Tuesday, May 19, 2009

The Slide into American Evangelicalism Part CDXVII

Thanks to the Lutheran Witness, those of you outside the gravitational pull of Zion on the Mississippi have now been introduced to Crave/Christ in the City.

Sigh. Where to begin?

Gottesdienst is a journal of the Evangelical Lutheran Liturgy. Crave is a coffee house/worship center dedicated to the proposition that no such thing need exist, and is probably counter-productive. It's been quite controversial amongst the area clergy. Why? Well, I wasn't kidding when I called it a coffee house/worship center. Kind of like how Optimus Prime* is both a robot and a semi truck. To wit:

Crave-St. Louis: Coffee shop. But turn around 180 degrees....

....and move the tables and voila - C2 worship center.

This is the former Christ Evangelical Lutheran Church in the Gate District neighborhood of St. Louis. The congregation was running down, so a group of local Lutherans decided to reinvigorate the parish and reach out to the community. They decided to do this by remodeling the inside of the sanctuary to serve as a coffee house, which could also serve for worship. One can clearly see the outlines of the old chancel and altar area above. If the photo above leads you to think that that is still what that area is used for, you would be wrong. Very wrong. The actual movable altar-table is set off to the Gospel side of the bandstand, as can be seen in a picture which now hangs in Wyneken Hall on CSL's campus - and which, alas, I cannot find online. But I could find their mission statement:

Don't worry, as the vision and values continue they found ways to get in all the Lutheran buzzwords.

"Fully caffeinated disciples" - get it? 'Cause it's a coffeehouse and a church.

The coffee shop/congregation advertises coffee during the weekdays, worship on Saturday at 5:30pm, and is closed on Sunday. I am not making that up. Seriously.

So....that's Crave/Christ in the City/C2. I think you can see why that might be a little controversial. But now it has the imprimatur of the Lutheran Witness, so nevermind.

And what review would be complete without a quotation from a someone who has experienced the place first hand?

"So, I don't usually get this way, but tonight's worship service was amazing. It really connected. It convicted me about a few things, the gospel was there and alive. The energy was good-- I don't know, John and Tony were perfect. Tony's class deserves a lot of credit. I was in the band, so I can't say this, but the music was top-notch. I've got afterglow from this one."

Same Synod, different worlds.


* Latin for "Mason Beecroft."


  1. Sadly, in my misspent days of Sem II I helped gut that beautiful church for its 'revitalization.' Father forgive me, I had no idea what I was doing.

    Yes the Lutheran Witness has endorsed it. But the seminary has had its hands all over Christ in the City for years now, with one professor guiding their field workers and vicars personally. If this is the direction our future pastors are being pushed, is there any hope for Missouri?

  2. "To crave" is to have a "stong desire" for something. It is obviously a play on the fact that caffeine is an addictive drug.

    "Strongly desiring" is rendered into
    Latin (the language of Mason Beecroft) as "concupiens" (coveting) - a form of the verb: "concupisco" (to covet), which is the how St. Jerome often renders the Greek word "epithumeo" (to lust) - the noun form of which: "epithumia" is sometimes translated as "passion" - a hackneyed and politically correct word used by those with unorthodox evangelism techniques and worship styles.

    So, I suppose the name "Crave" is fitting. It's all about "passion" and "covetousness" and "lust."

    Any bets on how long it takes the LCMS to create churches/businesses named after *the other six* deadly sins? Maybe a Lutheran fast food joint/preaching station called "Gluttony!(tm) or a "Christian luxury car dealership/drive through communion center" called "Envy!(tm)."

    With the LCMS, the sky's the limit!

  3. I thought my name was related to Bumblebee... at least this is what my six-year son told me.

    Anyway, my missional dream is to make slightly buzzed disciples by offering beer and creating an inquisitorial atmosphere that seeks to root out all heterodoxy and heresy by any means necessary.

