Is Starbucks Replacing The Church?
Starbucks did it again.
Over the weekend, I received an email from Starbucks thanking their customers for lending a hand as they have been working all month long to better the world around them through mobilizing the Starbucks faithful to contribute their time, talents, and treasure towards community service projects and financial contributions.
The email made me think of a sermon I preached several years ago about how we are wired to do life together. The sermon, creatively titled “On Community“, discussed a little bit of the concept of the “third place”: a place where people go to be together. In the sermon, I suggested that Starbucks is making millions off an idea that originated with the early church.
Don’t misunderstand me: I greatly appreciate the efforts that Starbucks is making in communities all over this country. I am thoroughly impressed with the understanding that Starbucks has for the rising generations and what it takes to fully engage with them. I also am somewhat disappointed that more churches aren’t engaging with those same generations in much the same way.
I am not suggesting that we begin to sell overpriced coffee and frozen frou frou concoctions on Sunday mornings, but I am suggesting that the local church can learn much about how to engage with our communities, and the rising generations, by watching Starbucks. Starbucks did not invent community service, social justice, or the concept of the third place. They did recognize the value, and profitability of, these three concepts have successfully incorporated them into their brand.
What if our churches began to the ideas of authentic community, social justice, and serving the neighborhoods in which we live as seriously as Starbucks? What if we began to give Starbucks a run for its money when it came to being known for community, social justice, and serving its neighborhood?
What is YOUR church known for in YOUR community?