The other day my family and I had some time to kill and wanted to go to a café. After some deliberation about different options we decided to visit Story Espresso in Lane Cove. I had heard a lot about the cafe from friends who live in Lane Cove, not to mention it is ranked #2 on Bean Hunter for the best café in Sydney.
Something struck me when I got there though. For all the hype that was produced about this place, the café itself was difficult to find. Once we found the café it looked like someone had just put a coffee machine in that morning and started selling coffee. I didn’t notice a sign out the front telling me that I’m at one of the best cafés in Sydney.
This got me thinking about the ethos of the café. I wonder if they have taken on the hedgehog principal from the book, Good to Great by Jim Collins. This comes from a Greek fable about a fox trying to work out lots of ways to get to the hedgehog, but the hedgehog is successful because he know how to do one thing, roll up in a ball, and do it really well. So, if you want to learn how to roll up in a ball go to the hedgehog, but he won’t be able to teach you much else. It seems to me that Story Espresso does one thing well – make really good coffee. If you wanted to use a Christian phrase, their gospel is really good coffee.
This got me thinking about ministry. As I write this I’m about to embark on my second O-week at UWS. There is a strong desire to do something different to what is happened before, something bigger, over the top. Bigger signs, louder announcements about our presence, or even getting the students to dress up in different costumes to attract students to our group.
But I have been challenged to keep things simple. The hedgehog principal. A Christian group on any campus is essentially a community of people who sets its foundations on the gospel of Jesus Christ. This means the teaching, training, the hanging out, and everything in between has to be littered with the gospel.
If that is the case, we need to be able to do that well. You might want to go to a hedgehog if you want to curl up into a ball. But if you want to be a part of a community that shows the truth about Jesus, his love, his death and resurrection and his place as Lord and King in your life, then a Christian community is the place you should be going.
So, forget the big lights, the over the top things that will attract those who are looking for a show, do the simple and foundational things well. Teach the gospel of Jesus Christ. The Apostle Paul talks about this in his letter to the church in Corinth. He says, “When I came to you, brothers, announcing the testimony of God to you, I did not come with brilliance of speech or wisdom. For I didn’t think it was a good idea to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified. I came to you in weakness, in fear, and in much trembling. My speech and my proclamation were not with persuasive words of wisdom but with a powerful demonstration by the Spirit, so that your faith might not be based on men’s wisdom but on God’s power” (1Cor. 2:1-5).
Our tendency can be to go all out, to get the best group, the most numbers, but having a strong foundation will mean that those you have in your group are quality people, convicted by the gospel, wanting to see the university campus as their mission field, willing to do what it takes to make Jesus known to their friends.