It’s Sunday morning. You’ve indulged in the snooze button one too many times. You’re running late for church, and now you have two options. Option 1: skip your coffee run and risk falling asleep during the morning prayer. Option 2: stop for coffee, show up late, and take the walk of shame to the only open seats, which are of course in the front row.
That is, unless you go to Beacon Heights Church of the Brethren in Ft. Wayne, IN.
The Dunker Punks at Beacon Heights have started a “Dunker Punks Cafe,” to serve church members free coffee before Sunday school. It’s a simple operation, just coffee and a few other hot beverages served from a window between the church kitchen and fellowship hall. But like the best things Dunker Punk, it’s a small act that’s going a long way.
The other day, I spoke with Beacon Heights youth leader Megan Sutton and learned more about the Dunker Punks Cafe. I was excited and amazed to hear about the impact that this ministry is already having in the congregation and in the local community. But perhaps the biggest impact is on the Dunker Punks themselves.
The impact that this ministry has within the church is pretty straightforward. “It’s a way for our youth to connect with the congregation,” Megan said. The Dunker Punks at Beacon Heights know that the best way to connect with others is to serve them. That’s what Jesus always did.
Service at the cafe is completely free, but congregation members are encouraged to give a freewill donation. Every few months, the Dunker Punks will take the donations that they’ve collected and give them to a local charity organization. Even selecting which charities to give to is a chance for the Beacon Heights Dunker Punks to grow as followers of Jesus. According to Megan, they take the time to research every charity that they consider, trying to find links between the service that that organization provides and Jesus’ teachings.
This process isn’t just to find the best use of the Dunker Punks’ hard earned money. It’s also a chance for them to find other opportunities to go out and serve the community. After they’ve found a charity that they like, the Dunker Punks at Beacon Heights are encouraged to volunteer.
Though the Dunker Punks Cafe was only launched in September, it’s already been a huge success. Megan has been especially happy at how every member of the Beacon Heights youth group has been able to find their own niche in the project. “Our youth group is pretty small, but we have a very diverse group in terms of age.” Megan told me, “We wanted to find a project that youth of various ages and maturity levels could come together and enjoy.”
For that to happen, Megan said that they needed to think outside the box. “Before NYC, we already knew that we wanted to make a change, but we were thinking something along the lines of a new curriculum or resources or teacher. Inside the box thinking.” After NYC and the beginning of the Dunker Punks movement, the Beacon Heights youth began to realize that they needed an active, service oriented ministry. They returned from NYC jazzed up, excited, and ready to think outside the box.
“NYC provided a lot of fuel,” said Megan. She worked with her youth to develop the idea for the Dunker Punks Cafe, and she continues to provide support, but it is their ministry. “They run it. They have taken off with it,” she said. They are learning as they go. Not just about running a successful ministry, but about following Jesus and putting his teachings into practice by serving like Jesus.
I asked Megan how she thinks this project relates to the Dunker Punks movement. It “equips them to be leaders.” she said, “Rather than just talking about making a difference, they are going out and actually doing it.”
A big part of the Dunker Punks movement is about youth discovering that they can make an impact. Megan believes that her youth are learning exactly that. She said she wants the Beacon Heights Dunker Punks to reflect on the impact that they’re having and wonder, “What can they do when they are older and have more resources?” Then, she corrected herself, “In fact, what broader impact can they have right now? They are experiencing that they can do it.”
The theme of NYC was “Called by Christ, Blessed for the Journey Together.” This goes back to what Megan said about each of the Beacon Heights Dunker Punks finding a niche in the project. She said that they are all “finding and exploring a calling.” Each is taking action and doing something that they enjoy, all while serving the congregation and community. If they haven’t found the part of the project that they enjoy yet, they will. They’ll think outside of the box. They’ll get creative. They’ll get radical. It’s what Dunker Punks do. “It’s really cool to watch,” said Megan.
Emmett Eldred is a sophomore Creative Writing; Professional Writing; and Ethics, History, and Public Policy Major at Carnegie Mellon University. His passions include reading about, writing about, and snuggling with pugs. Emmett is the founder of DunkerPunks.com, and he wants lots more people to contribute! Fill out a Dunker Punks profile, and join the conversation! Follow Emmett on twitter @emmetteldred and follow Dunker Punks on Twitter @DunkerPunks and on Facebook.