Bad Coffee = Bad Christianity (Guest Post by Jonathan Damico)

I am the daughter of a latte maker. I knew how to make a cappuccino by the time I was 10-years-old. Bad coffee is almost sinful in the “Ryan home” (Ryan is my maiden name). My dad owned his own cafe seven years of my life. He is a bit of a coffee snob which has made me a bit of a coffee snob. Life’s too short to drink bad coffee, right?

I grew up in the church, yet I have only had one excellent cup of coffee in church my whole life and that was last year in California. My husband is from California and they are always ahead of everyone else when it comes to popular culture. Sometimes it’s annoying how cool they are out west. But, good coffee at church is definitely not annoying. It is righteous for a church to offer a *free* good cup of jo and I have invited my friend who works at World Vision to tell you why.

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Hi! Im Jonathan. Jory told me to put a bio in here so you know who I am, so I’ll throw that at the end. I agree with Jory, 100%.  A coffee says a lot about a place, especially if you find yourself a bit on the “snobbish” end of the coffee meter.

Like Jory’s Dad (whom I know and work with and yes, the man knows his coffee!) there is something about quality or excellence that registers with me. Honestly, I think it is something that registers with each of us as humans. It’s as if it might be wired into us.

In the book of Genesis, God starts making things. That’s how He kicks the party off. He puts on his hard hat (OSHA is serious business) and gets to work. He makes plants and oceans and trees and penguins and stegosauruses and those bugs that look like sticks and lizards that can lick their eye and everything else. Except cats.

He then says, “Not bad, Me..” Then, He makes the “creativity icing” for the cake and makes people. He doesn’t just make them in the way He made the other stuff, but He gets really personal, gets down on His knees, and forms man out of dirt with His own hands. Then, in a final stroke of genius, He breathes His very own breath into them.

His very Spirit – all of that creative stuff – He breathes into the life and essence of humanity. As man comes to life, he takes a look and says, “Dang. That is rad.” Whether you believe the creation narrative to be a factual telling or understand it to be more of a story or narrative, it doesn’t matter. That imagery is one I can not escape. God put His best into us. It was “very good.” So, what does this have to do with coffee? Everything.

As followers of The Way, we are called to model who God is. Jesus showed us how to tangibly live our lives, but on an even deeper level, God wired us with excellence because it’s who HE is. I dont know if it’s the speed and greed of western culture or just somewhere along the line we simply lost the plot, but I believe we as Christians should be championing the cause of excellence.  When we bring the absolute best of whatever it is we are dealing with we are actually bringing the God who created us to the conversation.

It breaks my heart when I hear things like, “well, it’s about the message-” which often gets tossed around especially in the realm of art and creativity in the church. But, is that the truth? Let’s create a hypothetical situation. Meet Xavier (this is my hypothetical story, I’ll make up the hypothetical name.) X is a really creative person. He loves movies. Not just watching them, but also what really goes into them – the thought, the design, the story telling. Movies resonates in his being. It’s visceral.

X, who doesn’t go to church because he never really has (his parents separated as a kid and faith was never a part of his life) gets invited by a friend to go to a movie screening. His friend told him, “It’s this movie about God. I think it’ll be good.” So, as someone who loves the art form and is curious about God (or even not curious about God) X goes to the screening. As he watches it, creatively, it just doesn’t measure up. The story line has holes. The actors are not convincing. The editing is poor. The package does not carry much excellence. X has seen better at local colleges and film festivals. He didn’t understand the message.

At what point did the message carry more value than the excellence? Would a film of greater quality better tell the story as well as speak to a person? I believe so. Dont get me wrong. I am not just beating up Christian stuff. There are some people out there doing amazing things. Since I mentioned film, check out WanderLust Productions. Director Darren Wilson understands excellence. I recently wept at a film he made about an aging MMA fighter. Why? Not because I like humans pummeling each other. I am one of the most non-violent people you may ever meet. It moved me because the story mattered. It was dripping with excellence. It spoke of God even when a guy was kneeing another guy in the spleen.

As christians, we should be moved to and charged with excellence. Whatever the realm; be it film, music, community redevelopment, international aid, a businesses we dream up or making a simple cup of coffee. Excellence does not necessarily just mean just throwing more money at something. We tend to sometimes do that as christians, too.  It’s really about heart. When we are passionate about excellence, we will put the blood, sweat, tears, and money into it!

This conversation will always lead us to the point where we will undoubtedly hear, “well, coffee isn’t my thing.  I’ll drink whatever.” This is actually where the Church has an incredible opportunity! If you are in leadership in a church and coffee is not “your thing” find the person who coffee IS their thing and give them the reigns to your coffee station (and the french presses and the pour overs and the cold brew stuff. Oh, the Glory!)

I promise you, when someone who doesn’t care about coffee encounters one who will passionately serve them with a perfect cup of steaming jo, coffee may very well become “their thing” too. They will see the joy, the wonder and the smile that will come with it, and in that moment, Jesus will be encountered and experienced even before they step foot into your sanctuary.

This is the fun part about humanity – we all have our “things” that make us giddy up. Things that reach down deep into our guts and yell “THIS IS WHAT YOU ARE HERE FOR!” That’s that breath of God breathed into you! As we step into this new world of the Postmodern/Post-Christian Church, we are going to need to empower people to find and do their passions. Quality matters. Excellence matters. These are the things that speak volumes over the voice that says, “we have coffee. It tastes like basement but, Jesus loves you.”

I have heard inspirational crazy spiritual sage Bob Goff say, “Do more of what you’re good at and less of what you’re not.” We need that in our faith communities. We need that in our faith, period. When we begin to access and release that intrinsic heavenly passion in people, excellence will come with it and it will speak so loudly of who God is to the world around us.

It will take work and honestly, it will require leaders to let go of some stuff in order to let those with the passions for said stuff run with it (which is actually a part of leading, but that’s a conversation for another day); but I promise, it will begin to make a difference. God will kick back and say, “Yep. That’s good. Look at my kids go!” as He watches us begin to change the world with the excellence in creativity and activity that He built into us from the very beginning. Plus, the coffee will be freaking awesome.


Jonathan Damico is a musician, dreamer, futurist, communicator, husband to his wife Richelle, visionary, creative, lover of good books, dad to his drooly faced American Bulldog Zoey, coffee snob, ENFP, hockey fan and wearer of brightly colored glasses and pants. He cries at Disney movies and is often told to “calm down” when out in public. He usually does not comply. He tweets @damicojc and VERY, very recently started blogging at

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