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Michigan Church Comes to Campus With Coffee

In the student welcome center at Muskegon Community College, Bethany CRC’s Common Grounds hopes to make connections with students by sharing coffee.

A Christian Reformed congregation in Muskegon, Mich., has begun a pop-up coffee ministry at a nearby college.

Bethany Christian Reformed Church launched its ministry, known as Common Grounds, at Muskegon Community College in late March. About 60 cups of coffee were served on the first day at no cost—coffee drinkers were only asked to tell one amazing thing about themselves in exchange for the free cup, as kind of an ice breaker to start conversation.

Other days, the ministry has a “question of the day,” again as a way to create conversation.

“We’re just trying to make positive connections that have an effect on kids of that age,” said Jill Young, a part-time pastor at Bethany CRC who came up with the idea for the ministry. Young has two sons who attend the college.

“We were looking to find a way to offer the peace of Christ to believers, those who might be questioning their faith, who are of a different faith, or who don’t have a faith at all,” Young said.

Young approached Resonate Global Mission with the idea of launching the coffee ministry and received a $5,000 ministry experimentation grant to support the project. Common Grounds is also supported by Classis Muskegon, a regional group of churches serving that area.

Young said she and the Common Grounds volunteers have already begun to build relationships with Muskegon Community College students. “The people who want connection will stick around and chat with you,” she said. “We’ve been able to take discussions into deep faith area, and that’s a real blessing.”

Bethany has been part of the Muskegon community since 1903.

Young hopes to expand on the early connections that she has made with students through the coffee ministry.

“We hope to get the privilege of expanded opportunities, like leading a group focused on faith-based social justice issues, which is what these kids have expressed an interest in,” she said. “We are also slowly making connections with other groups and clubs on campus and hope to dig in there too. It’s fun to join in what God is already doing at MCC.”


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