“Once you educate the boys, they tend to leave the villages and go search for work in the cities, but the girls stay home, become leaders in the community, and pass on what they’ve learned. If you really want to change a culture, to empower women…the answer is to educate girls.” ~Greg Mortenson
I’m so glad that I’m not alone in a quest to get women around the table again.
Now that I’ve determined CoffeeHouse Chats to be the “One Thing” of Chicks with Choices, I was hoping the passion resonated with others.
No one can develop authentic community alone.
Dorothy Day said, “We have all known the long loneliness and we have learned that the only solution is love and that love comes with community.” Being at the Northwest Women’s Show for the second year in a row reinforced the reality that we’re desperate for connection.
Even as we mingle among thousands, we still yearn for kinship.
What encouraged me greatly was the strong response from women willing to lead the charge! It was incredible to meet so many smiling faces eager to embrace CoffeeHouse Chat Leadership.
I met over twenty women in three days who are inspired to guide their own communities into authentic connections.
Might you be one too?
Following are 5 key questions that provide understanding about CoffeeHouse Chats:
1) Why CoffeeHouse Chats?
Whether we’re willing to admit it or not, the truth is that our current lifestyle pulls us away from authentic relationship. Women have become isolated as they browse for hours in pseudo-connections through social media. We are often left lonely, jealous, anxious, and scattered as we ping-pong between duty and our phone or computer screen.
It only takes one leader at a time to open her home or find a large table in a local coffee shop, bistro, or wine bar where she can lead her uniquely tailored CoffeeHouse Chat.
By choosing availability, she opens the door to authentic community.
The work has been done through tested experience and structured curriculum that acts to guide, while leaving room for individual leadership style and personal story. All that’s needed are women to lead the charge and make a difference one Chat at a time.
2) Who are CoffeeHouse Chats for?
There is a community of women searching for more than just another church activity or bible study. They want an open and authentic opportunity to talk about faith (wherever she may be on that journey) and everyday decisions.
CoffeeHouse Chats are for all kinds of women—church attendee or not, seeker or believer, introvert or extrovert, a professional or stay-at-home mom, divorced or married, young or old. The only thing that needs to be in common is gender and a respect for each individual journey.
3) What is the competition and how are CoffeeHouse Chats different?
This is very important! There is no competition!
Some may want to suggest that CoffeeHouse Chats compete with the typical bible study, but the curriculum is structured much differently. Many churches have a healthy ministry for women that center around bible study. These are of utmost value and as the creator of CoffeeHouse Chats, I would not be who I am today without years of women’s bible study as my foundation. But I have learned over the years that there is a large segment of our population who are missed because certain women will not attend bible study and/or go to church.
CoffeeHouse Chats are also for church going/bible study attending women who want something different or less structured than what the weekly bible study offers. If she is looking to build deeper friendships or bring a group of neighbors together, CoffeeHouse Chats are the perfect alternative to the commitment and depth of many bible studies. As a participant there is no homework and as a leader there is flexibility as to the level of preparation you wish to bring to the Chat experience.
CoffeeHouse Chats are an outreach opportunity.
They bring value and connection for the Chick next door who is dying within her own home because she has little outlet or authentic community surrounding her. She wants to talk about the ideas of faith, but needs a place outside of the church walls to explore.
4) What are CoffeeHouse Chats NOT?
-NOT a place for answers, but a place to join others in a journey toward healthier choices that connects with our feminine soul.
-NOT about the leader, but about the group. Personal discovery and authentic community is the heartbeat and success of the group experience. The leader only guides the group toward this end.
-NOT about answers found prior to group time by way of fill-in-the-blank bible study questions, but an experience that unfolds as personal connection and safety occurs during each Chat.
-NOT a place to be coerced or manipulated into faith. Attendees do not need to be a Christian to attend, nor must they become a Christian in the process. However, CoffeeHouse Chat content is developed through a Christian worldview and there is an expectation that the attendees have an openness to explore the concepts of Christian faith as they relate to everyday decisions.
5) Who can lead a CoffeeHouse Chat?
Although it is not required that a participant be a Christian believer, those who choose to lead a CoffeeHouse Chat are required to have an ongoing, growing relationship with Jesus Christ as their Savior.
Specific church affiliation is not a requirement and as the developer of CoffeeHouse Chats, I cannot control or monitor each leader’s walk with Jesus (I will trust God with that), but it will be required for leaders who purchase curriculum to read through and agree with my Statement of Faith before proceeding.
It will also be important for leaders to bring awareness to their Chats that they are representing the overarching brand and reputation of Chicks with Choices. Integrity in this is highly valued and I appreciate your sincerity on this end.
Having said all that, the personality, leadership style, and uniqueness or each individual leader is what excites me the most about CoffeeHouse Chat leadership.
I desire nothing more than for you to use this opportunity to grow as a leader, take risks and make CoffeeeHouse Chats your own! You have a unique story to tell and I have purposefully formatted CoffeeHouse Chats with an understanding that you will use as many opportunities as you can to allow God to use your story to affect and encourage others.
Are you still questioning if you have what it takes to lead? Allow me to ask these questions:
~Are you kind?
~Are you a good mix between an introvert (won’t “take over” or control a group) and an extrovert (strong enough to challenge your participants in their walk)?
~Have you come to terms with you own struggles where you are able to share them from a place of healing with you group? In other words, you’re comfortable being flawed, but completely loved by Jesus and will not look to the group to bring you value.
~Do you spend quiet time alone with God on a regular basis?
~Are you just fearful enough in your leadership abilities that you’re not sure you can do this, but there is still something deep within that drives you toward bravery?
The perfect CoffeeHouse Chats leader is the woman who isn’t perfect (and please don’t think you have to answer “yes” to all the above questions).
She knows this fact which keeps her on her knees. She understands the grace God is given in her own life and is able to extend that grace toward others. She knows that Jesus has made her perfect because of His sacrifice which also fuels a burning desire to share His love with others. She trusts Jesus with her participants and understands that it is only through His Spirit that we come to a saving knowledge of Jesus, not through manipulation or coercion.
How satisfying to grow and share your own journey, while helping another discover the unique path she was always meant to live!
This is a lot of information in one blog, I know! Come back to it later if you’re still not sure about your role in CoffeeHouse Chat Leadership. But I will encourage you not to ignore a nudge in your spirit that won’t go away.
Have I failed to answer all your questions? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’d be happy to answer any question that still remains. But also know that I’m holding a free training seminar in Bellevue, Washington on April 26th. Reservations are required and space is limited (plus filling up fast), so please email me if interested.
Allow me also to address interested participants looking for a CoffeeHouse Chat to attend. As this develops, my vision is to add a feature to my website where you’d be able to enter your zip code and find the nearest Chat in your area. Obviously, this will take time. Until then, however, feel free to email me at the above address. I can keep a written list (old school) and let you know when a Chat opens in your area.
Finally, for interested leaders out the the greater Seattle area, I have not forgotten you! Another feature I will be adding to my website and online store are frequent webinar opportunities. Again, this will take time to develop, but it’s coming! Until then, I have great confidence in your unique ability to lead. The curriculum is tailored to assist you, but give you room to fly through your own journey. If you want to start now, take a leap! The flight is just one choice away.
Photo credit: Flickr (Creative Commons)