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The Soldiers' & Airmen's Scripture Readers Association

Drinking us Bankrupt

Serving coffee at the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo

Serving coffee at the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo. © SASRA 

For some reason, coffee seems to be highly effective in evangelistic endeavours. Half the population of the UK drink tea, but churches have coffee mornings and not tea mornings.

I think there’s something deeper than the actual drink—inviting someone to have a coffee and a chat has a specific feel to it. It’s the act of taking the time to sit together, without mobile phones or distractions, simply with a hot cup of steaming liquid in your preferred form.

Paul Curd with soldier at the Royal Military Edinburgh Tattoo

ASR Paul Curd praying with a soldier at the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo. © SASRA

Whether it’s a vanilla sugar-free oat milk chai latte, or a basic (and trusted) black americano, in a world of so many distractions and as it seems, less and less human interaction, being invited for a cup of coffee means a lot more than just the coffee.

As with everything, we must be careful not to lose sight of the purpose. Simply drinking coffee will not save souls. To quote David Doran Jr.:

Coffee is not evangelism. Proclaiming the gospel is evangelism… and you know the fight—you can be so patient that you never speak of Jesus.

Coffee mornings, coffee machines, coffee at an outreach event, all can be useful tools, but we must still share the good news of Christ Jesus. This is exactly what is happening at MOD Lyneham where a new coffee machine was gifted to the Chaplaincy Centre. 

ASR Tiaan de Klerk shared how it has been so successful that it’s ‘drinking us bankrupt’! So many soldiers are coming in for drinks that it provides countless opportunities for conversations that lead to relationships and gospel opportunities. 

Coffee is a way of meeting people where they are... it is proving to be an invaluable tool in drawing soldiers in.

I’m sitting in the Scripture Reader’s office, surrounded by books and just a couple metres away from the Chaplaincy kitchen where the coffee machine is housed. Right now, I can hear the grinding of coffee beans and the hissing pressure release of hot water. The rich, warming smell of coffee just about reaches my nostrils. I can hear the clink of coffee mugs being pulled from the dishwasher, the general conversation of soldiers, but above all of it I hear one particular conversation between ASR de Klerk and an individual soldier waiting for his coffee to finish pouring, or perhaps he has it in hand at this point.

Tiaan remembers his name and then asks him how his course is going before inviting him to the Faith or Fake course next month. Naturally through the conversation, he has progressed to sharing the reason Jesus came. 

That’s the fifth soldier in the past hour-and-a-half that he’s talked to.

Coffee is a way of meeting people where they are. There is common ground to be found in hot drinks and here at MOD Lyneham, it is proving to be an invaluable tool in drawing soldiers in. 

ASR Tiaan de Klerk at MOD Lyneham with soldiers and coffee

ASR Tiaan de Klerk at MOD Lyneham with soldiers and coffee. © SASRA

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