Cafés inside Los Angeles churches bring people to God with coffee.

A recent but spreading trend in the Los Angeles area has seen a number of churches opening high-end coffee shops within their premises. The move has come as a response from the church in an effort to encourage people to visit their local churches and strengthen the community through both interacting with each other as well as the church.

Refreshments being sold at church is not a new idea by any means, but the core of the effort here is to shift the focus, from the sale of refreshments that fulfill a basic need of food and drink, to being an effort worth undertaking with a degree of mindfulness; to take time to appreciate, and revel in, the food and drink that God so readily provides his people.

According to Pastor Isaac Mason, a coffee enthusiast and pastor at the Bel-Air Presbyterian Church, which now operates Parable Coffee Lab, previous efforts were driven mostly in the hope of profits. The new approach is positioned towards providing a great experience that will convince people to gather in these spaces and promote conversations about God and the gospel. Like other activities of the parish, all the proceeds gained from operating that café goes directly into covering its costs, with any left over being paid directly into the church's funds to help cover its operations and even expand the scope of their charity work and church programs in the local community.

Pastor Mason and his church are far from the only ones to wake up and smell the coffee when it comes to the need to try to proactively encourage those in the community to meet and interact with each other on a more regular basis. Similar cafés are springing up all over, with House Roots Lab, Holy Grounds at St. Monica Church, The Ignatius Café and Steeple House Coffee being just a few examples of premium quality cafés that are either operated by or closely affiliated to a Church or charitable organization. As Tom Kong, brand manager at House Roots Lab sees it, coffee shops have filled a role once occupied by houses of worship, with people coming to them to gather, work, draw inspiration and share their news or life experiences with others.

With the number of Americans that identify as Christian hitting all time lows along with a corresponding drop in Church attendance, this initiative has shown a lot of promise in a short time when it comes to convincing people to spend more time interacting with their community and consequentially taking the time to perhaps linger a little longer over their brews in order to hear and debate over topics like the nature of God and what faith means to different individuals.

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