Maybe I look like someone’s grandmother. Or, “warm is the new cool,” they say, so maybe being in love with folks in the Millennial generation does it. Maybe a coffee shop is this century’s saloon? Regardless, I’ve learned a lot about the upcoming generations at coffee shops simply by asking questions!

When you’re older, like me, if you want to know what young people think about important issues, you’ve really got to ask them – they’ll seldom make the connection first. So, going to a coffee shop is a good place to “pick up information” on what they think, especially if I am willing to buy a round of the outrageously expensive Caffienalia (new made-up word) they are drinking! I like to frequent places near colleges or universities, but probably any coffee house will do.

Here’s what I say to a group that doesn’t seem preoccupied with work on their computers: “I’ll buy a round of what you are drinking if you will let me ask you one question and we discuss it.” Typically, they ask, “Are you a market researcher?” And I say, “I’m doing some research.” And they say, “Sure.” And I pay up!

Then I instruct one person to answer at a time and ask them this question: “What is the world’s biggest problem?”

Guess what they say? Yep, they say, “war,” “racism,” “violence,” “people who think they can control other people,” “hate,” “global warming,” and “poverty.” And then someone might ask, “Why are you asking that question?” IF they ask, I say:

“All those things are terrible problems, I agree. If you were ranking them, probably some of you would put one or another first. But the entire Judeo/Christian truth on which our civilization is based does not accept that any of those are the world’s biggest problem. They are symptoms of the world’s biggest problem. Thanks so much for answering my question. Enjoy your coffee!”

And then, one of them will usually (not always) ask, “Well, what’s the world’s biggest problem in your opinion?”

“That individually, and collectively as people, all over the world, we prefer to rely on our own limited understanding as we live, rather than accepting the free gift of wisdom, love, and peace that the God of the Bible offers us. So, instead, we live at a terrible disadvantage every day. We actually believe a war can be won, permanently. That poverty can be overcome. That in ourselves we can eliminate racism and violence. All the historical evidence to the contrary makes no difference to us. We trust ourselves. Not God. So, we leave Him out of our lives and, thereby, eliminate the One who actually can overcome these things. That is the world’s biggest problem IMO.” 

Sometimes the conversation continues, and sometimes not, but, after all, God goes before, so I just leave it up to Him. Sometimes there is someone who knows Christ there. A few times the conversation went the way of the gospel. Who knows…maybe you will talk with one of these folks one day and they will have heard something that stuck.