They were all the topics of conversation in the past month at our new outreach on the University at Buffalo campus called Lifetree Café! First Trinity has hosted a Lifetree Café for about a year and half here at 1570 Niagara Falls Boulevard which has been a blessing to many in our congregation and community. Starting last spring we dreamed of a second location, ideally targeted at reaching out to the thousands of college-aged students in WNY. We wanted not only to be a welcoming congregation, but one who goes out where people are and meets them there.
After months and months of planning and preparation (and a few more months of troubleshooting and re-planning) our second Lifetree Café location officially launched on November 4 at the University of Buffalo – North Campus. Here are a few highlights about the process:
- It is truly a team effort. Our team (hosts, communications team, and friendship team) is made up entirely of young adults and college students all supported by many others here at First Trinity. It can’t happen without the whole team… the doers, the prayers, the financial supporters. We also have partnered with InterVarsity, Lutheran Campus Ministries, and many other ministries on campus to make this a reality. It would not have been possible without these connections. I love to see God’s people working together towards His mission (and I think God loves that too).
- People are coming. While numbers definitely do NOT tell the whole story, they tell a part. We had 12 people the first week, 18 the second, and, despite the crazy snow storm, 11 the third. This does not count an average of 8-10 people each week who wander in and out curious about what’s going on. Even if they don’t stay, we have a chance to interact with them and explain Lifetree Café. I just keep thinking about how many people I, as one person, interact with each Tuesday night that I would never cross paths with any other way. That alone is a reason to do all of this! People are coming AND perhaps more importantly, those who come, enjoy it.
- Conversations are Happening. One night I had a chance to sit at a table with two college students (not Christians) and one man who works with a ministry for international students on campus. Partway through the conversation about the possibility of intelligent life, one of the students asked “so is this a Christian thing?” I had a chance to explain that while Lifetree Café is hosted by a Christian organization, our goal is to provide space for conversation. Rather than being offended or put off, he thought that was “awesome”. His friend then got into a conversation with me about God’s Word and it’s relevance in our lives. He was talking about his grandfather’s faith and the conversations he’s had with his grandfather about the Bible. We were able to have different views on the subject, yet listen to each other and genuinely HEAR the other’s point of view. Just to note: This conversation all came out of one based around whether intelligent life exists on other planets. That’s how Lifetree Café works. It takes the things people are interested in and connects them to real life, and then, to faith. While I don’t think these students walked away with a completely different view on who God is, I think it would be safe to say they enjoyed the conversation and would consider it a positive experience with Christians.
Here are some of the comments left on the comment cards from the past few weeks:
“It’s nice to have discussion.”
“Was fun. Will come again.”
“It was nice, stimulating conversation with people form different backgrounds. Great atmosphere.”
As a team, we would invite you to continue praying for this outreach. Here are some specific requests you can lift up:
- Praise for all God has done already!
- Pray for our team members and college students as they study hard and wrap up their semester of studies.
- Pray for our team to grow and expand with more volunteer next semester.
- Pray for God’s wisdom and guidance for when to start back up in second semester and any changes that need to be made to make it even better than it was these first 5 weeks.
- Pray for all those who would interact with Lifetree Café in some way, that we would be an example of Jesus’ love and hope on the campus.