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Brewing Coffee, Making Connections

Former children’s pastors yield to a new caffeinated calling.

Nate J. and Sharon R. Grenier didn’t even drink coffee when they felt God’s tug on their hearts to open a shop selling the caffeinated brew.

The two had been working in children’s ministries in Pennsylvania when they sensed the Lord persistently urging them to go elsewhere. After six months of fighting the Holy Spirit, they resigned.

“We just felt this longing to go out and meet people and be part of a community,” Nate says. “It threw us for a massive loop when we said goodbye to our dream jobs (in children’s ministry) to say yes to something we knew nothing about.”

Along that journey, God confirmed the call as the Greniers met with another young couple at a coffee shop.

“They brought up this five-second blip of how it would be really neat to have a coffee shop that was a real resource to the community,” Sharon says. As the Greniers left the shop, the idea began percolating in their hearts. Soon they reached out to mentors to determine how they might undertake such a project.

As the Greniers shared their idea, various missionaries immediately understood.

“I was introduced to this idea of missional living,” says Nate. “I knew a lot of people wouldn’t go to a church, but they would go to a coffee shop. In that setting, we could be the hands and feet of Jesus.”

Through a series of small steps and miracles, Nate and Sharon, both 31 at the time, opened the first Coffee Connections brick-and-mortar location in May 2016 in Hilliard, Ohio.

Coffee Connections has recruited volunteers to help clean city parks, serve hot chocolate, and even get plugged in with the local school system. The Greniers have been able to put on puppet shows for kids and provide a regular “mom’s coffee break.”

“God fully equipped us to serve this city with these skills, even though it didn’t seem like that on the front end,” Sharon says.

Priscilla Coffey is an integral part of the team, and her call mirrors what the Greniers experienced. Coffey attended the University of Valley Forge with the Greniers, and she shared their passion for children’s ministries. Coffey also had worked as a full-time children’s pastor.

“I started to struggle with how little I was able to interact with people who didn’t already know Jesus,” Coffey says. “I started to feel a different calling, that God had more for me.”

Through Coffee Connections, Coffey and the Greniers introduce local residents to Jesus along the way.

“When people ask me what we’re doing, I say we’re church planting in a nontraditional way,” Coffey says.

Coffee Connections has joined The Dwelling Place Church Planting Network. Coffee Connections a parent-affiliated church (PAC) with Capital City Church of Hilliard, Ohio, where Shane Hart is pastor. Now, it is a PAC with the Dwelling Place and has established Hilliard Missional Community in partnership with Hope Church in Plain City.

“We feel like God is activating this,” Sharon says. “It’s been awesome to see how we can use a business to serve a city.”

In June, Coffee Connections took a team to El Salvador to serve on a mission’s trip.

IMAGE - Nate and Sharon are assisted by their daughters: Aunnica, 8; Aliza, 6; Ariella 4; and Adelena 2.

Ana Pierce Elliott

Ana Pierce Elliott is a freelance writer based in Springfield, Missouri.