I’m sitting in the Treehouse. It’s a coffeeshop in Audubon, NJ owned by an acquaintance of mine (who also happens to be a youth minister at a nearby baptist church). I come here every other Thursday to write my sermon, drink coffee, and perhaps get a tasty morsel. It’s always a good time. There are times, however, when I’m speaking with other pastors about my “coffice hours” that I get the distinct impression that I’m not “doing it right.” I couldn’t disagree more, and I’d like to take the time to explain why.
First, the sense of community is palpable at the Treehouse. Everyone knows Randy and Tina (the owners), loves their children, and has a general awareness on what’s going on in each other’s lives. I’ve had conversations with a group of gentlemen who sit around and talk sports, pastors from other denominations, parents who come to let their children play, and have even been enlisted to read a book for a group of kids who held up a book and gazed at me with pleading eyes. I’m an introvert at heart, but the welcoming atmosphere is energizing. The silence of my office, however, can get a bit oppressive at times. I find both spaces useful for different purposes (I tend to brainstorm in my office), but prefer the more fluid environment. Being an introvert with ADD can lead to all sorts of logical conflicts.
Second, my office isn’t really a space at all – it’s my tools. As long as I have phone and my iPad or MacBook I’m at my office. Most people who contact me do so through e-mail or text-message. The people who tend to call me either call my house (and then I get the message e-mailed to me) or my GoogleVoice number. I experienced my oficeless office again yesterday when I took a member to a medical appointment. As I waited in the lobby I took out my iPad and wrote my sermon notes out in the Olive Tree reader (then I copied them to Accordance – it’s easier to read them as a running commentary in that app). By the time the appointment was over, I had completed the task I set for myself on Wednesday. In addition to completing my normal task, however, I was also able to complete a pastoral visit with someone who really needed one. If my tools were located in one space, I would have been able to accomplish only one of these tasks, and felt uncomfortable over what I hadn’t been able to do.
Third, during my “coffice hours” I get to work around other people who are in the same boat I’m in. We do our separate work – but we also swap stories, give and receive counsel, and enjoy each other’s company. In other words, in a vocation often steeped in much loneliness, we gain back some of the benefits of working in a collaborative setting. We each have our own goals for the morning which are related to our different congregations, but we are strengthened knowing someone else is nearby, should we feel the need to have someone to talk with. This is good for our souls, and because we’re doing “typical work” it avoids the trap of being yet another appointment jammed into an already crowded schedule,
So, if you happen to be free on some Thursday morning stop by at the Treehouse, we just might be there waiting.