Why Tapestry Setups the Way We Setup – Part #1 The Coffee & Snack Table

I get the privilege of being a part of one of Marc Martin’s C12 (a business peer and coaching group from a Christian perspective) meetings each month. It is always enjoyable. Sometimes the business specific information he covers relates very well to the pastoring and chaplaining I get the privilege to do and sometimes I just get the chance to take the topic and think of other things (sorry Marc but there wasn’t much I could do with the section a few months ago concerning cyber-security – I don’t have anything to do with CCAs cyber-security and I simply used “password1234” for everything related to the Tapestry 😁)

Today we talked briefly about the struggle to delegate and I confessed how much trouble I have delegating things within Tapestry.  Specifically, that I don’t really have a problem asking someone to do something but then I struggle with them not doing it the way that I think it is important. I am basically the “jack of all trades and master of none” when it comes to setup for our Sunday morning worship gatherings. There isn’t much involved in setup that I am not at least proficient in (other than making the cover – for some reason I really stink at making the coffee). This works well in that I can fill in where every it is needed. It also leads to me being seriously tempted to take over when I see something not setup in a way that I believe reflects the purpose we are aiming for as a church that follows Christ.

Rublev’s “Icon of the Trinity” hangs beside the desk in my study where I write the messages for Tapestry, along with an image of C.S. Lewis’s wardrobe, a hatchet from my dad, and an autographed football form Bart Starr. 

Therefore, I want to write out some of the “why” of our setup for our Sunday morning gatherings. We have a purposeful idea of why we do the things we do and that should be, and ideally is, reflected in the setup of our Sunday morning worship gatherings. I have discussed before (here) why the church is named Tapestry. The short version of that post is that we best bear the image of God (Imago Dei) when we are “woven” into each others’ lives, like a tapestry whose image is created by its threads being woven together. I believe God’s nature as Trinity is the best example of this type of union. I love Andrei Rublev‘s Icon of Trinity for its image of this interwoveness (I may have created a word here). That icon displays God as Trinity as the Three seated at table in conversation.  That is what I believe Tapestry’s Sunday morning worship gatherings should look and feel like – an inviting conversation of people who love each other deeply and are ready to welcome others to that love.

Let’s begin with a drawing of what they looks like in our gym setup.

Now for me to explain what and why that drawing is the way it is. This is going to be long winded so I will do it in several posts.

First, I’ll talk about the most important part of the whole room, the coffee and snack table. I’m really not joking there. Yes our singing is important, yep the message is important (and hopefully I do I decent job of), sure our information table is important, but I personally believe that the coffee and snack table is the place in the room where we make it or break it on displaying a love for each other that comes from God and welcoming others into that love (unless, of course, if you consider setup and tear down – which are my favorite parts of our gatherings). This is where “threads” gather and talk with each other and also do the best job of bringing others into that conversation.  I love that I have a hard time each week getting people away from the table to “start” our gatherings, or at least start the “formal” part of our gatherings. This table isn’t merely about socializing. At its best it is deep interwoveness (I am going to continue using this word because I like it). It is a reflection of the Trinity. It is the followers of Christ letting others know that they are Jesus’s disciples by their love for one another (John 13:35) and welcoming others into that love also. I believe it also hints at the Agape Feasts that were so much a part of the early church, which were basically a weekly potluck that had communion as a part of them.

The importance of this table is why I have thought seriously about its placement. The table used to be where the sound table is now, which is by the entrance to the gym/ The problem was that the crowd that gathered around the table, to enjoy each other’s company, formed a barrier right by the entry and made it rather intimidating for guests to enter the room. Imagine having to walk through a crowd of strangers to enter the room. So we moved the coffee and snack table across the room so that our guests can enter the room easily. Soon after entering some “thread” will see them, start talking with them, and slowly but surely some way or another end up at the coffee & snack table. This is why we keep plenty of open room around the coffee and snack table.

My personal goal for every guest that enters the Washington School gym on a Sunday morning is for them to have 3 significant interactions with someone who is a part of Tapestry (one with me, one with a member of the Leadership Team, and one with another random thread). I see it happen pretty much every time a guest enters the gym. They walk in past the sound table, where I often am and I start a conversation with them. Then a member of the Leadership Team does the same thing. Finally, a random thread comes over and invites them to the coffee and snack table. Bam! “Hey come grab some coffee, a snack, and jump into the conversation.” 

This table is the beginning of the welcoming conversation and it is why the coffee that is made and the snacks that volunteers make each week are so important. When you make these snacks I encourage your to pray over them because God uses the work of your hands (or your purchases if you are running late) to invite our church to live out His image that we bear together as we are woven into each others’ lives. Our snack volunteers are on the front line of us bearing the image of the God described in Rublev’s Icon of the Trinity.

Tomorrow (or the next day), I’ll write about why we setup the chairs the way we do. For now I will leave you with the sound of our “haunted” percolator that sits on the coffee and snack table.

SIDE NOTE – Thanks for making me think about putting this in writing Marc.

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