Churches, “Convictional Kindness” & (Coffee) Bean Counting

There is a bizarre brouhaha brewing in Sioux City, Iowa.

Cary Gordon, Pastor of “Cornerstone World Outreach” wanted to sell Jumpy Monkey Coffee in his world outreach’s gift shop.

After deliberating upon the arrangement, Jumpy Monkey declined.

It was at this point that Pastor Gordon could have practiced what Dr. Russell Moore calls “Convictional Kindness” by dialoguing with Jumpy Monkey Coffee.  Was the Church’s stand on abortion a factor?  Did the Church’s stance on homosexuality contribute? Was it possible that the problem was not so much Cornerstone World Outreach’s theology, but the practical application of their theology in Sioux City over the years?

Instead, Gordon stepped up on his 24,000 follower strong Twitter platform and compared Jumpy Monkey Coffee to Alexander the coppersmith who did great harm to the Apostle Paul.  Gordon goes on to explain that Jumpy Monkey Coffee is “…willfully subversive to the Church of Jesus Christ.”

For over a week Gordon has been busy tweeting, blogging and posting on Facebook concerning the nefarious activities of Jumpy Monkey Coffee.

Today, Pastor Gordon warned his fellow pastors that they may be helping to usher in the end of the world by not taking the threat Jumpy Monkey Coffee represents seriously.

But wait, there’s more.

Believe it or not this cup has an even more bitter finish.

Jumpy Monkey Coffee is a philanthropic coffee outfit which exists to give jobs to people recovering from traumatic head injuries. 

Jumpy Monkey Coffee’s CEO Stephanie Brown responded to Pastor Gordon’s complaints in the “Sioux City Journal”, if you’re interested in hearing her side of the story.

Allow me to offer some thoughts on this still unfolding saga.  While there are issues surrounding the issues of refusal of service, and honesty running through this story, my concern is how Pastors and Churches live out the Gospel in a watching world.

1.  When Christians do not get their way about something in the public square it is not time to sound the alarm and shout, “Cry havoc and let slip the dogs of war!”.  It is rather, the opportune time to show the love of Christ through turning the other cheek (Matthew 5).  While there is a “Great Commission” in Matthew 28, one will be hard pressed to find a “Great Declaration of Culture War”.

2.  The world does not actually owe the Church of Jesus Christ anything, let alone coffee.  Rather it is we who owe the world the Gospel of Christ Crucified for sinners.  Neither sin nor grace should be over emphasized or ignored to the detriment of the other.  While the world owes the Church nothing, the Apostle Paul instructs Christians in Romans 13:8 to “Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law.

3.  If Jumpy Monkey Coffee’s desire to not be your world outreach center’s gift shop coffee vender is the worse persecution your faith causes: you have it good.

4.  Pastor Gordon’s reference to Acts 19’s riot in Ephesus is beyond ironic because it is the Pastor who is stirring up the mob, not Jumpy Monkey Coffee.

5.  Whereas The Lord Jesus Christ promised that He would build His Church so that the gates of Hell shall not prevail against it (Matthew 16:18), Jumpy Monkey Coffee’s refusal to provide coffee to Pastor Gordon’s world outreach gift shop should not have caused this severe and ill advised outburst on his part.

6. In calling for a boycott of Jumpy Monkey Coffee at grocery stores like Hy-Vee and Fareway (even insinuating that the owner of Fareway, as a Christian, should pull the product) he may well have harmed the economic well being of Jumpy Monkey’s employees. The employees have nothing to do with this quarrel.  This isn’t about rhetoric, this is about real people’s livelihoods.  This is an irresponsible use of social media.

7.  Finally, please pray for Sioux City.  Whereas much of the nation may consider Sioux City to be “fly over country”, indeed a place only to be mentioned as a punch line to a joke, it is in fact precious in the sight of our Lord.  Sioux City is a regional hub with 168,000 souls, 3 colleges and as the book of Jonah might put it, “as well as many animals”.  Pastor Gordon’s Cornerstone World Outreach is perhaps the most visible Church in the city.  If one is so inclined to Google the Church one will find that the Church seems to be in the news for all the wrong reasons.

May the name of Christ not be damaged by those who seem to feed off of the publicity of perpetual moral outrage.

Pastors, let us not cry crocodile tears over spilt coffee.

For more resources on how the Church should interact with the culture with “Convictional Kindness” see:

“Should We Pull Back From Politics” by Dr. Russell Moore

“A Prophetic Minority: Kingdom, Mission, And Culture In A New Era” By Dr. Russell Moore 

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