We Respect You, So We'll Let You Pay


We’ve done some informal surveys and discovered that when people decide to go to church for the first time, or they decide to go to church again after years of not attending anywhere, they often do so with a fair amount of fear. They have not-so-fond memories, or they’ve heard stuff through pop media, and they enter our church—or any church—with a fair amount of hesitation, even fear.

  • How will I know where to go?
  • Will they ask for my money?
  • How will I know when to sit, stand, or kneel?
  • Will I be the only “normal” person there?

We want every person who decides to attend our church—especially those filled with fear and apprehension—to feel “at home," welcome and accepted. We want them to know we expected them; we’ve prepared for them.

Remember: we want our guests to feel “at home.” We want them to experience “familiar.” We want them to be able to drop guards and fears that keep them from experiencing the wonder of God’s love through the message of Jesus Christ. 

So, consider this: many of our guests—our focused audience—walk into Starbucks (or the coffee shop of their choice), order and pay for their own coffee/drink 3-7 times per week, or more. They know it. It’s familiar. They’ve “been here before.”

When a guest walks into our church they smell the aroma of coffee, they see a “Starbucks-esque” cafe... and they know exactly what to do. It’s easy, it’s familiar... they feel at home. The questions of “what to do when” are suspended for the moment. Once the edge is off there’s space for taking the place in, getting acclimated, even sharing a conversation.

It’s a crazy social phenomenon: when a guest—or anyone—gets a 12-ounce cup of anything in their hand, they’re more relaxed. They have something to do with their hands. Particularly, if others in that space are also enjoying a beverage, they feel “normal.” Six foot, three inch, burly men can hide behind a cup of coffee or a bottle of water!

Fears subside. Our guest is experiencing a social norm for themselves in our environment. There’s a sense that they’ve “been here before.”

Note this reality: our guests, your guests, have paid for their own coffee every time they're in a coffee shop. They expect to pay their own way. But is it right to charge guests for their beverage in churchworld?

Many churches don't. It's free. This isn't an indictment on churches who provide free coffee and pastries. But, please if you do - brew quality coffee, and please don't serve day-old, sale-priced danishes. It reflects poorly on Jesus and insults your people. 

Most growing churches discover that "free" was at one time an affordable offering. But as they've grown, they've learned that the hundreds and thousands of dollars spent on "free" isn't free. Everythying costs something. Someone always pays. 

At Granger we respect our guests enough to let them pay for their coffee (and their pop, and cookie, and sandwich). Why? Because to many people, free = cheap; especially from a church. Sadly, it's often true. Churches brew crappy coffee and give it away. We should do better than that. We think it's helpful to brew quality product and let our guests pay - like they do anywhere else

But, we're not "anywhere else," you insist.

True. But at Granger we don't provide a coffee option because our members, "insiders," need coffee.We provide a cafe experience for the sole benefit of creating an "I've been here before" familiar environment. We do so to put our guests at ease. We charge them so they never feel like they're getting a "hand-out" from "those church people."

By the way - a side benefit sees all proceeds above expenses going right back into ministry. Every person - including "insiders" - gets the privilege of resourcing ongoing service to the community through our ministry. 

Remember. We want to meet people right where they are.We want to create an experience where people feel accepted, welcomed and respected. We want people to drop their guard, relax their fears and be open to the message of God's grace.

"I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some." - Paul,  1 Corinthians 9:22 

article adapted from How to Wow Your Church Guests: 101 Ways to Make a Meaningful First Impression | Group Publishing, 2012