The Rock Church and C3 Coffee Bar have extended their outreach of faith, fellowship and coffee with the opening of a third C3 Coffee Bar location this week in Aynor as well as another church campus later this year.
“God had a plan and it worked out,” said Josh Finklea, lead pastor of The Rock Church in Conway. “Because of that, we were able to move into this facility pretty quick. We found out about this building in December and flipped it by April.”
Aromas of various coffee beans and baked goods fill the room. A sign that reads “People Matter” is on display for all who walk inside.
That sign certainly hits home for Scott Johnson, the pastor for The Rock’s future location in Aynor. Johnson grew up in the area, attending Aynor High School in the 90s.
“You know if you are from somewhere, it means more,” Johnson said. “I’m biased to these people. I love this community. I love these people.”
Johnson has spent almost two decades away from the area, but now has the opportunity to “invest in the community.”
“My wife and I have a heart for this community,” Johnson said. “This is where I’m raising my kids. You want to be somewhere where they have access to community.”
That accessibility is certainly critical in The Rock and C3’s mission. Along with the newest Aynor location, the other two C3 coffee shops are within a quarter of a mile of either Conway High School or Coastal Carolina University. The Aynor location is a stone’s throw from both Aynor Middle and Aynor High schools. It’s a part of C3’s mission to be “This ‘Gen’ Led," meaning middle schoolers to college students.
“That means we are going to lead with this generation in mind,” Finklea said. “We are going to put our churches or our coffee bars in a place where this generation can have access. The flip side of that is that we put this generation in leadership.”
While C3 does have paid employees, much of their volunteers are teens and young adults.
“We want to put this generation in a position of leadership because that is what helps us help them,” Finklea said.
The skills young employees and volunteers learn are pivotal for when they set foot in the real world, especially for Johnson’s 9-year-old daughter, who loves to help out around the coffee bar when she’s there.
“Something in society right now that concerns me for her is how technology closes our kids off from personal interaction,” Johnson said. “What I love is that I have a daughter who is a third grader and she wants to talk to someone, take their order. Interfacing with the public, personal skills, conversations, serving the community - to me, that’s everything.”
While the outside of the C3 in Aynor might give off a small coffee shop vibe, but make no mistake, it can support dozens of customers. According to Finklea and Johnson, the C3 coffee bar in Aynor hosted an Easter service with more than 200 people.
“We’re not trying to be the kind of place where you get your drink and get out,” Finklea said. “We want you to come in and stay. We want a place where people can hang out, a place where they can work if they need to work. They can come and talk if they need to talk. Use the wifi up, man! Enjoy!”
The Rock Church, originally started as a travel church in 2005, is a local church with two locations in Horry County, and a third is set to be built in Aynor at the old IGA. Finklea and Johnson hope the newest worship center will be completed and open to their congregation by the end of this year.