Fast Coffee-Slow Food

medium_6968187518There are many cultural differences between the U.S. and Italy. We lived in Italy for five years. One notable difference is the importance of relationships in Italy and how they are conducted. I call it the “fast coffee/slow food” connection. Most people realize that in the U.S. we have developed a “slow coffee/fast food” culture. Over the past 50 years Americans have moved towards a fragmented family and a dietary nightmare called “fast food”. Meals are taken as quickly as possible or only for strategic purposes. Thus why families rarely eat together and the invention of the “power lunch.” But over the past 10 years and the advent of Starbucks we have also begun to develop a “slow coffee” culture. The coffee shop mentality has returned in the U.S. This is often where we catch up with people, even our children at times. The follow up to the power lunch has become the “power coffee” appointment. Yet I have to admit that Starbucks can be quite loud and distracting. While I really enjoy their coffee, the very environment can threaten my ability to really connect at a deeper level.

In Italy they do the opposite. There are caffe bars on almost every corner. They are small, often with only a counter bar. You enter, you order your espresso or cappuccino, you pay, and you leave. The whole experience may take less than five minutes. Ah, but meals, that is a very different story. There is “riposo.” This is a pause from work for a two to three hour lunch. And the evening meal often lasts two to three hours also. Italians take their food and their meals very seriously. Meals are done in a very particular order for dietary purposes. Every region has its own specialties that are not to be missed.

But more than that, life is done around the table.

Relationships are nurtured around the table.

The largest room in our 800 year old home was the dining room.

You take acquaintances and colleagues to coffee.

You have meals with your true friends and family.

The home and the dinner table are sacred.

We noticed that doing ministry in Italy requires trust and time. Italy can be a suspicious, non trusting culture, and for some historically good reasons. But we have also noticed that the walls drop and trust is built in the home around the dining room table. Conversations go much deeper and spiritual truth is better received around the table. While Italians are certainly known for loud, boisterous conversations, there is an inescapable focus that takes place. There is one conversation, even if five people are having it at the same time. We rarely conducted ministry events during those days without food and a home setting.

I know a lot of ministry happens in Starbucks these days in the U.S. But I wonder how much of it is truly effective in terms of building a relationship of trust. I think I like the “fast coffee/slow food” environment of Italy better. For one, the food is amazing, but so are the opportunities to take time to demonstrate the love of Christ.

Invest in someone over a long, slow meal!

(photo credit)

Homelanders: The Next Generation

I saw this from Tim Elmore on the differences in the coming generation that we will work with and seek to reach-some very interesting observations-read and see what you think.

Already, I meet parents and teachers who ask the question: What can we expect from the new generation of kids-the ones born after the Millennial Generation or Generation Y?

According to most social scientists, Generation Y births ended between 2000 and 2002. This means that kids in elementary school now are from a new generation. Two leading generational experts, Howe and Strauss, have already coined the term: Homelanders. They are earth’s newest generation. This name seems to fit since their first year (2003) was about the same time America gave birth to the Department of Homeland Security. They were born into a different world than previous generations, and are the first generation born in the 21st century. Because their early world is marked by terrorism, a troubled economy and a savvy, almost jaded social climate, they may not embrace the optimism of the early Millennials. In fact, below is my first attempt at contrasting the Homelanders with Generation Y. It is still early, but these are the marks we see in them, as we work with primary-aged kids and observe how parents, culture and schools have shaped them.

Our work with these young students may require us to develop a new set of skills and a new level of emotional intelligence. They may need to hear different words of encouragement. They may need to be pushed to take risks and believe in the future more than their earlier counterparts did. While the world is still at their fingertips and communication with others globally is immediately available, this new batch of kids will approach life a bit more cautiously and safely. They’ll be forced to be more calculated and pragmatic in their planning. They may be compelled to grow up faster than the “postponed” Millennials before them. With this in mind, observe these young children and see what you conclude about the habits forming in their lives. Let’s lead them well.

Tim Elmore

What People Do and Do Not Believe in

Here is a reprint off of the AP news wire-very interesting reading and implications.

NEW YORK–(BUSINESS WIRE)–A new Harris Poll finds that the great majority (82%) of American adults believe in God, exactly the same number as in two earlier Harris Polls in 2005 and 2007. Large majorities also believe in miracles (76%), heaven (75%), that Jesus is God or the Son of God (73%), in angels (72%), the survival of the soul after death (71%), and in the resurrection of Jesus (70%).

Less than half (45%) of adults believe in Darwin’s theory of evolution but this is more than the 40% who believe in creationism.

These are some of the results of The Harris Poll® of 2,303 adults surveyed online between November 2 and 11, 2009 by Harris Interactive®.

The survey also finds that:

61% of adults believe in hell;

61% believe in the virgin birth (Jesus born of Mary);

60% believe in the devil;

42% believe in ghosts;

32% believe in UFOs;

26% believe in astrology;

23% believe in witches

20% believe in reincarnation – that they were once another person.

None of these numbers have changed much since previous surveys in 2005 and 2007.

Religious Differences

There are very big differences between the beliefs of Catholics, Protestants, born-again Christians and Jews.

Catholics are more likely than all adults to believe in: God (94% compared to 82%); heaven (86% vs. 75%); that Jesus is God or the Son of God (90% vs. 73%); angels (83% vs. 72%); the survival of the soul after death (82% vs. 71%); the resurrection of Jesus Christ (87% vs. 70%); hell (70% vs. 61%); and the virgin birth (by 74% vs. 61%).

Catholics are also somewhat more likely than all adults to believe in Darwin’s theory of evolution (51% vs. 45%).

Protestants are also more likely to believe in God (92%), %); that Jesus is God or the Son of God (91%); heaven (90%); angels (88%); the resurrection of Jesus (88%); miracles (87%); the survival of the soul (85%); the virgin birth (79%); the devil (77%) and hell (73%).

But Protestants are much less likely than all adults to believe in Darwin’s theory of evolution (32%), ghosts (33%); astrology (20%); and reincarnation (13%). They are more likely than all adults to believe in creationism (56% vs. 40%).

Born-again Christians are much more likely than Catholics or all Protestants to believe in God (97%); heaven (97%); the Resurrection (97%); miracles (95%); angels (95%); the virgin birth (92%); the survival of the soul (91%); hell (89%); and the devil (89%).

Born-again Christians are also much more likely to believe in creationism (68%), and much less likely to believe in Darwin’s theory of evolution (16%).

Jews are, of course, very unlikely to believe in the basic elements of Christianity. They are also less likely than all adults to believe in miracles (63%); heaven (48%); the survival of the soul (37%); angels (36%); hell (21%); and the devil (7%).

Jews are by far the most likely to believe in Darwin’s theory of evolution (80%) and the least likely to believe in creationism (20%). They are also less likely than all adults to believe in ghosts (10% vs. 42%), UFOs (20% vs. 32%), astrology (19% vs. 26%); and witches (8% vs. 23%).

So what?

Two “big picture” findings are worth noting:

Many people consider themselves Christians without necessarily believing in some of the key beliefs of Christianity. However, this is not true of born-again Christians.

In addition to their religious beliefs, large minorities of adults, including many Christians, have “pagan” or pre-Christian beliefs such as a belief in ghosts, astrology, witches and reincarnation.