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March 6, 2008

At Croatian cafe, youth don't pay up. They "pray up."

According to Religion News Service, a Roman Catholic parish in Zagreb, Croatia, has opened a cafe for youth that encourages youth to pray up instead of pay up for coffee, tea, hot chocolate and baked goodies. The free refreshments are donated by parish parents.

The menu carries "price listings" that began as one young cafe-goer's idea of a joke. The sign suggests three “our Fathers” for coffee, and so on, for a variety of treats including hot chocolate, non-alcoholic drinks and cakes.

“Since most of our kids still go to church and this is a coffee culture, it’s the obvious thing to do,” said Damir Stojic, a priest who serves as a youth chaplain. Stojic called the price list a humorous way to reach youth who went to secular cafes. “Don’t get the wrong idea,” he told Ecumenical News International. “The prayer tariffs are only symbolic; we don’t hold anyone to them.”

Across the globe other church organizations have offered other quirky outreaches from billboard jokes to jello wrestling. But this one with its price menu made me wonder again about the interesection of humor and outreach.

When is it OK for evangelists to be funny? When is it not?

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