Church in a cafe – getting out of our sacred buildings and religious routines.

Cup of Coffee

I hope you’ve been following my series “Are circles better than rows” over the past few weeks, where I’ve invited guest bloggers to share about fresh ways of doing church in the 21st Century. We’ve heard about “seminary in a circle“, from Miguel Labrador in the Andes Mountain Cloud Forest Region of Ecuador. We’ve journeyed deeper in Christ through a “seminar in a circle” with writer and teacher Ray Hollenbach. We’ve visited an “Epic Fail Conference” with J.R. Briggs, who realised pastors need the chance to circle up and confess their failures to one another. And we’ve experienced an intentional, intergenerational missional community who do “church in a nursing home” with my friend Katherine Lockwood.

Today’s post comes from one of my very favourite bloggers, Thom Schultz, who has written a number of books, including “Why nobody learns much of anything at church” and “Why nobody wants to go to church anymore” with his wife Joani. I highly recommend you follow Thom’s blog, Holy Soup, which is full of thought-provoking, stimulating articles on how to do church differently. Thom started up an innovative ministry across the U.S. called “Lifetree Cafe” – I asked him to share a little about this fantastic approach which allows believers and unbelievers to meet together in circles…

In an effort to rebuild connections between culture and the church, we began the journey of creating a highly relational intersection point where people could come together—build relationships with each other—and grow in a relationship with Jesus. The result of years of planning, preparing and praying was a fresh, new ministry concept we call Lifetree Café.

Lifetree Café is a time and place where people gather to hear inspiring stories and engage in conversation on a different topic every week. It’s the proven ministry that reaches the unreached with the love of Christ in a fresh, new way. Lifetree Café is an hour-long, interactive experience that features real people’s real stories on film, guided conversation, biblical insights, and time to build relationships.

Lifetree Café tackles the topics people struggle with in everyday life. Participants are encouraged to share their own stories and listen to others. As a result, people don’t just hear what the Bible says about their lives—they discover the relevance of God’s Word and a friendship with Jesus. And week after week, they acknowledge they experience God at Lifetree.

Lifetree Café is a place that reminds you of a cozy coffeehouse. It may be located at your church or elsewhere in the community, such as in a café, on a college campus, or in a community center. Lifetree is designed to work in a variety of venues.

We began planting Lifetree Cafés around the country over four years ago and we now have hundreds of Lifetrees planted in communities of all sizes. Every week we hear amazing stories of how people are coming together and growing in their faith. These relational circles of people are finding that they’re not alone in their struggles and they’re learning from other people’s life experiences. They’re finding Lifetree Café to be a safe place where their thoughts are welcome—and their doubts are welcome.

While Lifetree Café is seen as being a highly effective and proven outreach ministry—we’re seeing it as an amazing “in-reach” ministry as well.

More information on Lifetree Cafe can be found at

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