Stories from the Front Lines – John Steger

By John Steger

What’s open seven days a week that fulfills a need and desire people have? No, this is not some riddle I pulled off the internet; it was one of the most fundamental questions I faced when deciding where and how to plant my church in Minneapolis. The answer to that question was going to be the hub of our ministry.

So the answer? A coffee shop.

The name of our café is Jaur Café, which stands for “just as you are.” It brings people from all walks of life, especially those of which are recovering addicts. People want coffee and muffins, but we are giving them just a little more than that. Not only are we providing them a service, but we are feeding them the gospel and the hope of Jesus. It is a place of refuge and safety; people know they can come here and get prayed for.

Back in 2012, God revealed His calling to me that I was going to be involved in ministry. I just did not know what that looked like. A couple months later, His plan for me started to be unveiled: being a pastor of a church.

One day, my senior pastor at Grace Church went to lunch with me. While at lunch, he pulled out a piece of paper out of the blue and said this is what you’re going to be. He wrote down, “senior pastor—inner-city ministries.” That was three years ago, and now here we are in the city of Minneapolis with our church, Grace in the City, open.

When the calling first came to me, my wife encouraged me to leave my job, where I was making $180,000 a year. She just said, “It’s time for you to quit.” Most wives would not say that, but she stood by me the whole way. And knowing that I had a partner throughout this journey was a big deal for me; you can’t plant a church without someone who is just as dedicated as you.

Three months before Grace in the City opened, while we were immersed in church planting and planning, my wife and I looked at ourselves and said, “Who are we?” God was really working in our lives, and things changed remarkably fast. God wanted us to be deeper with each other, deeper with Him, knowing that we need to trust in Him even more and understand Him more as a couple. Every single church planter goes through the same exact change, it’s the craziest thing in the world. You look at yourself one day and say, “Who are you? Where did you come from?” Church planting leads to a remarkable transformation.

But, to have a church, you have to have members. As a ministry, we go out into the city and participate in Jesus walks, where we share our faith, evangelize, give away food, share our testimonies and just spread the Good News of Christ. Our church is in a pretty unusual situation; normally, the grand opening attendance of a church eventually falls off a good deal, but in our case, it’s actually growing. We have over 50 people a Sunday coming in, and it’s increasing every week.

A lot of this growth has to do with our avenue of ministry being a coffee shop. Since we are open seven days a week, we have a lot of foot traffic, and people start to realize this is a church. When people who just want to buy coffee walk into our shop, they start to notice the ministry coursing through our business. They come to just get coffee, but they get Jesus as well, which leads them to want to know more.

With my wife and I moving just two blocks away from the church in the heart of the city, I want to be at a place where the people walk past me on the streets and say, “Hey pastor, what’s up?” I want them to know that they can come to our church and know that they will be prayed for and that we are here for them. That’s what it’s all about. As people come to realize that, our church will continue to grow and be a place of refuge for the locals in this city.

God called me to minister to people seven days a week, and this is what it looks like. We needed a business where people can hang out and listen to the gospel at any time of the week, so what’s better than sharing Jesus over a cup of coffee

Published October 16, 2017

P.S. Get our best content in your inbox

We send one email per week chock full of articles from a variety of Send Network voices.

John Steger

John Steger is the lead pastor of church plant Grace In the City. He and his wife, Robin, live in Minneapolis and their son Graham attends Indiana University.