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Our aim is to offer the Soul Food Café courses to anyone interested. Currently, we are in the early stages of our rollout and offer our training courses only to organisations.
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First, what Soul Food Café is not! We are not a restaurant, café church or psychology clinic. We are also not just a place where you can come to have a cuppa and chat, though that’s certainly part of the experience. Rather, our cafés are intentional sacred spaces where we meet regularly together in a café to embark on the search for meaning and give voice to the deeper things of the soul. Our cafés are also community training spaces where we run our Journey of Discovery courses that promote stories, skills and support to help deepen our self-awareness, well-being and spirituality. In short, Soul Food Cafés are informal sacred spaces where we share our stories and reflect meaningfully upon them.
Because cafés are familiar, neutral places where people who may not feel comfortable entering a church space for a whole host of reasons, can feel at ease. The soul is like a shy animal that needs to feel absolutely safe before it comes out to play. Therefore, these informal sacred spaces need to be somewhere relaxed, where you can have conversations that can be heard (avoid noisy cafés), and drinks are essential.
Soul Food Cafés are potentially any community café. As discussed, the key thing is that it needs to be somewhere relaxed, where you can have a friendly conversation whilst enjoying a drink. We meet for approximately 1 hour a week. If you complete all of the Journey of Discovery courses and become a Discovery Coach, you may choose to transform an existing community café into a Soul Food Café space where people regularly do life together. People in remote locations could even do Soul Food Café via video chat (e.g. Skype).
In the Soul Food Café there are no ‘leaders’ as such but rather a trained Discovery Coach who acts as a point of contact and facilitator. Our Discovery Coaches do not give advice. Like lighthouses, they listen deeply to another person’s story and look for the movement of God. We use a coach-the-coach lighthouse model to simply shed light on a person’s position and circumstance. For more information, read Lighthouses: Christian Coaching in a Post-Christian World (Whetham & Eaton 2018)
Soul Food Café is for anyone who is soul searching and looking for a safe sacred space to connect, reflect and grow with others. Staying connected and having meaningful conversations is something we can all do. You don’t need to be an expert - just a good listener, friend and fellow traveller on the journey.
For some of us, that may be a daunting prospect, especially if we have tried to share our story in the past but been judged or shut down. The problem is, believe it or not, we don’t fully know our story until we tell it. Neuroscience has now shown us that the brain processes our beautiful yet broken story when we formulate our thoughts, speak them, hear them and get feedback on them. Meaningful relationships are essential in our search to transform our minds and souls. The telling of our stories is transformational because it involves authentic dialogue and this, in neuroscience terms, is an enriched environment that stimulates neural growth and enhances our mental health.