There’s no shortage of theological gridlock within the church today over myriad weighty issues, but pastor and theologian John Piper recently ignited discourse on a relatively unexpected topic: gulping down coffee during church services.
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Piper posted a short message on X Sept. 30, seemingly casting doubt on whether it’s appropriate to caffeinate in the sanctuary — and it sparked quite the back-and-forth.
“Can we reassess whether Sunday coffee-sipping in the sanctuary fits?” Piper wrote, before adding text from Hebrews 12:28. The Scripture reads, “Let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe.”
Can we reassess whether Sunday coffee-sipping in the sanctuary fits?— John Piper (@JohnPiper) September 30, 2023
“Let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe.” Hebrews 12:28
The post sparked over 2,800 likes, 1,025 shares, and a multitude of responses from people who agree drinking coffee during services is suspect — and those who openly shared they consume soda, water, or other beverages while watching pastors sermonize.
It was a surprising debate, yet one that yielded passionate takes from both sides.
Regardless of opinions on the matter, Fox News noted some denominations require or urge adherents to fast before taking the Eucharist, meaning drinking coffee during mass or services is technically frowned upon in some circles.
“Current canon law requires a one-hour fast before receiving Communion,” Catholic Answers explains, citing Canon 919, which reads: “One who is to receive the Most Holy Eucharist is to abstain from any food or drink, with the exception only of water and medicine, for at least the period of one hour before Holy Communion.” There’s a deeper history on the matter, which you can read here.
But many other denominations have no official rule on the matter, with Piper’s X post somehow motivating both sides of the divide to think more deeply about the matter.
“YOU BRING COFFEE INTO CHURCH?” Sarah St. Onge responded, expressing surprise over those who drink joe from the pews. “I have so many questions.”
St. Onge said coffee in the sanctuary seems so “out of place” — and she wasn’t alone. John Wylie added his belief there are simply other more appropriate times during which one can consume coffee.
One of the many things I appreciate about Eastern Orthodoxy and the safeguards she brings to the Church.— John Wylie (@johnwylie) October 1, 2023
Liturgy is all about God and our worship of Him. Coffee can be enjoyed any other time of the week. Sunday mornings are a sacred time where we meet and worship the Trinity.
“One of the many things I appreciate about Eastern Orthodoxy and the safeguards she brings to the Church,” he wrote. “Liturgy is all about God and our worship of Him. Coffee can be enjoyed any other time of the week. Sunday mornings are a sacred time where we meet and worship the Trinity.”
But others took a different view. An X user, Pragmatic J, offered a unique take after speaking with her husband, an ordained preacher.
“I just asked my husband, an ordained Protestant minister, for his official position,” she said, before sharing his quote: “I wouldn’t do it myself, but I certainly would not hector SOMEONE FOR WHOM CHRIST DIED over it.”
And Jason Lewis was among those who said coffee is actually helpful to people trying to hear and discern the message being delivered.
“Well, YOU can. But I don’t feel convicted about that at all,” he wrote. “Getting [four] kids to church on time is hard enough. I feel free to have as much coffee as I need to listen and hear the Word.”
Well, YOU can. But I don't feel convicted about that at all.— Jason J. Lewis✝️ (@TheJLew) October 2, 2023
Getting 4 kids to church on time is hard enough. I feel free to have as much coffee as I need to listen and hear the word.
Others made the point that coffee, tea, and other drinks and foods are actually part of community and do have a place when people gather, even in the sanctuary.
Author and speaker Beth Moore even got in on the debate, delivering a message directly to Piper.
“Brother John, I think you’d like us Anglicans,” she wrote. “Ain’t nobody walking into service with no coffee. We’d receive you gladly.”
You can read the full debate here.
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