What’s the Story Behind the Thinking Series and Andy’s New Book?
In 2010, I was approached by Velocity, a Christian organization that holds music concerts, comedy shows, and lectures in a coffee shop in Port Moody, British Columbia. They were wondering if I would be willing to give a series of lectures on life’s five biggest questions from a Christian perspective. “Sure,” I said.
But there was a hitch. They suggested doing something that they had never done before: they wanted to hold the lectures during normal operating hours. Velocity normally rented the coffee shop, closing it to the public for their events. This time, however, they wanted to keep the store open, allowing people to come and go freely, while I spoke in the corner.
I must confess, I was a little concerned about this idea. My mind filled with visions of hostile baristas and annoyed customers throwing their empty cups at the crazy guy giving a lecture to no one. Although I was a little terrified, I was also excited to give it a try.
With a little research and a lot of common sense, I came up with the list of life’s five biggest questions:
1) What is the meaning of life?
2) Does God exist?
3) Do all religions lead to God?
4) Why is there evil?
5) Is there life after death?
We spent a couple of weeks promoting the lecture series and then it was time for the main event. When I arrived at Gallagher’s Coffee Bar and Cafe that first evening for “The Big Five,” as we called it back then, the coffee shop was dead quiet.
Would anybody even show up?
We began to arrange chairs and a local musician started prepping his sound equipment. Slowly, people started trickling in. Then, as the musician played, the coffee shop began to fill with people that had come for the talk. I was blown away by the response! What I thought would be a handful of cantankerous coffee addicts, turned into over sixty-five excited people jammed into a small space. There were all kinds of thinkers and perspectives represented including Atheist, Agnostic, New Age, and Christian. By the time I began, it was standing room only. While I spoke on the meaning of life, you could hear the espresso machine humming, the cash register slamming, and the sound of people sipping coffee.
It was glorious!
During my talk, I noticed quite a few random people coming into the coffee shop off of the street and—to my surprise—they were staying. I even noticed that people who were walking their dogs or just going for a stroll were stopping outside the door and listening. ‘What were these people thinking?’, I wondered, ‘did they think I was crazy?!’ After spending the first half of our time together raising the question of life’s meaning, I took a break to allow time for people to discuss the question with those around them. As the aroma of freshly brewed coffee filled the air, so did the conversation.
The coffee shop was abuzz with excitement. As I sat at different tables, listening to the ideas people were discussing, I could sense that many people had a deep longing to be heard and to discuss this profound question. People continued to come in off the street and join in to the conversation.
With the time remaining, I did my best to address the question in a way that was personal, passionate, and understandable. Ultimately, I just wanted to get people thinking about important questions of life; too often, our culture has made these questions seem unanswerable. I think that’s why the series was such a hit; there are just not many places you can go to these days to have meaningful conversation about the big issues of life.
The night went so well that the owner of Gallagher’s literally needed to push people out of his shop so that he could close up for the night. Eagerly, he invited us to come back for the next topic. Over the next five weeks, we continued to pack it out. The owner made a tidy profit, and I learned a lot. Since then, I have given hundreds of lectures on each of these topics in coffee shops, bars, prisons, universities, high schools, conferences, and churches. Eventually, these talks led to the creation of a DVD and book (Thinking? Answering Life’s Five Biggest Questions) that together are called the Thinking Series. This series is designed to help the church engage with a culture that is desperate for answers.
This series is the result of years of conversations and research on these topics. You’ll see that life’s five biggest questions are all interconnected and, when put together, they help to clearly explain why Jesus is good news. So, whether you are new to these types of discussions, or an old pro, I hope the Thinking Series helps expose you to new ideas and thinkers, as well as encourage you as you wrestle through these important questions.
For free resources to host your own Thinking Series and to purchase the DVD and book visit: www.thinkingseries.com
Want to attend the series?
Join Andy Steiger on Wednesday night for five weeks at Northview Community Church for the Thinking Series.
Dates: March 11th – April 8th.
For more info and to register visit: www.northviewthinkingseries.com
Space is limited!