Exam time means tired students drinking lots of caffeine. So Encounter Christian Reformed Church in Kentwood, Mich., provided caffeine as well as food and study space for students cramming in last-minute studying. The idea came from student and church member Mark Brower.
“Mark proposed it to me as a way of connecting more meaningfully with college students,” said Encounter’s pastor, Dirk VanEyk. “I was initially skeptical because colleges often have terrific study spaces on-campus, but Mark had a vision for free food, coffee, lattes, and WiFi all decidedly off-campus.”
About a hundred students from all over the area came to Café Day. Three pounds (1.4 kg) of espresso, four gallons (15 liters) of milk for lattes, and two pounds (.9 kg) of chai were consumed along with regular coffee. Students heard about the event through Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and word of mouth.
Café day was an example of an event hosted by the new College Outreach Team at the church, which focuses on engaging college students. In addition to organizing the exam event, the team ordered in pizza, brought lawn games, and provided carpooling to church on Sunday mornings. The team was created by Jeremy Smith and Brower.
“Churches could be more successful at connecting with young adults if they spend more time empowering a few to do great things and then stepping back,” VanEyk said. “It's hard, but in the end well worth it. Mark did an outstanding job.”
“I think Café Day has become a new tradition at Encounter come exam time,” Brower said.