we visited jacob and sheila isaacs ministry coffee house in bangalore. i first met jacob at the IASYM conference in january where he presented a paper. this is how they describe it
the Kerygma coffee house is a hangout for young people who want a break from the usual. the place is open through the week. s saturday evening special at 6pm attracts many youngsters to loads of fun, games, sketches and live music. interactive sessions are aimed at catering for their needs. this hangout boasts of an ambience that makes any newcomer feel at home. comfortable bean bags to sit on, an aquarium to soothe your senses, a dart board to shoot at, carroms, uno and scrabble and more are availables for those who want to simply chill out. you can buy a hot or cold beverage or make do with an occasional snack.
the coffee house was started in 1997 with a passion for sharing Jesus with students. but rather than run a ministry like the usual church programme (prayer songs message prayer) they wanted to make a creative approach to connect with urban young people that were outside the churches. jacob had read about the coffee house concept elsewhere. so they decided to try it and open up their home as a coffee house. the house had a big roof top terrace/veranda. they were inspired by the scripture story of the 5 loaves and 2 fish and felt God say to offer what they had and he would bless it. so they saved some money and inexpensively converted the veranda. several years on and they have done more work but initially it was a very simple space where young people could just come and be and build friendships and drink coffee. in urban areas there are lots of coffee houses so this sits well with the culture. jacob suggested that for young people pubs have replaced churches. the difference with their coffee house is that there is no pressure to move on once you have drunk your coffee. the other issue that motivated them was concern because of the rise in drinking in pub culture partly because of the new wealth the young people are gaining from working in call centres etc. jacob described this as 'facing the challenge of youth culture'.
it is clear to people that come that this is christian - but it is a gentle approach and christ is shared through the relationships. on Saturday evenings they run an evening which has a theme with lots of interactive groups and discussion and maybe artists performing. other things they do are to run coffee talk which are discussion evenings and interactive bible studies, coffee beanz which is a slick newspapar/zine they have distributed 10 000 of round bangalore. they run youth alpha (gets everywhere!) for people intrerested in finding out more about christianity. they have done a sex education programme for young people. they also run one off bigger events at say christmas with bands playing. and they have also started or helped others start other coffee houses round bangalore. they then run summer camps for the young people - three in total. jacob is self employed and works as a trainer and coach to earn money that helps fund the coffee house.
this is a growing ministry - jacob is a visionary forever expanding and dreaming new ideas and plans while sheila helps keep the focus on what needs to be done. we visited the first coffee house in a different area of the city. it was a blend of games, chat and a band playing. jacob is also developing a youth ministry training course. it was wonderful to actuially have a chance to see the coffee house and see the ministry in action. i was impressed with jacob then but having encountered a fairly anti-pop culture stance in many of the talks at the conference i was all the more impressed that he had managed to develop this creative urban ministry.