Cappuccino at Olympia (Or: What the church should look like).

Recently, I have had the privilege of drinking a cappuccino at Olympia Café in Kalk Bay.  It was one of the greatest experiences I’ve had this year (I kid you not).  It was also an event that set my brain a-thinking.  You see, Olympia Café is the most dilapidated coffee shop that I have seen in my life.  In fact, the inside of the building reminded me of shutdown work I did at Iscor in Vereeniging (a humbling experience, indeed).  Paint was practically peeling off the wall, there were stains of undetermined origin almost everywhere, and the shop was painted in dull colours (wherever I could see colour).  The seating arrangement was interesting in its own way – none of the chairs matched, tableclothes were definitely out of fashion and I didn’t have the least worries about scratching anything, as the tables had clearly seen some vandalism before.  Furthermore, I had to squeeze into a very uncomfortable space whilst praying that the rickety chair would hold my weight. 

It was the best cappuccino of my life.

In fact, I had a second one.  And two pastries.

What was I doing in this place?  I certainly would not have come if I had not been brought here by a friend.  Someone who knew the place (and knew the Cape).  I would have missed out, big time. 

Afterwards, I had lots of time to contemplate what had just happened, as I had the extremely good fortune to travel to our next destination in our tour guide’s Nissan 1400 bakkie.  Mainly, I wondered about two things:

1.  Wouldn’t the church benefit by realising that people go to places firstly because people invite them to, not only because the place looks nice?  No matter how much we spend on facelifting our churches, the heart of the matter would still be the way people are received by other people.

2.  Wouldn’t the church benefit by realising that it is not what the church looks like, how technology driven a church is, or any other gimmicks one can think of, but rather the product that is served by the church that gives meaning to people’s lives?

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7 Kommentaar op “Cappuccino at Olympia (Or: What the church should look like).”

  1. cobus Says:

    May I add a third question to your two.

    3) Wouldn’t a church like this much deeper remind us what we are called to do, who we are called to serve. Not the fancy first worlders who will never attend a place if it’s not picture perfect, but the common man, even the one who feel uncomfortable to attend a church with the best in technology, and a building much more fancy than the one in which he is working, or even more fancy than the place which he/she can afford to have their december holidays?


  2. […] I’m not feeling like blogging today, so I’ll just add a few comments to something a friend has written, so go read this if you are willing to totally rethink what you are doing in […]

  3. gareth b Says:

    and boy is it good coffee!!

    Nice thoughts ronald. good to see other tokelokke (sp?) rethinking ecclesiology. It is desperately needed in SA – it seems that most dominees are letting mega-church Americans inform them on how to ‘be church’ here. What a pity. Is this because they haven’t been taught how to contextualise/adapt? Or are they just too tired and busy and looking for a ‘programme that will grow the church’? Obviously, the bigger your church is, the better a pastor you are, isn’t that right? 😉 So the USA people are the ones to follow then?

    Maybe we should rather ask local community leaders and coffee shop owners what makes people belong and return.

    Let me know when you are down here again and we can have our Olympia fix. (We could even interview the owners) 😉

  4. Yolande Steenkamp Says:

    Thanks Ronald

    I loved reading your thoughts, because it reminded me of how God is present in all our experiences. Even those moments that we label ‘insignificant,’ or worse, are completely ignorant of, are potentially bursting with the Word of God.

    I then thought of something else. I think the church would do well to remember that it has no copyright on God. People might feel drawn to church if they feel that they have something to contribute, in that their experiences with God are valued and respected. A ‘we serve, we learn’ approach rather than a ‘we know, you learn.’

    Greetings from the University of Zululand
    Yolande Steenkamp

  5. tiaan Says:

    Yeah…church. I just want to be part of something that creates an experience, like good coffee! I want to be part of something that creates a wonderful aroma, that lures you in from outside. I don’t want to do the whole fancy-shmancy big church with everyone and everything, how nice it may be.

    But people nowadays are like coffee drinkers: they come in, take their cup and drink up…and leave. But if it’s good, they’ll come back. And they’ll tell their friends and INVITE them, yes.
    But I don’t want to be the restaurant owner. I want to be the coffee-maker.

    You get what I’m saying?

  6. gareth Says:

    i thought god made the coffee beans – and we dispense?
    Or – we help people see that they don’t need a dispenser/seller/mediator?
    fun little metaphor there.

  7. gus Says:

    we capetonians actually think Olympia cafe looks nice inside. Never thought of it as dilapidated. The food is also a hang of a lot more fantastic than the stuff they serve at church.

    If the church consistently delivered such good food – (metaphorical of course) – I think it’d be full every day – and so would we.


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