Café Culture Part 1: The Open Door, Bardney
The Open Door coffee shop had its beginnings during an ecumenical Lent course being held in the village. During this course, participants were encouraged as churches together to listen to our local community: how could we best serve them, what did they need and how could we reach them? After this period of listening it became clear that the village needed a community space where people could gather – a community hub. The words ‘coffee shop’ came up often.
Prior to and during the Lent course, there were regular times dedicated to prayer, worship, seeking God and listening to Him and seeing what He was already doing. It was during this time that a couple, who were part of this group, had a dilapidated commercial unit in the village and were prompted to offer this for free to potentially use as a coffee shop.
Fast forward two years, after lots of prayer, laughs, tears, paint samples and a considerable amount of hard work, The Open Door was opened to the public. There are two double fronted windows, which the group see as both a window out onto the community in which they live and also a window into the church family in Bardney.
The café opened for three days a week with ten volunteers, mostly from local churches. Starting small meant they could be consistent in what they could offer. The first day they opened they made our first friend, a 60+-year-old lady who had lost her husband only weeks earlier. With no family or friends nearby she was isolated, lonely and very sad. The group spent time building a relationship with her, and she later became part of our monthly ‘Communitea’ (a bring and share tea open to all), where she was loved and supported.
The group have found the shop invaluable in meeting the needs of the local community, connecting and building relationships with people who may never attend ‘regular’ church. They have met their needs by merely loving, serving and being authentically themselves.
The café is now in its third year and opens for four days each week. The team have run CAP money courses, held ‘thank-you dinners’ for NHS staff, run music nights, a free movie night, all manner of training for our volunteers, two reading groups, and are currently in the middle of their second Alpha course. The café now employs four local people, thereby blessing the local economy and have a further twenty volunteers to call on who range in age from 15 to 92!
The humble beginnings of this much-loved community coffee shop serve as an open witness to the local community of God’s love and provision for them. “There are no strangers here, only friends we are yet to meet” was a quote given to them by one of their regular customers. Now, building on the ‘Communitea’ events, the coffee shop team have launched ‘Chapel@4’ – a dedicated service aimed at those who do not attend church regularly. The first event saw 43 people attend, over half of whom were unchurched!