Hope Co-op Reaches Those Who Had Given Up on Church

by Chad Ensz

What would you expect to find in a downtown Sioux Falls brewery on a Thursday evening? Beer? Likely. Small groups conversing? Sure. Others playing table games? Also a possibility. But, a Bible study group? Probably not…unless you come to Woodgrain Brewery. Welcome to Thirsty Thursday.

Whether one is thirsting for beer (or lemonade), knowledge, or community, Thirsty Thursday is all about satisfying thirst. At the outset, we started at the very beginning of the Bible (because why not, right?) and we just read a little and then talked about it. We have followed the same pattern ever since. We read a little and then we talk about it — rinse and repeat. There is no expectation that anyone has read any of the Bible before, all questions are welcomed, and so are different viewpoints. We challenge each other and we grow in our faith together as we make sense of how God has been and continues to be involved in the world around us (including our own lives!).

A community grew around Thirsty Thursday with people from all walks of life (some have never been to church, some grew up in the church and fell away, and still others were previously burned by the church and vowed never to return). We are a rather ragtag group of people; on any given night you’ll find some of us in dusty work clothes, others in sweats right from the gym, and still others in pj’s. That’s the beauty of Thirsty Thursday; it’s all about community and being present, just as you are.

This community is Hope Co-op. It’s grown from “just” a Bible study to an entire community of serving and worshipping Christians. We teamed up with local non-profits to support community efforts and even started some of our own community projects. We also wanted to worship, so we asked ourselves what it would look like for Christians to gather, worship, and serve in ways that were more authentic, candid, messy, and well, more fun. And then, we decided to do it, and “The Table” was born, which is our worship service.

The Table is an uncommon gathering around a common meal. If you’ve sat around a table enjoying a meal before, then you know everything you need to know about The Table. That’s what we do. We enjoy a meal together. But The Table is more than a meal. It is a conversation and connection. The Table is a way to approach questions about God, life, and the mixing of the two. It is a place where bellies and souls alike are fed.

By the grace of God, we have become a place of hope for people who had given up on the church. Our young believers are so committed to this place that they have already begun contributing financially, which is an amazing testament to the power of this community! However, imagine if your church was required to survive on the financial gifts of your newest and youngest participants. You, too, would face the struggle that Hope Co-op faces every day. It takes time and nurturing to reach a self-sustaining financial foundation.

We are so grateful for the support we have received already, and would love for you to join in supporting Hope Co-op. If you can’t make it to Thirsty Thursday or The Table regularly, might you consider making a financial gift? Your support goes a long ways to help ensure that the young Christians of our community continue to have a place to study the Bible, worship God, and serve together. Thank you!

If you would like to make a contribution to Hope Co-op, the presbytery will match it (up to $500)!