As a church planter in Los Angeles I am always looking for creative and effective ways to reach the community for Christ. Since launching Grace City LA last September, I have had the privilege of exposing people in my congregation to the beauty of expository preaching, Christ-centered praise music, and fellowship that mixes people of all age and ethnic backgrounds.
Since day one, we also started evangelism, which is one of the pillars of our philosophy of ministry. We have had an exciting door-to-door ministry in which we systematically visit houses, apartments, parks, and even religious establishments next to our church to proclaim the good news of the gospel to our neighbors. We have also experimented with creative ways to connect with Angelenos in the community. The most recent idea was a Sushi Night in which we served free sushi to our neighbors and used that as a platform to preach the gospel to the visitors.
Just recently, we decided to do something called Grace Cafe Outreach. The whole idea behind this was giving out free coffee from our little booth to people walking down the streets of Downtown. Our first occasion was on April 14 in Little Tokyo outside the Japanese Village Plaza.
We weren’t going to give out just any cheap coffee. We wanted to provide some of the best quality stuff and to give it to people at no charge. The menu of the day was simply Peet’s Medium Roast with homemade chocolate and oatmeal cookies individually wrapped. Even our half and half was freshly bought and our sugar was organic. Talk about work and dedication! We made everything beforehand at our church campus before bringing it over to Little Tokyo.
The goal of this outreach was twofold:
One, to demonstrate the charity of our Lord. By giving onto people freely (and giving great stuff!), we wanted people to see the love of Christ in the church, the same love which He showers upon people so freely in His common grace. In some ways, you can say that it is a picture of Jesus’ compassion when He provided for the 5,000 with fish and bread (Matthew 14:13-21). Giving free drinks that makes people glad causes them to ask us about our church and our goals.
Two, to proclaim the gospel. This testimony is intended to open up doors for gospel proclamation. At times, we were able to have conversations with people about the hope of eternal life in Christ, or at least to invite them out to church so that they can learn more about Jesus. It was a great way to connect with non-Christians, but also with Christians who are searching for a new church in the DTLA vicinity.
We had no idea what the reception was going to be. This coffee idea was something that I heard as a suggestion when I was at an old church a couple years ago, but nobody ever acted on it. It turns out this test run was a success. Many people came to our station to grab some free coffee – both hot and iced. All the business cards ran out. People asked about the whereabouts of Grace City LA. AND three people even prayed to receive Christ as Lord and Savior!
This has definitely been one of my most enjoyable outreach events. It was a hot spring Saturday, but our enthusiasm to connect with people and witness for Christ made it all worth it. There are a few things we will modify, but Grace Cafe is something that we plan to be a permanent, ongoing ministry for Grace City LA. We see it as an excellent way to serve the community, bring smiles to many faces, and to expose them to Christ.
Our start date will be May 5 (Saturday). We will experiment with new drink options, such as Ice Coffee or Thai Ice Tea, made from scratch and from the best quality ingredients. We want to be able to replicate the quality of the drinks you find at cafes and refreshment shops in the area. And to offer it all at no cost. The best way to keep updated on our schedule – time, location, and menu – is to follow our Instagram and Twitter pages, which is updated constantly.
If you are in the Downtown area and are looking for a complimentary Thai Ice Tea and to connect with some great people, then visit us at Grace Cafe. Events like this don’t come around too often. We delight in serving the city and giving back to the community.
Steve Cha is the teaching pastor of Grace City LA.
PHOTOS: Grace City LA.