The Bridge Faith Community is an unusual church plant. Instead of pews, there are tables and chairs, and the scent of roasted coffee fills the room.
Sharing the gospel at The Bridge
There are no pews, stained glass windows, or organs at The Bridge Faith Community in St. Charles, Missouri. But neither is there any shortage of coffee and conversation.
The joint RCA and Evangelical Lutheran church plant doubles as a coffee house. The idea, says pastor Stephanie Doeschot, is “to meet people on their own turf.”
“[We wanted to] reach those who would not or do not seek out traditional churches,” Doeschot explains. “People love to gather around tables for food, drink, and conversation. A coffee house seemed like a friendly place to invite others to gather.”
Since the coffee house opened in 2008, it has fostered conversations about faith in subtle ways. There is a tips jar for missional causes. The tables have faith-based books on them. The Bridge mission statement, which comes from Micah 6:8, is displayed on the wall.
“It’s low-key, but over time, many significant relationships have developed,” she says. “People are now identifying as part of The Bridge Faith Community.”
Take Jim, for example. Jim owned a business near the coffee house’s original location, so he came in regularly for coffee, often socializing with the people who served him. As he got to know them, he started asking questions about the mission of the coffee house. Those questions led to serious conversations about faith. And when he got married, he and his fiancée asked Doeschot and her husband Phil, who is also a pastor, to perform the wedding.
“In the three years since that time, they have begun to attend worship regularly, we have baptized their son, and they are growing in their newly reawakened faith,” says Doeschot. Jim and his wife have since joined Christ’s Church (RCA), one of The Bridge’s parent churches, while continuing to participate in both communities.
Jim’s is just one of many stories of spiritual transformation The Bridge has helped facilitate. Besides gathering for services every Sunday, members of this faith community also get together throughout the week. In fact, The Bridge has been holding a Thursday night service for longer than it has had a Sunday service. It hosts special events during Lent and Advent as well.
The Bridge also continues to integrate other outreach methods into its ministry. In 2013 it opened The Bridge Fair Trade Market, which sells exclusively fair trade goods.
“We wanted to bless the artisans and farmers with the kind of biblical economic justice God calls for in the books of the prophets,” says Doeschot.
The fair trade market has widened The Bridge’s volunteer base. And some of the new volunteers come from different faith backgrounds.
“People of a variety of faiths or self-identified ‘nones’ who like what we do are helping out in various ways. We see this as an outreach arm that appeals to humanitarian desires to help others, while influencing with ‘the aroma of Christ.’”
The “aroma of Christ” certainly seems to be in the air at the coffee house. In February 2015, it moved locations to make room for its growing worship programs.
Coffee, Christ, and conversation, it turns out, is a powerful combination.