Starbucks is closed! Could this mean the eschaton has arrived?

Like many people, I’m a Starbucks regular. If you notice my Facebook status on the right column, you may see that sometimes I’m “praying to St. Arbuck.” Sure, I know I should be drinking coffee that’s more ethical, but Starbucks is so, well, convenient. And yummy.

I was delighted to read, a couple of weeks ago, that Starbucks would be closing for retraining. Based on the drinks I get, many baristas could use it. But what will the caffeine-addicted masses do during the closure? If quality means less than a good bargain, you can get some cheap drinks elsewhere. Maybe you’ll get a free drink. Starbucks itself suggests some spring cleaning or a change in hair color. Here’s my suggestion: pray. Or give $5 to someone who needs it, since you didn’t get to buy the Venti four-shot soy vanilla cappuccino. There are also lessons for churches in all this.

At first, it seems crazy to close during business hours. Apple knows that closing during business hours stirs people into a frenzy. Maybe churches can learn something from this. Besides the buzz that we could generate, there is something to learn from the commitment to quality that’s embodied by a decision to close every Starbucks in the entire country for several hours. They stopped doing the same-old same-old to make sure that the basics were being done correctly. In churches, my sense is that we get so busy that we often fail to make sure that we’re doing the basics right.

Then, of course, there are the things we can learn about spreading the Gospel from Starbucks itself. If our churches served good coffee and didn’t look like museums of 1950s culture, perhaps people would want to hang out there. Maybe if we cared as much about the experience of our guests as Starbucks cares about its guests, people would come to churches more often to join us.

And, please, can we learn to serve tasty coffee?

(Links in this posting came from the Starbucks Gossip Blog here, here, and here. Check out Church Marketing Sucks too.)

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2 Responses

  1. starbucks is pretty good on the ethical front. you don’t have to officially sign up with fair trade to be a decent company. they are well known for hiring people at a living wage, caring about their workers as more than just hourly tools, and being very careful about who they buy product from.

    as for If our churches served good coffee and didn’t look like museums of 1950s culture, perhaps people would want to hang out there. amen.

    but there are a lot of clergy who think that there is no such thing as doing a bad job. you can hear it. “there is no such thing as bad liturgy” or “everyone has their own gifts and it’s ok if so-and-so can’t preach” and “it’s not a salvation issue if we can’t print the right lessons in the leaflet.”

    imagine. “there is no such thing as bad coffee.” or “every worker has their own gifts, and so it’s ok if so-and-so confuses regular with decaf” or “it’s not important if we don’t give people what they ordered.”

  2. Scott Gunn says:

    Thomas,

    Yes, Starbucks is better than most multi-national companies on the ethical front. But they have virtually refused to serve Fair Trade coffee. It was only the threat of sustained protests that got them to serve *any* Fair Trade. It’s never the coffee of the day. Never.

    I just wish they’d take this one additional step, instead of serving rainforest-killing coffee. Their ethics are good in the developed world, and I’d like to see that commitment go all the way to the developing world.

    As to your other point, with which I agree, someday I’ll write a posting on clergy accountability. Why isn’t it OK to measure clergy, and hold them accountable? The triumph of complacent mediocrity must surely be one of the reasons why our attendance continues to decline.

    Pax,
    Scott

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