Carrubbers Café was opened in the 1990s as a bold new vision for opening our doors and connecting with the city centre community (residents, tourists, business people) around us. This was a cutting edge ministry at a time when café culture was beginning to emerge in the UK. It was staffed primarily through volunteers, with interests and skills in baking and hospitality.
Over the last 5 years the Café ministry has faced a series of new challenges:
- Experienced baking staff have moved on and proved hard to replace with experienced catering staff who also possess a heart for ministry
- Recruitment of volunteers (especially students) has become more challenging with the introduction of tuition fees and a corresponding rise in pressure upon students
- Ongoing food price increases since the Credit Crunch
- Raising of the minimum (living) wage, especially hits our operational costs when we have had to employ staff in place of volunteers
- Loss of regular customers and significant rise in local “competition,” as more coffee shops open and café culture moves in a more artisan, specialist direction
Overall, this means that the operational costs of the ministry have grown, while at the same time we are seeing less gospel impact on the customers and community.
With our manager and assistant manager moving on in Autumn 2018, it seems prudent stewardship to begin winding up the operation of the Café. Now we have a God-given, strategic opportunity to begin dreaming afresh for new missional opportunities which repurpose that space and reinvest those funds for the sake of seeing lives transformed by the good news of Jesus and making a difference for the sake of His kingdom.
We want to celebrate the long ministry of the Café that will be coming to an end, after it closes its doors in December 2018. However, we are determined to see those doors reopened – although we do not yet see what God has for us. We need to begin dreaming and asking God: what is the greatest thing we could do with this space to make a significant impact on the city for your glory?
In answering that question there is a missiological point to consider: In a post-Christian, secular society, we need to move beyond a ‘Christendom’ mindset: where think if we have ‘the right product marketed in the right way’ that people will come to us. This “attractional” model has limited value today outside of the context of meaningful relationships between Christians and their family/friends/colleagues/neighbours, etc. – where the Christian invites and brings them along to “come and see”. Instead, the “missional” model emphases that we need to be actively seeking to build bridges and have our hands and feet on the ground, imbedded into the life and rhythms of the community. It tells us that we need to find ways to “care and serve” the local community, to meet people at their point of need and thereafter build intentional relationships for the gospel. That might make us consider partnership with other Christian organisations who have expertise and could use the café space as a base and launching pad for new missional endeavours.
We want to invite the congregation to start praying and dreaming with us. We wish to hear what the Spirit is saying to the church, as He catches us up into the mission of God in this city and answers this question: Given THIS space and THESE funds – what could we do with God’s help to make a significant impact on the city centre community? To this end we plan to lay these things before the Lord in the prayer meeting on 30th October