cup-and-beans1

i like starbucks. aside from a frappuccino or two (or three) in the summer, i always get plain coffee (house or columbia narino if they have it- no sugar, a touch of cream please) and i like it. i do not apologize for it. but i am not ashamed to admit that one of the best cups of coffee i have had in a long while i got from burger king last week. i just like the taste of good coffee. (and don’t talk to me about the price, my regular size cup of coffee at starbucks is only .20 cents more than burger king, and i get more of it and usually a free refill).

but this post is not about coffee loyalties, but rather the gospel and how we as the church “market” the gospel. i had been thinking about this for awhile and then i stumbled upon this blog and agree with a lot of what he writes.

coffee-posters

i could quibble about some of the finer points the author makes (for instance, as stated, the price for a regular cup of coffee of equal volume is not that different, and in the “taste tests” it is never stated if the coffee is sweetened at all or if it is a bold vs. mild, which of the many geographic regions[which affects the taste] the starbucks coffee is from vs. the one offering from dunkin’, etc.), but his overall point is a strong one.

starbucks is very much operating with the “3rd place” mentality. consumers have their home (place 1) their workplace (place 2) and what they offer is a relaxing atmosphere that will fulfill the created need of a “3rd place” that is familiar, relaxing, free of the responsibilities of places 1 & 2, and brings with it a bit of social status. i used to live within 2 miles of 3 starbucks and frequented one in particular up to 6 times a week. while there studying, working, or reading, i would observe a large part of the clientele would never get coffee, but rather what the above author calls ‘fru fru” drinks- very sweet flavored (usually fruit or chocalate) dessert drinks.

the thing that has made starbucks such a grand enterprise and financial success (say what you want about the cutbacks, but they still outsell dunkin’ donuts by millions each year) is all of the “stuff” they have added to get people in the store. if you took away any beverage that was not coffee, the comfortable furniture, the decor’, and all of teh extras, i am sure that it would finally meets its end. people are willing to spend their time and money for atmosphere and perception- and starbucks is willing to offer it to get people in the doors.

but we must *NOT* ever do that with the gospel. as soon as we begin making anything but the gospel the “main thing” in our churches, then we have sacrificed our purpose as christians and as a church on the altar of pragmatism. i pray that the lord would send many people to our church and we are working to more effectively reach those around us, but if our church becomes known for something other than the gospel, then we are “selling” the wrong “product”.

lord grant us the wisdom to not compromise the gospel for the sake of what looks like “success”. let our success be based on how faithful we are to the gospel. how much we love the lord with all of our heart soul, mind, and strength, and if we love our neighbors as ourself.

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