Remember when coffee-shops were the utterly coolest thing in missional evangelism? This link from Jordon provoked me to think, “What about if ultra-innovative missonal evangelists, instead of starting (or inhabiting) coffee shops, started congregations in laundries?” Large numbers of people have to go; it gives you an hour or so in which to have deep thoughts and spiritual conversation; you could bring along quarters and laundry detergent to share/exchange. I think it has real cool-Jesus cachet; but I’ll bet someone else has already thought of it.
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I’ll ignore the dry wit (although I wish I had thought of it).
I have been mulling the idea over and over for our shelter when we move to a new building. The idea of a public shower/laundry/third space for urban poor (we offer those services but our layout makes it almost impossible to offer them to the public and keep other residents safe).
In a poor inner city neighborhood where I work, it would provide a big service (and help with the hording of clothes people do because they don’t have access to laundromats which leads to homelessness).
It’s one of those things that Wendy and I take for granted. There is a used appliance dealer down the street from work and he sells good washers for $125 plus free delivery (and he hauls away our old one to fix and sell if he can). It has never struck me as much money and it makes the decision to fix it easy math. Yet when we looked at probably 50 duplexes and fourplexes when looking for a possible location for the women’s shelter, the majority of suites we looked at would have laundry piled several feet think in many of the rooms as they would go to free clothing depots to get new clothes instead of washing their old ones.
I don’t think we were thinking of a service but have some time to talk with staff, grab a coffee, and figure out life a bit.
They do something like this in Seattle – http://www.urbanreststop.org
While I am not sure if a congregation based around laundry services would work (although there are bars/laundromats around), showers and free laundry in existing churches sure makes a lot of sense to me.