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How Did Purple Door Coffee Even Happen?

By | Featured, incubation, organization | No Comments

Purple Door is just now really starting to materialize, but it has been in the works for a long time. Dry Bones Denver has always been about not reinventing the wheel. They have wanted to be an organization that is about meeting unmet needs for the Street Kids of Denver. As they were ministering among friends, they realized that employment and job training was one of the greatest unmet needs present on the streets. This is so key in helping our friends transition off the streets. Some might be able to get a job, but holding it is very difficult for many. Others are not even able to be employed because of mistakes in their past.

image credit: purple door by David Christian

Dry Bones started dreaming about a café to employ and train friends that were ready for employment and ready to transition away from street life, because of the transferable skills that working in a café environment provides. They have had this dream since 2007. This effort kept getting delayed until Madison started work on it.
When Madison Chandler started a year long internship with Dry Bones in 2010 the dream resurfaced. She had decided to take on the dream of starting a coffee shop that will employ and train homeless youth seeking to rebuild their lives. As she started efforts she remembered a conversation that she had with Mark Smesrud when they were interns with Dry Bones in the Summer of 2009. They had discussed their love of coffee shops and how it would be incredible to combine work at a coffee shop with ministry among the marginalized–particularly Street Kids. While this conversation was very surface level and short lived it happened, and we believe for a reason…

Madison contacted Mark about coming to work with Purple Door Coffee a couple of times. He initially said “not now” simply because the timing was never right because of his life situation. Finally, in August of 2011 Madison talked to Mark again about joining the Purple Door Coffee effort and this time Mark had a peace about it. He spent two months praying and seeking if this is what he was supposed to be doing and in October of 2011 Mark committed to moving to Denver in January of 2012.

Purple Door took huge leaps forward in July of 2011 when Belay Enterprises began incubating the effort–granting Purple Door Coffee non-profit status and an incredible network of people that know what they are doing in efforts such as this. Belay is a ministry that partners with area churches to develop businesses to employ and job-train individuals rebuilding lives from addiction, homelessness, prison, and/or poverty. They have been around for 17 years and have had incredible impact in the city of Denver. Purple Door is so blessed to be a part of what they are doing.
The combination of Belay and Dry Bones has been remarkably beneficial to the progress of Purple Door Coffee, and is a great example of partnership in Kingdom work.

Mark and Madison are now working at raising funds for Purple Door Coffee, spreading the word about our effort and praying over this new ministry with the hope of opening in August of 2012.

As we continue forward we look at how God has been so incredibly present and faithful in the entire process, we know that this will continue. We are excited to be a part of what God is up to in the world, and we know that this is only the beginning of the journey. Join us as we continue expanding the story of Purple Door Coffee.

Community – Part 1

By | collaborative ministry, Homeless Youth, Street Life | No Comments

Community is kind of a buzzword in Christian circles right now. I hope it’s a buzzword that is here to stay. Community is so vital to life as a follower of Jesus. It is necessary for humanity. God created us to be connected to people.

Image credit: crowd surfer by Photos by Mavis, on Flickr

As our employees exit street life they will be leaving a community that they know. As they exit this community it is so vital for them to find new community away from the streets.

Our prayer is that community groups, faith communities, churches, Purple Door regulars will surround our employees with safe, healthy and loving community.

This ties back to the concept of development. Development helps the whole person. If we simply provide a job and nothing else, we’re missing something. Our employees won’t work at Purple Door Coffee forever, and a community that surrounds that individual can continue to be in relationship beyond their time working with Purple Door. If we don’t provide community it may be much more likely that are employee’s transition away from the streets is only temporary.

Community is also the best context to share and grow in faith. We hope and pray that our employees connect to communities that help them see Jesus clearly.

We hope that you join us in providing this community. When we open, come spend time with us at Purple Door. Get to know our employees. Be a part of what God is up to through this ministry.


By | incubation | No Comments

We’ve had a lot of people ask about our organizational structure. For those of you wondering, here is how the structure of our organization works:

We are a part of Belay Enterprises. In the summer of 2011, we were brought on by Belay in an incubation period. This means we are a part of their organization. We use their 501(c)3 status. We are responsible to Belay’s board. But it is not a permanent situation. We have a goal of spinning off and having our own board and our own non-profit status. We will be a stand alone organization. Belay will then be able to pour the resources they were using on us to engage in another work. Belay is a wonderful ministry that has been around since 1995 and their stated mission is topartner with area churches to develop businesses to employ and job-train individuals rebuilding lives from addiction, homelessness, prison, and/or poverty, to strengthen families and neighborhoods.” which fits so well with our stated mission of “reclaiming and sustaining homeless and street connected youth through supportive and meaningful employment.”

We are not legally connected to Dry Bones Denver, but we are working very closely with them. Mark is currently working out of their office and has been reconnecting to Street Kid culture through Dry Bones events. The partnership is not legally connected, but connected in friendship and a desire to serve the same demographic in the city of Denver. Madison and Mark were both interns for Dry Bones Denver, and these internships are what originally positioned Madison and Mark to engage in this work. This  concept is the brainchild of Dry Bones Denver, and it has been a long time in the making. It is finally coming to fruition.

