The question, “where is your church family home?” took me off guard when I moved to the South.
Up North where I’m from, we avoid topics of politics, religion, and money.
Thankfully, I am strong in my Catholic faith and felt comfortable answering the question and opening a conversation. It is my experience that Southerners spend a greater amount of time socializing with others from their church, more so than us Yankees. As a parent of high school-aged children on the cusp of college life I often wonder how my children would respond given the same probing question?
Recently my daughter shared some insight she gleaned from YouTube.
People from her generation go to Starbucks more often to feel a sense of home instead of just for coffee. After pondering her statement, it made sense to me. Each coffee shop is arranged similarly. The menu is consistent, the aroma comforting, and the patrons all speak the same Starbucks language. This store serves as a home away from home for students away at college. It provides a sense of family, community, and familiarity.
Though this is a great marketing feat; it gives me pause.
Are coffee shops and chain restaurants competing with our faith communities? Will my children seek comfort only in Starbucks when they leave for college? Realistically, the answer is no.
Before there was the universal church as we know it today, Jesus and His disciples walked among the sinners. Imagine if today we shared the Gospel freely with neighbors not just in church, but in everyday locations. On second thought, I may just encourage my children to go to Starbucks. Not just to drink coffee, but to bring comfort to others in a modern-day church family home.
For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them.