Rebekah Moffett, Communications Officer, speaks to Dominic Muir, lead pastor and overseer of a new church ministry in Yeovil, bringing more than just coffee and cake to its local community, providing people with the real Bread of Life.
It’s easy to see an increasing hostility to the gospel message in this day and age, in our nation – particularly when the ‘gospels’ of comfort, individuality, instancy, consumerism are all around us. What room is there for the gospel of Christ?
In Acts 17, in Athens, Paul wanders around the city’s marketplace, seeing false ‘gospels’ – idols – all around him. But rather than shy away from an obviously hostile environment, he subverts the Athenians’ false gospels, showing them how they’ve turned a good thing on its head, and then pointing them to the true, living God. This true and living God is actually the answer to everything they’ve been searching for – but they’ve been looking in all the wrong places.
This account of culture sounds somewhat familiar. And it’s been exciting to find out what different churches across the country are doing to bring the truth of the gospel to their own communities – showing people the true source of the fulfilment they seek.
Not long ago, I spoke to Clyde Thomas, lead pastor of a church in Cwmbran, to find out how their grocery store has been blessing the community with the good news of the gospel. Now, Dominic Muir tells me of a new project he’s heading up in Yeovil, Somerset, to bring the gospel to a community that’s been looking for answers in all the wrong places.
Good news, good brews
Take a walk around Yeovil town centre, and you’re bound to pass a new coffee shop, Bread. On the outside, it might just look like another cool café, but this is one café with a different, deeper mission.
John 6:35 says:
“Then Jesus declared, ‘I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.’”
Bread aims not only to feed people physically, but spiritually as well, with the only one who can really quench our spiritual hunger. Its website explains:
“At the foundation … we are a community of people who have been beautifully touched by God. In this community built on the life and teaching of Jesus every woman, man, girl and boy – every age, every race – can find a home in God. A home where they belong. God has made us a family, and we want to be a community that operates as a family.
“… Our mission is to bring gospel outreach, radical discipleship and 24/7 prayer and worship to dark, broken and dying high streets and people across the land. To couch all of the above within excellent coffee shops. Good brews and good news.”
You might recognise Dominic and his wife Thea from the various different projects they’ve been involved in over the years. Dominic ran a church on the streets of London’s red light district for seven years. He has also authored a discipleship course, along with two books, led missionary teams across the world, and heads up various ministries, including Now Believe, Jesus Fields, and Returning Sons. His wife Thea also oversees their business and ministry I Am So Many Things.
Watch more from Thea below (you can watch the full video on YouTube):
However, after receiving a word from God that the couple would plant churches in the region they lived in (Somerset), a new project and vision started coming together, with other couples and families getting involved.
Dominic is clear about what led him to set up Bread, and exactly where he wants to see it go.
Dominic, thank you for speaking to us about this exciting new project, Bread, in Yeovil. What was the inspiration behind setting up a coffee shop in the centre of town? Why did you go down that route, given it seems so different to your other projects?
The inspiration came from, on one level, the prophetic word about planting a church. The second part of the journey was basically needing to be inspired as to what that church would look like, because honestly, I didn’t really want to just plant what I too easily imagine a church to look like: some sort of building with a carpark in a town.
On one afternoon, my friend Rick and I were wondering through Yeovil doing a bit of shopping. I was picking up some colouring pencils for my children in The Works. But in the middle of the shop was a stand advertising their ‘best-selling books’. And on that stand, it was full of books on the occult and witchcraft, spells, divination, you name it. I was shocked. This is a national franchise, a trusted family store. I couldn’t believe that they were selling these books – not as fringe books, but as best sellers.
I brought it up with the shop manager, but we pretty much got ejected from the shop – not from anything we’d done wrong – but because we really did warn and caution the selling of these books. It was an earnestness that essentially offended this woman. She asked us to leave, so we left.
But as I walked out into the high street in Yeovil, I was angry. This is not OK that this is happening, that people can just wander in and just pick up these books. There’s a verse in Acts 17 where it says that Paul was ‘provoked’ at the idolatry. That’s what I was experiencing. A jealousy for God’s people in Yeovil.
So I told Rick, we need to get a place in Yeovil. We need to have a place on the High Street, we need to have a shop people can walk into and access Jesus, access the Kingdom, really easily.
From then on, I began talking about planting a church on the High Street, next to Costa and WH Smith. I wanted it to be a place where people can just wander in and encounter Jesus Christ.
We realised that we needed to be far more accessible to this generation, who are not thinking about going to a church building on a Sunday. Religion is kind of off the cards for this generation; they want shops, they want community, they want coffee – they want the third space environment. Starbucks was coined the ‘third space’, the first place being home, the second being work, the third space used to be the pubs in our land. That’s less so now – it’s really the coffee shop.
That was the main push for Bread and the coffee shop idea. We, as a Church, should be in those spaces. We should become the third space.
Why go to high street? Isn’t the high street dying now, particularly post-pandemic?
We are at a cultural, societal, political, ideological, spiritual and religious tipping point. There is no neutral ground, everything is up for grabs – people, land, buildings, ideas, teaching and training, mind-moulding, the media airwaves – and if God’s people don’t grab it all boldly, the devil will.
It’s true, the high streets are bland, emptying and in trouble. The shopping mall is characterless, spiritually arid, fatherless.
