Former Drug Addict Taking the Gospel into U.K.Culture

Many a spiritual conversation has been had around the coffee pot in church fellowship halls.

We love the caffeinated drink so much that some churches have even built coffee shops inside their places of worship with separate entrances, hoping to provide a pleasant place for church members to visit with each other while at the same time creating an inviting atmosphere for neighbors.

But Johnny Kinch, a former BBC religious broadcaster, is going a step further. He’s taking the coffee, and ultimately the Good News, to the culture.

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“I think people are curious about faith but they don't want to go to a church building because it’s got so many stereotypes attached to it,” Kinch told the BBC.

Held in coffee shops across the U.K., such as Costa Coffee, Starbucks and Caffe Nero, his events are called “Sunday Night Live” and they are hosted by groups of local Christians who meet once a month. Kinch started SNL in May 2009 with an aim to build a community of people who enjoy coffee, cakes, live music and inspirational speakers with what he calls “a twist of Christian faith.”

“We now have 30 venues across the U.K. providing over 400 live outreach events annually in partnership with over 45 churches nationally and overseas,” Kinch says on the SNL website. “There are plans for another 40 venues to be added this year alone with a national goal of 200 or more. And by 2013 SNL will bring inspiration through music and the gospel message to almost 200,000 people annually.”

Kinch is a former drug and alcohol addict who had a compulsive gambling problem. He spent time in prison and experienced homelessness. In 2004, after another run-in with the police, a friend named Johnnie Cave came over to visit him.

“He told me that he had become a Christian,” recounts Kinch on his website. “I was gobsmacked. If he’d become a woman I would have understood it – but a Christian? I thought it was the most ridiculous thing he could do. I didn’t think much of what he said and asked him to lend me a tenner.”

He went to church with Cave anyway and listened to the pastor speak about redemption. Shortly thereafter, he became a Christian. He chronicled his journey is a book called Johnny be good. Five years later, SNL was born and now he’s reaching out to broken and hurting people because he knows how it feels to be broken and hurt.

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