This year marked the 50th anniversary of the Coffee Break small group Bible study ministry, but the coronavirus pandemic put the celebration of that milestone on hold.
“We were going to have a conference (to celebrate), but it got canceled because of COVID, so we moved the conference to next year before Inspire,” said Juan Sierra, the program manager for the global Coffee Break ministry and the Discover Your Bible study series. “We’re just going to celebrate it then.” Inspire is a ministry conference that has been hosted by the Christian Reformed Church every two years since August 2017.
The pandemic has presented numerous challenges for Coffee Break and the CRC congregations that offer it over the past year. Sierra says the organization has worked with churches on ideas for meeting, either virtually using technology or in-person while practicing measures to reduce the spread of the virus.
“Some group members who feel comfortable using Zoom are meeting on Zoom and others are meeting in person, using social distancing,” he said.
Sierra says the split among groups meeting in-person versus virtually is running about 50-50.
“Our key thing (as an organization) has been communication. We’ve been in more of a listening posture—listening to what struggles the groups are having as they try to meet, how best they can do that, and just providing a space where people can brainstorm with each other and come together,” he said.
The pandemic has offered the ministry an opportunity to hold Zoom calls with national Coffee Break leaders from both the United States and Canada, which it hadn’t been able to do in-person, Sierra said.
Coffee Break has increased its social media presence on Facebook in this time. In addition, “we offer all our studies digitally online and on our website so people are able to take advantage of that,” Sierra said.
Coffee Break plans to offer a subscription-based video training service for group leaders in the near future. “These are pre recorded videos that are interactive,” Sierra said.
Raise Up Global Ministries, the CRC ministry that encompases Coffee Break, Timothy Leadership Training and Educational Care, is collecting stories of impact for the 50 years of Coffee Break. That effort is connected to a fundraising campaign for the ministry.