Hi, my name is Brandon, I’m 27 years old, and I’m a struggling Christian. Sounds like I’m introducing myself to an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting, right? Except, I doubt that a Super Bowl stadium would be able to hold all of my fellow struggling Christians, even just in Washington. But more specifically, I’ve been struggling to find the right kind of church, one I can get passionate about. For one, I’m usually working Sunday mornings. More importantly, though, I haven’t felt like I’ve “clicked” with any of the churches around here. Not to pigeonhole any particular church, but my generation seems starved for some genuine connection with the modern church, and for one reason or another, they’ve been unable to find it. In my group of friends, who range from deeply churched to completely atheist, church can often be caricatured into a harsh punchline: a place where old people go because they know they’re about to die.
About three months ago, something strange happened: I began to be excited about church, as I got involved in the ground floor of a little church plant called Reliance Fellowship. For probably the first time in my life, I was able to share stories about church and what I was involved with that got my non-churched friends to say, “Cool.” It was Jesus who told us that it’s not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. It has always been a personal bone of mine to pick that the ones who need God’s grace the most, the sinners, don’t feel welcome in the church. It seems, sometimes, that the modern church has ceased to expect conversions and new members, instead focusing on the people who are already in God’s family. And while I won’t deny the need to spiritually feed those who are already saved, something seems to be missing from the picture. The desire of Reliance Fellowship’s leadership to reach out and change people’s hearts and minds through the power of Christ clicked with me more than any other church related activity ever has.
This past Sunday, on September 8, 2013, that desire came to fruition in the form of Reliance’s first official service in a quirkily appropriate yet still unexpected place: Barracuda Coffee Shop in Richland, Washington (otherwise known as my current employer). At 3:45 PM, free coffee was set out and a low-key, straightforward service began: three songs, a sermon, a short video about who Jesus was, and a closing song. A little over 20 people were in attendance, while outside on the porch childcare was provided for the little ones.
It’s difficult to pinpoint what exactly it is about a coffee shop that makes for such a cozy environment, but it was conducive to an encouraging and welcoming service. Over the course of the service, several people dropped by expecting to buy coffee, not realizing that Barracuda closes at 3. It was interesting observing their reactions as they took in the worship and/or sermon that was going on right before their eyes. I’m excited to see how God will work this to the church’s growth in the future as word spreads of the group of people who, for some strange reason, choose to worship God in a coffee shop.
Reliance Fellowship, God willing, will not forever continue to meet Sunday afternoons at Barracuda, but it was an encouraging beginning that felt like a family gathering together to pursue a common interest of worshipping their Lord and Savior and spreading that peace and love to a world who is dying to receive it. Without God, without Christ, and without prayer, we will not be able to give that love to them, so keep us in your prayers and ask God to continue to bless Reliance in the weeks ahead. I look forward to either seeing you there or pouring you a latte while on the clock at Barracuda. God bless and God speed.