Working with Belay and Dry Bones has provided more connections and opportunities for Purple Door Coffee than if we were going at it alone. We are so excited to work in the Kingdom together.

Madison and Mark are the two full-time employees of Purple Door Coffee. We work together very closely and have complimenting gifts in the Kingdom. God’s been working on this team for a long time–whether we realized it or not.

Please contact us with other questions about who we are and what we’re about!

First Things First

By | Featured, Street Life | No Comments

“We are not starting Purple Door Coffee because we are better people or because we have a better approach to business than anyone else. We are starting Purple Door Coffee because we have experienced the overwhelming beauty of God’s love and we want to share that with others.”

Madison sent me this last week in an email. This got me thinking…

At Purple Door Coffee we’re about job training. We’re about helping people see their value. We’re about helping rebuild lives from homelessness. We’re about all these good things. But why we’re about these things is what is most important.

We’re about these things because of Jesus. 

Jesus is who we are trying to be like, and so, we care about the things he cares about. He cares about the poor. So, we at Purple Door Coffee are trying our best to care for the poor as Jesus does. Jesus made a huge statement of the value of people when he sacrificed his life for all people. We are striving to make that same statement of value in this ministry and in our lives personally. Jesus cared about being the people of God, and so we are trying to be a community of followers responding to hurts of this world.

While all of these things separated from Jesus would be positive for society, they would be lacking something–they would be incomplete.

I think of the image of one body and many parts found in 1 Corinthians 12. We have many roles in the Kingdom, but the reason we are all working together is because of Christ being the head, the source of it all. If we are acting independently from Christ we’ve lost the rest of the body and all the good that they are doing. Christ brings fullness to the work of His people, to His body. 

As we continue as Purple Door Coffee we proclaim Christ as why we are doing this.  And in doing so we find ourselves working together with the Kingdom at large, which is exciting, powerful and beautiful.

We have experienced the love of God through Jesus, and so we share it, just as others in the Kingdom have experience that love. And that love has motivated us to act. We hope that Purple Door Coffee is a place that proclaims the love of Jesus first and foremost.  We pray that all we do flows out of that love as a portion of what Christ is leading His body to do in this world.

An Update on the Needs of the Ministry

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Purple Door Coffee is starting to gain some momentum. We are making connections, praying as we make decisions, spending time on the streets meeting people, and moving closer and closer to the vision becoming a reality.

As we move forward we hope that you can find a way to contribute.

We have 3 primary needs currently:

1) Financial Support

We are in the process of raising startup costs. We need $150,000 to cover start up costs and the projected needs of Purple Door for it’s first year of operation. This figure includes a full renovation and paying for furniture and equipment. We hope to find a location that will not need a full renovation and we would like to recycle some furniture to cut costs. Also, in the renovation phase, we hope to find people that catch the vision of Purple Door Coffee that would be willing to donate the skills of carpentry, painting, and general renovation needs that could save us a great deal of money.
You can head here to donate.

2) Prayer

We ask that you pray for us as we seek to meet the need of employment among Street Kids in the city of Denver. Pray for the Street Kids we employ, pray for wisdom for the leadership, pray for the love of God to be completely evident. Stay in touch as we move forward to find out about specific needs. Follow us on Twitter and like our Facebook page to get regular updates.

3) Awareness

We ask that you raise awareness among your faith community, your families and friends of the work that we are engaging in. Help promote us on the internet via social networking by simply sharing our Facebook page, tweeting about us or linking people to a blog post.

Please ask us questions about anything to do with Purple Door Coffee!

Just Business

By | Featured | No Comments

“It’s just business”. This is a statement people use when someone gets burned. Someone gets the short end of the stick. It’s become a qualifying statement for when someone has treated another individual as a business deal instead of as a human being.

Because of this it seems that business has become something that is incongruent with the Kingdom of God in many people’s minds. Business is viewed as something ugly completely driven by the almighty dollar, and The Almighty certainly can’t have anything to do with it.

Thankfully in recent years the “Business as Mission” movement is gaining some momentum. Business is being utilized as a way to spread the Kingdom. Instead of “It’s just business” it has become “It’s a just business”. A business that recognizes the value and dignity of all humans. While the business may generate revenues and the operators of the business will intentionally do things to generate more income, it is never at the expense of other people’s value and dignity.

As a follower of Jesus I believe that Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross is the strongest statement of the value of all human beings that has ever been. We, as people trying to daily become more like Christ, must recognize that and live into the value statement that Jesus made on the cross. This is not just when we are doing “Christian” activities, but in all aspects of life–friendships, work, interactions with a clerk at the grocery store, and yes, even business.

Purple Door Coffee is about being a Just Business. We will be a business that will hopefully be very successful. This will take diligence, hard work, learning the industry, adapting to current trends in the world of coffee, being responsible with all our spending and so many other things. We will be a business, but we will run the business with people being our first priority because Jesus’ first priority was to show the incredible love that God has for this world–for people. We hope to live into that–to show love as we sell coffee, train employees, create community, look for good deals on cups and chairs. Everything we do will be motivated by the love God has for the world–the dignity and value established by that love.