Feature

Something’s Brewing at Guido’s

Pressed down, shaken together–and overflowing

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The frothing milk hisses and the espresso bar moans as a rich stream of coffee gracefully flows from two spouts and into the waiting cup. Skillful hands grab the steamed liquid and begin to pour. With the final stream of milk the creator begins pouring left to right, creating creamy lines across the surface. Then, as gracefully as an artist stroking his brush against the palette, he raises his hand, creating a perpendicular line down the center of the design. The mocha latte has a delicate leafy pattern floating on its surface.

The drink was not prepared by a busy barista in an impersonal café. Its creator was Guy Pfanz, pastor of one of the most innovative churches in The Alliance. During a conversation with Guy, words like “movement,” “business in ministry,” “internship” and “multiplication center” might surface. To outside ears these words may seem odd, but to members of the church, they stem from a promise that “God wants it more than we do.” This is the conviction that when believers do not stand in God’s way, He will make His will happen no matter the cost or its seeming improbability.

In 1992, when Guy and Judy Pfanz were called to Muncie (Ind.) Alliance Church (MAC), the congregation was struggling to survive. Guy began changing traditions that had kept the church from growing, and only the intervention of the district superintendent kept him from being fired. At a time when Guy couldn’t feel more defeated, God spoke two promises to him: the spider web and the stacked deck.

Using the example of the spider’s inherent ability to spin its masterpiece, the Lord spoke to Guy’s heart, encouraging the pastor to “do what I put within you to do.” Later, God gave Guy the mental image of a stacked deck to express His desire to put the “right people, in the right place, at the right time to build His Church.” Though Guy did not fully understand what that meant, the experience gave him hope to continue at MAC.

Out of financial need, Guy and Judy became bivocational. Long interested in coffee, they bought on faith their first professional-grade espresso bar. Yet that faith was tested when one of their first accounts dropped their business without warning, and the Pfanzes were stuck with an expensive piece of equipment they could not pay for. So, what did they do? They took the machine to the church and used it occasionally to pass out free lattes.

“Occasionally” became “often,” and soon at least one night a week, the coffee bar drew a group of young and free-spirited people who filled the church with music and laughter. Guy began receiving calls to cater, which not only paid for the espresso machine but also led to opportunities to sell and design coffee bars. Guy and Judy then established Guido’s, a coffee equipment and supply business. More importantly, with this new “coffee culture” the church grew, just as God had promised.

And with that growth, the church began taking on a new shape. The possibilities to be innovative and Spirit-led reignited the desire to train and mobilize Christians that had burned in Guy’s heart since he entered the ministry years earlier. Guy saw people hungry to study God’s Word but living in debt, which deterred their ability to attend ministry-training school. What if MAC had its own center to provide a way for students to learn debt free?

With this, the concept of “business in ministry” and “internship” was initiated. If the church could start a viable business and find a way to provide free housing, ministry students could attend classes in the morning and run the business in the afternoons to cover not only personal expenses but also the expenses of the school.

Since Guy was already in the world of coffee, it seemed logical to start a coffee-roasting company. Then, the students could sell those beans to accounts already serviced by Guido’s. The glaring problem was how an understaffed church that could barely meet its weekly budget would be able to house the interns, buy a multi-thousand dollar roaster and cover start-up costs. It seemed crazy, but God assured them He wanted it more than the congregation did, and in a short time—with the assistance of the Alliance Development Fund and an anonymous donor—MAC had the deed to a house and a brand new roaster. With this door open, the ministry internship and Alliance World Coffee (AWC) were born.

As people heard about this “coffee church,” MAC began bursting at the seams, and many individuals were traveling long distances to attend. God began calling men from the congregation to the pastorate. With one of these individuals, MAC launched a church in a neighboring community from which many people where commuting. The plant was successful.

More young men from the internship program were being called to plant churches. As part of their mentorship, these pastors met together once a week to prepare the teaching for that Sunday. But instead of these new churches becoming independent, a movement was ignited. Churches weren’t being “planted”; they were “multiplying.” As a result, thousands of people throughout central Indiana are functioning as one Body, studying God’s Word together chapter by chapter. But only a fraction meets at MAC each Sunday. The rest are spread among seven daughter churches. It all happened because God spoke a promise, and the people of MAC didn’t stand in His way.

Today, the movement continues to grow as people from across the United States and the world join the internship program. Its participants range from college students to young families to middle-aged couples—all of whom have a specific call from God. Some choose to work regular jobs while attending the school, but most work as interns for the church-owned coffee businesses.

When God wants it more than you do, He will produce the desires of your heart. For Guy, this is the call to train and launch people into ministry. “God is sending us people with a calling,” Guy says. As a result, doors are opening to many opportunities, including a coffee shop franchise called Vecinos, work and ministry with coffee farmers around the world and duplication of the movement with an internship and coffee-roasting business in other U.S. locations.

In addition, Guido’s allows Guy and Judy to share MAC’s “coffee culture” with churches, parachurch ministries and independent coffee shops through coffee bar installation and training. Through something as simple as a coffee bean, God is able to create a ripple effect that reaches far beyond central Indiana.

Author’s note: In October 2010 Guy was in a motorcycle accident and sustained injuries that would usually cause paralysis or even death. By God’s hand Guy is healing at a rapid pace with no surgeries or life-threatening repercussions. These events have only strengthened his and the church’s faith that if God wants it more than we do, it will be done.

Let Me See Your License

MAC’s internship is a two-year program. The first year is spent simply in class. During the second year, students begin taking teaching responsibilities. This method has proven to be an effective way to prepare the students for ministry. At the end of the two years, interns have earned the educational requirements necessary for ministerial licensing in the C&MA. Equally rewarding, many leave with a solid understanding of business principles. Some have pursued further education; others have become missionaries, pastors, church planters or church developers—and several coffee shops and roasting companies have evolved as well.

One of MAC’s interns is changing the lives of an entire people group. Kaleb grew up in Thailand, where his parents were international workers, and he did not think he would return to that country. During Kaleb’s internship, God prodded him to work with a people group that lives in a region stretching across Thailand and the surrounding nations. Once he was back in Thailand, Kaleb saw an opportunity to deeply impact the people’s quality of life by teaching them to grow and sell coffee. The community has now planted thousands of coffee plants and soon will be able to sell the raw beans to roasters like AWC. This opportunity offers hope of a tangible way to bring the gospel to areas of the world off-limits to
traditional international workers.

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