Coffee Shop Versus Pint Fellowship (A Pros and Cons Debate), Or You Be The Judge

As mentioned last week, I just bought my first home. Moving coupled with not having internet for a few days kept me away from responding to comments, my apologies for that. I’ve spent the last few days shuffling boxes around, unpacking, putting together furniture and doing whatever else it takes to put together a home – and I’m beat. So this is a non-traditional fun post in the style of the Stuff Christians Like blog.

Coffee shops without Christians – that’s a recipe for economic collapse. Ever since Starbucks exploded across the country Christians have used them, among other coffee shops for Bible studies, planning meetings and one-on-one fellowship . Most pastors have a budget for meeting with parishioners at coffee shops – some have meetings multiple times a day.

Though as Christianity has escaped from under the regime of fundamentalism, a new place for meeting with fellow Christians has emerged – the local pub for a pint. Both have distinct pros and cons, and we shall compare them to see which is the better choice for getting to know a fellow brother or sister, or merely deepening the relationship you already have with a brethren.

The Pub:

  • time limited: won’t set up morning meetings lest the rumor mill start up. However the pub may have the advantage as people work 9 to 5’s may not be able to meet for coffee, but they have evenings free for a pint.

    Who says don't discuss religion or politics at the table?!

  • privacy: louder music can mask what you’re saying, allowing for more intimate details to be shared. (Possible disadvantage: overcompensating for the noise and shouting sensitive information to the whole bar).
  • Exclusion: potentially limit who you can meet with to non-alcoholics. Remember the church isn’t a gallery of saints but a hospital for sinners.
  • Lowered inhibitions from alcohol can mean more opening up and digging deep. You can talk more freely and share what’s really going on. Combine this with privacy/noise level (and dimmer lighting than coffee shops) and you can get very vulnerable.
  • Judgment. In the church I grew up in bars or pubs were viewed as dens of vices, debauchery and sin. That stigma still lives on in certain circles, and if you mention you met so-and-so out for a pint they may judge you, embellish your drinking habits and spread rumors. You may no longer be able to play the recorder with the worship band.

The coffee shop:

  • equally as time limited, just to the mornings, maybe early afternoons. You don’t want to be be shaking your leg uncontrollably in bed trying to sleep with the caffeine jitters.
  • less privacy: lots of people quietly on laptops can overhear your confession to your accountability partner, and can also instantly re-tweet it.

    Starbucks can never take a position against Christians, as they'll lose half their customers and 80% of their part-time employees (who are also in seminary)

  • Though most people consume caffeine of some kind (as opposed to alcohol) – coffee shops are often seen as snob-ish. You don’t want to be a snob.
  • Stimulant effects of caffeine put you on edge and increase nervousness & anxiety. Foot tapping so much that you don’t get beyond the surface level in conversation.  Also feel the need to get up and move because of the adrenaline pulsating through your body.
  • No judgment. Though Christians are typically very anti-drug, they are enormous consumers of coffee – which is undeniably a drug. If you say you need four cups of coffee to get through a day no one raises an eyebrow.

Hard to say which is superior. Both can be equally as expensive, which to me speaks ill of coffee shops ($4 for a mocha?! How does that even make sense?), though in my experience someone is more likely to buy a beer than a coffee, so if someone asks you to go out to the pub it may be free.

Also, in my professional opinion as a licensed drug and alcohol counselor, I think beer is a healthier option than coffee. Alcohol in small doses helps your gastric juices perform more effeciently, and generally in micro-brews higher quality natural ingredients are used (that even have anti-oxidants in them. Coffee however is sprayed heavily with pesticides (unless organic) and is often coupled with lots of sugar. However going to pub quickly becomes the worse option health-wise if you opt for food with your drink, as there ain’t nuthin’ healthy about pub food.

Oddly enough I think my pros and cons list favors fellowshipping in pubs. The intimacy and privacy can lead to great talks and intimacy. The fact it limits who you can meet there is a huge con, but I still lean toward meeting for a brew. Maybe, if you want to be an expert Christian you can meet with someone in the morning and get all hyped up caffeine and then at the end of the day meet for a pint to help lower your blood pressure and heart rate – the perfect speedball combination.

What do you think – which is the better place to fellowship?

(A note to any reader who may have struggled with alcohol abuse: This post is intended just to be playful, and I hope it does not offend you. Please don’t hesitate to contact me if it does.

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17 Responses to Coffee Shop Versus Pint Fellowship (A Pros and Cons Debate), Or You Be The Judge

  1. Offend? Goodness, no.

    I don’t drink alkiehawl, and I hope my kids don’t, and I would encourage people to not. I had such a discussion with my teenage Sunday School class, well, on Sunday.

    But I envy, strongly, the camraderie that happens around beer. Those who don’t drink are, basically, excluded, and there’s no way around it. It’s difficult to explain how it feels to sit at a table of three or four who are starting to talk a little more than they usually would and not feel the “vibe” to do so yourself. The only way to tolerate a drinker is to drink yourself. Otherwise, it’s embarrassing and rarely much fun. Trust me, I know.

