I recently had a conversation with a good friend (Gary with Four 41 South BBQ) where he told me about a conversation he had with a local Economic Development Manager. They were talking about an existing coworking space and Gary mentioned The Oak House was opening in Canton. After a few seconds of confusion, the EDM looked at Gary and said, “Oh….that’s the church coffee shop”. I was immediately hit with a flood of emotions including excitement and annoyance.
First, I was excited to hear someone had heard about what we were doing. See, one of the things The Oak House is striving to do is to be a model of how churches can be better stewards of their spaces between Sundays. A Pastor has no problems getting up on stage and telling his congregants to be good stewards for their resources, but the buildings they meet in sit empty 6 days out of the week (and honestly that 7th day isn’t too packed either). We think churches need to do a better job of being intentional about reaching their community with their space.
Second, I was annoyed. I was annoyed he called us a church coffee shop; here’s why: Most church coffee shops suck. They play nothing but Christian Music, they have religious symbols all over their walls, and they only cater to people who are inside the walls of the church. They think blaring the latest Casting Crowns, or some old-school NewSong will “win some souls to Jesus”. This is just a modern day equivalent to grabbing a milk crate and shouting at strangers walking the street. I’m not saying God CAN’T use that method to reach people. I’m saying there is usually a relationship with someone before there is a revelation in someone.
To be fair, I cannot be mad about the way The Oak House has been received in the community. If any confusion exists, it is because I have allowed it to. All of our Social Media handles were @oakhousecoffee. D’oh! Now, they say @oakhousecanton, a more accurate reflection of the eco-system we exist in. We talk about the space as a “cafe & coworking space”. We no longer have “cafe” in the verbiage. Will we have a cafe? Yes. It is not, however, the primary focus of the space.
I want to be very clear when I say this…The Oak House is NOT a church coffee shop. We are a Coworking Space. About 11% of our total space will be coffee related. The other 88% is dedicated to community and collaboration. We will have an auditorium capable of holding about 150-175 people. We will have small, medium, and large conference rooms available to rent by the hour, half day, or whole day. We will have dozens of hot-desks in our auditorium. We will have blazing fast 5 Ghz WiFi. We will have a couple small offices available to rent for the day.
So The Oak House is all about Community, Collaboration, and Coffee. What do each of these mean to you? I would love to hear your thoughts.