There was a great article in Leadership Magazine this quarter entitled "The Gospel According to St. Arbucks". It is a comparative evaluation of the environment at Starbucks (get it… St. Arbucks) and what the church could learn from the interaction that occurs there. The author, Greg Asimakoupoulos from Mercer Island, WA, starts by listing some observable characteristics of those who attend St. Arbucks:
- The committed are amazingly loyal
- They demonstrate familiarity with the lingo and the liturgy
- They are not put off by the financial sacrifice necessary to attend, much less upgrade to a grande or venti
- They are often times happy to come more than once a week
There are three major characteristics that the author sees in St. Arbucks that churches can benefit from.
- It’s a place where you are known. Baristas often recognize the regular customers and try to greet them by name and often know what they will order before they actually do. Being able to relate personally to church members, especially new comers, adds a sense of value to their participation in church activities.
- It affirms differing tastes. There are too many possibilities to mention at St. Arbucks. What’s important is that Americano drinkers and Mocha drinkers don’t look down on each other. Baristas treat them all the same no matter what drink they are making. While absolute selection in most churches is impossible, it would be a great step for us to see everyone on equal footing and respect them as individuals no matter what the issue is.
- It’s open to the community. Every shape, size, and type of people can be seen in St. Arbucks. They don’t discriminate based on age, personality, socio-economic class, dress, or gender. Our churches have to find ways to open the doors to all types of people. Not just on Sundays, but throughout the week as well.
So, what do you think? What do you notice when you worship at the alter of St. Arbucks? How can we move our churches to developing an environment that is as open, welcoming, and comfortable as the one St. Arbucks offers?