    So, what to do. How to form friendships that are as open, honest, and genuine as a bunch of guys with a bottle o’ Bud?

  2. You make it really hard charlie for a guy who neither drinks beer or any alkiehawl (as Bernard calls it) nor does he drink coffee (thus I have been in one Starbucks in my life and that was to get a gift card for someone). I don’t see them having Diet Dr. Pepper clubs anywhere. Bicycle clubs tend to ride and not sit. how about Chinese clubs or pizza clubs? They work but it does crowded in those places. Have fun moving, unpacking, putting together, repacking, putting away, living out of boxes for a few weeks/months/years. And always remember it was “your” idea to get a house. 🙂

  3. David says:

    I think wherever 2 or 3 come together in His name, it’s good enough for me. The truth is it is probably more likely in a pub.

    I don’t drink alcoholic beverages, and don’t intend to – but I value my 30+ years of sobriety, it is a gift from God. The only issues that I have with alcohol is that it is a temptation for some, and we need to be careful not to cause others to stumble. If you don’t get drunk (buzzed, whatever) have all you want, drinking is not a sin, but drunkenness is.

    I drink coffee, but I don’t care for 5 Bucks. Actually, the last time I as there a customer was going to town on the barista. I polity said, “Ma’am, why don’t don’t you kindly just shut up, she doing the best she can!” The barista gave us free coffees and scones.

    Where I live, people don’t want to get to know others folks, they’re just too busy. Can’t wait to retire to a place where they have friendly people.

    • the biggest drawback in my non-serious debate is the temptation alcohol has over people – a deadly serious drawback. I wrote this post with you in mind, as you’ve declared your sobriety here before. And I love you called it 5 Bucks, haven’t heard that one.

      • David says:

        Thanks for thinking of me. The truth is, I can be around social drinkers. I don’t make a regular diet of it, but guys drank beer on the men’s retreat. No one got drunk, and it was a fun time. I used to walk a few miles with the pastor while we had a coffee, that was a fun time – and we didn’t have 5 feet of snow on the ground.

        Well, you can’t get out one around here for less than 5 Bucks!

  4. Jeff says:

    I don’t believe what you drink matters near as much as what you think. I prefer W L Wellers wheated Bourbon with my best thinking friends.

  5. Larry Hughes says:

    Bars, coffee shops, malt shops, or what ever. Been through all of them over the years.

    I can recall when I was with a major corporation at the yearly regional office manager’s seminars where the free booze flowed like a raging river. Every one would really soak up the stuff but I always frequently got non caffenated pop or plain water. This caught the eye of the Vice President one year and he was curious why I drank so much and it seemed not to affect me. I alerted him what I drink was water or pop only. With that his reply was “for $5.00 a pop at the bar I had better start adding a little booze with it to justify the cost”.

    Granted booze does allow a person to loosen up, I don’t think that is the way to go. Sipping coffee at the latest designer java shop can have it draw backs too. Just plain water is the best way to go if you get the drift on that statement.

    However, this leaves a limited way on sharing fellowship or having get togethers I would imagine in most cases.

    What I found that works for me: Sitting on the beach reading a good Christian book while waiting for the perfect sunset picture to take. Others appraoching me at work or in a neighborhood asking how they can achieve the peace of mind I possess ( Man, if they only knew the truth when no one is around.) Word of mouth about my actions in my walk with Jesus. Showing interest in others. Always being available if someone needs help or just to talk.

    These are the places I have found people to be more open for converstaion and friendlier rather than in a church,, study groups, bars, or coffee houses. It is amazing the people I have run into seeking answers and salvation by the ways I have mentioned.

  6. Angela says:

    I think either location is appropriate. I enjoy both! I do think though that if you need to be sensitive if a person struggles with alcohol that meeting a pub might not be the best place for them. OR if they proceed to get pretty tipsy during your conversations…then it may be best to stick w/a decaf latte.

  7. jay @ bethegospel says:

    I’d say coffee shop because it is open all day long and I’ve honestly never even been in more than 1 bar. Go ahead and commence the laughing!!

  8. Chris says:

    What do you think – which is the better place to fellowship?

    You are joking, right?

    How can I now go back to my local coffee shop to meet up with someone for a discussion without feeling like I’m some kind of caricature of a Christian 😉

    The next move for self-conscious Christians will be to find the most untypical places to meet so as to avoid the “stuff-Christians-like” list.

    • How ’bout at the airport (nope, that’s the domain of the Hare Krishna’s)?
    • What about on condo roof-tops. Plenty of privacy there.
    • Or maybe the science museum (That won’t work. Too much conflicting evolutionary stimulus around)
    • I know—-the mall. You can walk/run alongside all the blue-hairs doing laps. You can evangelize and stay fit all at the same time.

    • you get judged at the mall for being a materialist – almost as worst as a drunkard.

      Hmmm – you could meet in the local park, though you may get named a New-agey kind of Christian. Man anywhere you go a Christian can stretch something to find you at fault!

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