Meanwhile, we have an ageing population with 2% church attendance, Christianity is seen as irrelevant, and church buildings are made into hair salons.
The third space coffee shop is popular – but one dimensional.
But we have a whole generation who need to meet Jesus Christ and who are ready to meet Him. The harvest is unreligious and packed.
Where are the people? Despite Amazon, they are still in the town centres, wandering the high streets. They go for community, out of habit, for physical, real-time connection, a helping hand and smiling face, a tube of toothpaste, a flat white, a loaf of bread. Mums need a place to take their babies and children, for example. But we know that what people really need is the Bread of Life – Jesus.
Bread, seeks to move into the high street vacuum created by the above and be a father to the fatherless, a beautiful, creative kingdom marketplace.
What was the inspiration behind the name ‘Bread’?
The initial name we came up with was Bread of Life. I knew that I wanted to bring Jesus front and centre. And Jesus describes himself, as you know, in John 6 as the ‘bread of life’.
But also, on the High Street, people go to it for bread! As far back as we can remember, the reason why someone goes into town, into the marketplace, the centre, is to buy food – a loaf of bread. It’s what we eat, it’s the basic food of life. So I also wanted to have a name which accessed that rudimentary need.
I started with Bread of Life, but then I shortened it to just ‘Bread’, because it had more of a ring to it, I suppose!
Bread is just huge in the Bible – you’ve got the broken bread in communion, just sitting round the table in fellowship, breaking bread, man doesn’t live by bread alone… It just had a ring, and it felt right. And obviously we’re going to be selling bread!
But it’s also a non-religious word. And if this grows to more venues, as we hope it will then it’s a brand that can be easily shipped out and used. It’s a cool name, yet its also utterly linked to Jesus.
You’ve said you’re hoping to ship out the brand – but what other successes are you hoping to see from this project?
Nothing short of revival! We want to see life being released all over Yeovil. What I mean by that is, people coming in, not necessarily knowing why they’re coming into our shop, and just encountering Jesus; meeting with his people, being witnessed to, feeling at home, feeling loved, feeling a connection to the place.
I’d love for the people that come here to think, “there’s something different about this place – the way I’m treated is different, the way I’m loved is different.” I want people to realise that we’re more than just a coffee shop, that we’re a community that does outreach. I’d love to see different types of evenings people can get involved with – ministry evenings, film nights. For it to be somewhere where there seems to be a real hub of life and creativity and activity going on. And for people generally to be swept into the kingdom.
Our tagline is “nourishing Yeovil in body, soul and spirit.” We want to nourish people in body – we want to be a place where people come away from our establishment having had a top quality cup of coffee, where people taste the excellence of the Kingdom, they feel nourished.
But also nourished in soul: we want people to feel loved and inspired. We’re hopefully going to run encouragement evenings, prophecy evenings, the 12 Steps course. Things that are a blessing to people, even if they’re not ready for Jesus yet.
And finally, nourishing people in spirit. Bread will be a success if people are getting saved, discipled and properly trained up in the ways of the Holy Spirit.
Bread isn’t just a ‘Christian coffee shop’; it’s an apostolic training centre! And, as I said, we have a big vision to plant this ministry, should it go as we believe it will, into many towns and cities across the country, and even across nations. We want this to be something that can be stewarded well. Almost franchised out, to use a slightly worldly term – kind of replicated out with a whole spiritual family cheering everyone on.
That’s a really encouraging vision! But I imagine there have been some challenges on the way…?
The main challenge is faith, stepping out into the unknown. I’ve never rented a commercial property – that has its own challenges, it’s more complicated than renting a residential property by far. Fundraising, as well – that’s been a challenge. And then things like battling discouragement. The classic pioneering challenges that one faces.
We’re asking ourselves, how are we going to run this as a business? What sort of business will it be? How will we staff this thing? Who’s joining this mission?
We’ve actually had two families move across the country to be with us. So people are moving, people are coming. People are sensing the leading of the Spirit. And we’re seeing people getting really excited about this vision.
When you have a word from God, a zeal that is God-given – then you have a cause. How can we not do what we are called to do? And, by the grace of God, his anointing overcomes all the challenges thrown at us. Through him, we are more than conquerors.
Finally, how would you encourage others who are thinking of starting a similar ministry?
I would say to people, find out your calling. Our calling as a Church is to do the will of Him who sent us. God has given each of us a call, and a grace to fulfil that calling.
Of course, if you’re considering doing something like this, you’re probably already getting in touch with that. Make it plain – on tablet, as the prophets said. Write it down in summary – what is it that you want to achieve? Make that clear in one, two or three steps.
Once you’ve got that, share that with your closest fellowship. See what the body of Christ is saying back to you. God confirms his word amidst the council of the saints – the corporate ‘amen’ of those people we have fellowship with. And then, if God’s calling you to start something, then he’s going to give you the people to do it with – so see who’s saying ‘yes, I want to get behind this’.
Then test it, fly it. If you need a space like we needed a shop, then put an offer in, go and have conversations with estate agents. You’ve got to move out in faith; you’ve got to get out of the boat and stride out into the stormy waves and winds of this fallen world, keeping your eyes on Jesus, just walk out in faith. And God will confirm his word, he will do the rest. You just go step by step in the grace of God.
You can find out more about Bread and how you can get involved on their website.