Right now I am sitting in a Starbucks in Columbus, Ohio. Earlier a group of teenagers came in who had attended the Dare 2 Share conference this weeked. I gave one of them a Venti Jesus book and a “dare” to share it with one of the baristas. The high school girl meekly handed the book to the barista and said something like, “I thought you might reading this. It is the story of some teenagers who had a spiritual conversation in a Starbucks.” The barista accepted the book.
When the teenagers left this barista began to tear into the audacity of this teenager. How dare she give her a book about Jesus! She literally opened the book and began to mockingly read random paragraphs.
What is surprising to me is the bitterness in her voice as she read the cover. Just the word “Jesus” set her off. The teenager who passed the book to her seemed humble and sweet enough, not one of those overzealous, winger wagging teens that need a dose of grace and ritalin.
Finally, after hearing this barista mock away for a few minutes I came up to the counter and said these words as gently as I could muster, “You know that book you’re mocking? I wrote it. You may want to read it with an open mind before you totally dismiss it.” She turned to me and went off on how she was raised in religion and didn’t want to have anything to do with it.
Meanwhile the barista who was standing next to her was scanning through it. He seemed interested in what it was saying. She was angry, burnt by her experience in church. I was standing there still trying to wake up from a long weekend.
Suffice it to say awkward moments abounded.
As I sit here sipping my bold coffee of the day I can’t help but be in awe at the catalytic nature of Jesus. Some are repelled by Him (barista #1) and some are compelled by Him (barista #2). I can’t help but be painfully aware at the power of the church both to build the kingdom and destroy it. Whatever congregation she was raised in was most likely one of those rule-driven, religious churches that majors on the externals and minors on love. These churches attack and don’t attract. When it comes to evangelism I believe these congregations do more harm than good.
Either way pray for these baristas. Pray that God does a work in their hearts. Pray that they pick up this little book and actually read it, or better yet, that they would pick up God’s book and read it. In its pages they will see that Christianity is not at all about a religion but a relationship with the God who loves them so much He sent His own Son to die for them.
Let us pray for wisdom as we enter a harvest field filled with “UnChristians” who may increasingly have a predisposition against Jesus because of the type of followers He seems to attract.