Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Venti Anyone

One of my favorite coffees is Starbucks Bold coffee. When I drink it, I know I am drinking coffee. To my surprise there was an article about Starbucks in Psychology Today. Here's a recap of the article along with thoughts about Starbucks and the church ~

Vision. "From a base of just 100 stores 15 years ago, Starbucks has grown into a 13,000-strong coffeehouse armada. It operates cafes in all 50 states and in 37 countries... The company now opens more than 2,000 coffeehouses per year, an average of six new stores a day."

The company's goal is to have 40,000 stores worldwide. Does anyone else think our (universal church) vision for the Church pales in comparison? We complain about one another and even discredit the ministry of churches that are unique and leading tons of people to Jesus, while this company (that's just trying to sell more coffee) is trying to open 40,000 unique locations. Are we thinking too small?

Intentionality. "At Starbucks, nothing is accidental. Everything the customer interacts with, from the obsessively monitored store environment down to the white paper cups, is the product of deliberation and psychological research. The coffeehouse as we know it is a calculated creation..."

Is it only me or does it tick you off, too, that Starbucks has demonstrated this much intentionality in selling coffee while the Church is not quite intentional about much, or maybe we just embrace a passive (or maybe it's just lazy) approach to spreading the Gospel.

Community. "Starbucks filled America's need for a public gathering spot--...a 'third place' with home and work being place one and two. This became Starbucks' community rallying cry: It wasn't a coffee company, but a place for bringing people together through the social glue of coffee."

I couldn’t believe that statement, because I just spoke about the church being a 3rd place last Wednesday night at the business meeting. Maybe we should open a coffee house. I say that not in passing, but with all seriousness.

Atmosphere. Starbucks interviewed coffee drinkers and found that they "talked very little about the coffee itself, but quite a bit about feelings and atmosphere... The coffee wasn't the point--the feel of the place was."
Here's the reality--Starbucks just wants to sell more coffee. But, we don't hear blogging baristas (I love that word) complaining about how Starbucks has watered down the coffee because they're actually paying attention to people's feelings and the atmosphere of their stores.

What if God gifted artists to create an atmosphere for people to be more receptive to hearing the Gospel? What if God created some people with the gift of hospitality to design a welcoming environment for people to hear the Gospel? What if God gifts people and directs them through the Holy Spirit to think about effective building design, sound systems, video capabilities and children's ministry so that more people might hear the Gospel? Is it possible that we're trying to put God in a box by limiting how he chooses to reach people?

That is why it is so important to know our purpose and how God has gifted us. God will use methods we have not seen before to reach people who have yet to commit their lives to Christ. I'm amazed at the variety of different approaches God used in the Bible to get people's attention and transform lives. God is not done creating; and He is not done redeeming.

Just some thoughts. What are yours?

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