In 2011, Kevin Scott went from pastoring a large church in California to church planting on the East Coast. As his family and core team prepared to move to Boston, they closely studied the story of the Samaritan woman at the well from John 4. Jesus met the woman on a normal day while she was visiting a place she’d been to many times. It wasn’t just a case of being in the right place at the right time—it took intentionality. The well was the natural gathering place of the community. If you wanted to see or talk to people, the well was the best place to be.
The Samaritan woman is one of the first missionaries we encounter in the New Testament. She is converted to following Christ and then urges those in her town to do the same. John 4:39 says, “many Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony.” The natural well of your community isn’t something to avoid but to embrace and leverage for the advancement of the gospel. Click To Tweet
Jesus waited for her to come to the well and simply started a conversation. He used this ordinary meeting place to his advantage. What’s the gathering place in your community? How do people spend their time, and how might you engage them in their context? Kevin and his team knew these questions would be the driving force of their vision and mission. With this in mind, they planted Church at the Well and established The Well Coffee House.
Church Planting and Coffee Houses
When considering Boston, Kevin learned that coffee shops were a popular gathering place for Bostonians. Their church seized this opportunity. Through prayer and hard work, they opened a coffee house that operates during the week and hosts their church on Sundays. This dual-purpose space is both a business and a church, and they support one another organically. The Well Coffee House is a nonprofit; their business is modeled to directly support Church at the Well.
People who work in the coffee shop are able to serve the community in a natural, accessible way. They’re located in a busy area of the city, so they’re highly visible and serve a broad range of people. One Sunday, a woman decided to check out their church after being invited during her visit to the coffee shop. She’d never attended a church service before and wasn’t sure what to expect. Shortly after her first visit, she came to know Jesus and gave her life to serving him. This woman had never set foot in a church before. She went looking for a good cup of coffee and ended up finding Jesus. Just like the Samaritan woman, she was met in her context on her terms, and was then invited to taste and see the goodness of God. This woman had never set foot in a church before. She went looking for a good cup of coffee and ended up finding Jesus. Click To Tweet
A coffee shop won’t work for every town, but the missional concept is one worth considering. Kevin said, “what we need to understand is that if cities are going to be reached, it’s going to be through building relationships and seeing the church actually become relevant to the people living there.” In church planting, it’s important to nurture the vision God has given you for your city. But as Kevin advises, the means by which that vision is accomplished should be held loosely. The natural well of your community isn’t something to avoid but to embrace and leverage for the advancement of the gospel.