I mentioned the vision to Chris a few months ago I could see it in his eyes.  He believed in it.  He had the passion.   And he had the business expertise and experience that Brian and I had been lacking.  Together, we invited 4 other friends, who we believed shared the same vision, into this dream.    Together we have formed an official Board, are establishing ourselves as a non-profit, and have refined the vision.  These men and dear brothers are:  Matt Yates, Steve Morrow, Charley Dillingham, and Walt Malone.  What a blessing it has been to serve alongside each of these men’s unique gifts.

We believe God is opening doors for the future of the vision.  Quite literally he has given us what we believe is an open door to a location.  This location appears to be ideal.  It is located on Richard Jones Drive just between Lipscomb University and the Green Hills Mall.

What will we call this vision?  Let me introduce you to…The Well.

The Well will be a place where people meet Jesus.  It will be a place of community.  It will also have a bold vision to change the world.

Our vision is to make money for the very purpose of giving it away.   For more on that and much, much more on what The Well is dreaming about, go to our official Facebook page:  www.facebook.com/wellcoffeehouse  and LIKE The Well.   We will be posting many updates and much more about the vision of The Well here and on our website which will be launching this week.

We do not yet have the money we need to open the doors but feel the timing is now.  We are stepping out on faith and praying for God to provide.

We hope we will be seeing you soon…at The Well.