    Perhaps it is time for us to establish our own order of Jesuits, except that we would be Christians and all.
    +Mason Beecroft (Optimus Prime)

  4. Sir,

    I made up the words "Mason Beecroft" - no one is actually named that. That would be absurd.

    But I am glad you like the blog - please subscribe to our fine print journal. You will have to use your real name to have it mailed to you.


  5. I, for one am not a bit surprised by this. The typical bait and switch technique. If we can get them in under false pretense, then slowly give them some good old gospel the way the want to hear it, then they will become ABLAZED and join the Lutheran Church (LC-MS of course).

    What is really being said and demonstrated by this practice is that God's Word is not good enough, we have to sweeten it up so that people will come to hear it. We have to make it pleasing so that they will want to hear it. Is that not the same thing as saying, God's Word is insufficient to do what He promises it will do.

    I would love to join Mason over a few stout Lutheran beverages with some Luther, Gerhard, Chemnitz, Krauth, etc. Suck the marrow out of tired, true, and real doctrine.

    The Lord be with you all.

  6. I am Mason the Bee Croft (Mason the keeper of bees, specifically the mason bee, Osmia lignaria). Will Osmia Lignaria work if addressed to a PO Box?

    And I will drive 500 miles for a stout Lutheran beverage...
    Will McCain Preus

  7. I have words. They are from St. Paul and should be nailed to the door of that joint:

    "What? Do you not have houses to eat and drink in? Or do you despise the Church of God and shame them that have not? What shall I say to you? Shall I praise you? I shall not."
    1 Corinthians 11:22

  8. The "Lust Church" article is one of a series of articles about pastoral education. Missing from the articles? The seminaries.
    That says more about the problems of our synod than any of the individual articles themselves.

  9. Nah, Pr. Weedon, nailing that passage to the door wouldn't phase 'em. They'd just nail St. Paul's words, "I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some" (1 Cor. 9:22b), on top.

    I swear, you confessional Lutheran types need to get with the times. Expand your horizons a bit, would ya? What could possibly be wrong with having a little coffee with your Jesus? Are you fellas against becoming all things to all people in order to win some, or what? Don't you know there's people dying without Jesus out there? If it takes feeding their caffeine addiction to save them, so be it!

    In the words of DPS, "You guys neither know the Scriptures nor the power therein!"

  10. Have any of the critics been there? Do you know Pastor John Rathje? Do any of you get out of your little offices and actually touch prostitutes, addicts, homeless and the like. Are you aware of the impact Crave is having at St. Louis University? NO? Just stone throwing again. Yeah that's what somebody wanted to do to an adultress that Jesus was interested in saving. Look in the mirror o stone throwers. Crave doesn't think the gospel needs any help, Crave thinks the gospel should be let out of it's wagon-circling cage. BTW-Yes I've been there.

    Craig Britton

  11. Dear Caydab:

    I can't speak for anyone else here, but if you want to see the neighborhood I live in, do a Google map of Salem Lutheran Church in Gretna, Louisiana. I live right around the corner.

    I'd love to know how many drug addicts and homeless prostitutes are sipping lattes and texting each other at these upscale wannabe Starbucks suburban pseudo-churches.

    Is the coffee free at Crave? Or do the all the hookers and drug dealers who frequent the place have to pay cash? Didn't our Lord tell us not to turn His house into a "house of merchandise"?

    People need Jesus, the Gospel, and the sacraments - not another corporate franchise, and not another photo-op for suburban yuppies to think they're doing real ministry before they get back in the BMW and head back to their gated communities.

    Crave is another disgraceful fad that tells the world we really don't really believe in the Christian faith.

    Of your "church" has a cash register in the sanctuary, it is a restaurant, not a church.

    I have a lot of atheist friends who will not come to the faith because they are turned off by this kind of corporate crap. It's a bait-and-switch kind of salesmanship evangelism that is as genuine as a telemarketer on a script. It's phony, and people can sniff it out a mile away.

  12. I'm Pastor John Rathje - give me a call, or stop by sometime...you can get our information from the above referenced website (www.cravestl.org).
    May God guide you.


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