Piper spilling the “beans”?

Recently, pastor and author John Piper tweeted this:

To date it has more than 1,300 comments and almost 2,800 likes. Foxnews ran a story on it today here. It was an interesting read as Catholics, Jehovah’s Witnesses and Jewish leaders weighed in on the issue.

“Shots” fired. Expresso-ly at coffee drinkers.

In many evangelical churches coffee is a staple. Many churches have coffee bars or coffee shops, often creatively named Holy Grounds, Hebrews or Bean Redeemed.

So to put my cards on the table, I don’t like coffee. Not the taste nor the smell. I’m a cold caffeine person. Give me Dr. Pepper with its not one, not two, but 23 natural flavors and I’m good to go.

So my thoughts on the issues are probably somewhat biased against coffee. However, personal preferences aside, I see his point. I think there are several reasons that one might reconsider “Sunday coffee-sipping”, both found in Piper’s tweet.

1. Calling it “coffee-sipping” brings out the idea that this is not just drinking to stay hydrated, it is an activity to be enjoyed. To that end,I would say that at the very least, it could be distracting. Worship is an activity that should require our attention, and requires us to sing, read and pray. I’m not sure enjoying a cup of coffee helps with that.

2. I think Piper is saying that coffee-sipping in the sanctuary is not reverent, and I can see this point, as do many people in the Foxnews article. I wouldn’t bring my Big Gulp Dr. Pepper into church with me. It would just feel like I was going to a ballgame. For some reason, some feel that for many people that coffee is an acceptable alternative for drinking in church.

So, I not trying to judge or “roast” anyone or cause a “brew-ha-ha” and I don’t think Piper is either. He is asking a question to reassess. Good question.

11 comments to Piper spilling the “beans”?

  • Mark Spencer

    Bringing a drink in to worship is not good optics, IMO. I have a problem with bringing food and drinks into an auditorium, anyway.

  • Brennan B

    I do understand the sentiment from Dr. Piper. I do feel that my reasoning for not bringing coffee into the sanctuary can be summed up by the question: “do we need it?”. I hear too often from my friends the idea that, “oh man I just need my cup of coffee”, or “I won’t be able to stay awake without it”. We do not need caffeine. Can it be helpful? Of course! However, I think that people’s reliance of the caffeine is the travesty in and of itself. If you can’t go to church without caffeine, maybe you should be resting more and not relying of it. Coffee should be enjoyed thought! it is a tasty treat for many people and I see nothing wrong with it. However, we should not need it.

  • I think that this is a very good question, one that I have never really thought of before. It’s important to remember that Piper asked a question, he did not provide an answer. Piper didn’t necessarily say that he doesn’t like it (although he implies it to some extent) he simply encourages us to asses why we do it. I think this question of why is important. I have often seen many people worshiping with one hand raised and a cup of coffee in the other. While I don’t think that this is necessarily sinful, it definitely can be distracting.

    While this is definitely a good question that reminds us to think critically about our worship, where do we draw the line? If we decide we shouldn’t drink coffee in church, should we also leave our cellphones in a bucket outside the sanctuary, not allow iPads for notes and a digital bible, or electric solos? As with so many other issues in the church, the question we should ask is “does it aid or distract from our worship?

  • Josh Peoples

    I get what Piper is getting at with this tweet, but I am unsure as to how significant this question actually is. The only reason I say that is because I don’t think your average church goer is thinking about that while they walk into the service with coffee on a Sunday morning. I do understand the discussion and I certainly see how coffee during worship could lead to distractions, and I hadn’t thought of the way it compares to someone bringing a Dr. Pepper into the service as well. If a soda is distracting in a service, wouldn’t it make sense that coffee would be too? This would make sense, but it definitely seems like there could be a double standard here. Although, I cannot help but wonder if coffee is just another one of those things that we have assumed to be a necessity in the average church experience…

  • Noah Reaoch

    I understand Piper’s sentiment. I think that some modern church practices have eliminated reverence from our worship services. Many people treat the worship service like a show or concert, where a drink would be perfectly acceptable. Much of the blame lies with churches who have allowed their worship services to turn into flashy shows, forgetting to focus their attention on God and direct our reverent awe towards Him. While doing something like drinking coffee during church certainly isn’t sinful, we must evaluate whether it is the best thing to do. If it becomes a distraction or even projects the image of being disengaged, we should save the coffee for after church.

  • Jamie S

    I am not that much of a coffee person but, starting to get more into it. Like Dr.O’ I would prefer a coke cola. With having a beverage in worship I don’t really like the idea. But, I would say that water would be okay to have in worship if your throat is dry. With food in worship and church it an be very distracting.

  • Ryan G

    I also believe this as a good question to ask ourselves. While my initial thought is that it is okay to drink coffee during the service, I understand the extreme importance of keeping worship reverent. Christians, especially church leaders, should be weary of anything that might distract the congregation from worshiping reverently and with awe. For example, if the church uses strobe lighting on stage during worship, it’s very likely that the congregation would be focused on that and the showmanship of the songs than actually worshiping God.

    However, drinking coffee still seems different than this. Personally, I think that it should be something that a person evaluates for themselves. If the question is brought up to them, they can assess whether or not they believe they are being irreverent through their coffee-sipping. If they believe they are able to focus on worship while having a coffee cup by their feet (I don’t think I’ve ever seen someone hold their coffee while worshiping), then they should be allowed to do it. If someone assesses the question and does want to change their coffee-drinking habits, then they should do just that.

    There is also the perspective of if drinking coffee could distract other people from worship. If this is the case, I would suggest the person being distracted to move to a different area of the auditorium where they can’t see anyone drinking their coffee. Ultimately, I do not see drinking coffee as a big enough deal to forbid it from the auditorium.

  • Brayden Groff

    This is definitely an issue that I had never considered before. I think immediately, my mind goes to all of the other distractions that are with us in church. We all walk in with cellphones in our pockets and we have instrumentalists on stage. In the same way that both of these things can either be a distraction or a tool for our worship, I think we can think about coffee in a sanctuary in the same way.

    Coffee can either be something that distracts us from our worship or helps us to focus on it. It is hard to say which is true in an individual so I think that it is everyone’s responsibility to evaluate their own habits in church. It is important to be constantly considering why we do the things that we do on a Sunday morning and to evaluate if they are helping us or hurting us in our focused worship of God in reverence and awe.

  • Brennan B

    That is a good point grant that I did not see the first time. This is one of those things that should be to the discretion of the individual. Is it something that you need or just enjoy? Is it something that distracts? All of these are good questions to ask could the money go to other, more important things?

  • I can neither agree or disagree if coffee should be acceptable during worship. I personally love coffee, but it is not my first choice to drink it while I am worshipping. I know for myself it can definitely be a distraction. With that being said, everyone is different. Coffee isn’t made to hydrate, it is meant to be enjoyed; but I also believe that coffee can be an easy way to welcome new comers and make them feel more at home. I think this “argument” is something that we need to personally asses in our own lives.

  • Abigail McNett

    I personally love coffee. With that being said, it is not my first choice to hold it in my hands while worshipping. I know myself, and I have realized that coffee can be a distraction. That doesn’t mean it’s a distraction for others though. In my opinion coffee can be a great way to make new comers feel welcomed and more at home. This debate should be something that we examine in our own lives. If you think your morning coffee is distracting you from fully worshipping, then maybe you should leave the coffee at home.