Gospel According to Starbucks

[Dee Andrews has published an interview with me on her blog.  If you’re interested in learning about the inner-workings of Brad Palmore, check out http://www.deeandrews.net]

 

The comforts of flying first class from Miami to Brazil made it easier for me to get some long overdue reading done.  I have a stack of about 30 books in my "to be read" pile, but occasionally I’ll come across a book that I have to move to the top of the list.  This was the case with Len Sweet’s latest: The Gospel According to Starbucks.  

There are a couple of reasons to move the book to the top of the list.  First, I love Starbucks.  It is no secret that Starbucks has successfully tapped into a method of attracting and attaching its customers that we could learn from in the church.  Second, Len Sweet is one of the best academic authors about Post-Modern Christianity.  We shall not hide it any longer… I am a postmodern.  One of our new members paid me the ultimate complement Sunday when she said, "Wow!  You are post-modern, aren’t you."  Somewhere between Nooma, Blue Like Jazz, Fuel, and Flood, I just gave up and started riding the wave (a very postmodern concept, by the way).

The book is a quick read, and should be added to the reading list of everyone who wants to understand what post-moderns look for in a church setting.  As a bonus, there is a 6 page history of coffee in the world.  I dog-eared a couple of pages that I’ll share over the next few days, but first the basic premise of the book.  

Chapter two is entitled "Life on an EPIC Scale" and sets the framework for the rest of the book and introduces the comparisons to Starbucks.  Throughout the book, Sweet encourages us to live the "EPIC" life and to strive for "EPIC" churches.  You guessed it, EPIC is an acronym.  The four basic principles covered in the rest of the book are:

  • Life is Experiential
  • Life is Participatory
  • Life is Image-Rich
  • Life is Connective

 As if by divine coincidence, our pulpit minister (now the Minister of Teaching) put on a very EPIC sermon.  He used physical illustrations in the form of jars and olive oil.  He had a replica lamp from the first century that he passed around the auditorium as he spoke.  He asked response questions and received responses.  He connected the ongoing lesson to involvement in our small groups program.  It was very well done.

So, how many of you are a part of an EPIC congregation?  What would be different if you moved to a more EPIC format? 

12 Responses to Gospel According to Starbucks

  1. Thanks for sharing. I don’t know how, but I’ve never heard of this book. I love comparisons to Starbucks, so I think I might like this one.

  2. Thanks for sharing. I don’t know how, but I’ve never heard of this book. I love comparisons to Starbucks, so I think I might like this one.

  3. bradpalmore says:

    Perhaps because it is brand new, hot off the presses. The day I picked it up was the day it was delivered to the store. I happened to be there and overheard the clerk talk about the new book about Starbucks.

    Thanks for stopping by!

  4. meowmix says:

    First question: No, I’m definitely not a member of an EPIC congregation. Second, how would it be different if the format were changed to EPIC? It wouldn’t be the same congregation! 🙂 Wish I’d been there for the sermon you speak of. Sounds very interesting.

  5. meowmix says:

    First question: No, I’m definitely not a member of an EPIC congregation. Second, how would it be different if the format were changed to EPIC? It wouldn’t be the same congregation! 🙂 Wish I’d been there for the sermon you speak of. Sounds very interesting.

  6. James says:

    Mmmmm, coffee!

    Yes, it was a very well done presentation. Unfortunately you missed the one the week before, which I think was even better.

    I think where the Church of Christ could be more effective, and where many other groups leave us in the dust, is in implementing the concepts Sweet refers to. Remember at Sunday’s small group when we were talking about joyful, celebratory worship attitudes (clapping, etc) and that if you can get excited about a football game shouldn’t you be able to get excited about Jesus? I think part of our problem is that we have rarely made Christianity something to truly celebrate. We have usually failed to make it experiential, participatory, image-rich, or connective. We have typically made it a formulaic checklist.

    In the Air Force we do almost everything by technical orders, or TO’s. These are step by step instructions for any and every task, from changing the engine on a jet to submitting a request for office supplies. They get the job done, but we don’t celebrate them when we finish. We celebrate things like reenlistments, anniversarys, homecomings, successful unit inspections and the like.

    People don’t typically join the Air Force so they can go through a thousand detailed steps to complete a task. They join to be a part of something bigger and more noble than themselves. To be a part of an organization with a history, a heritage and a mission.

    So, should Christianity be a checklist or a celebration?
    Which one would attract you?

    James @ TheoBloggers!

  7. James says:

    Mmmmm, coffee!

    Yes, it was a very well done presentation. Unfortunately you missed the one the week before, which I think was even better.

    I think where the Church of Christ could be more effective, and where many other groups leave us in the dust, is in implementing the concepts Sweet refers to. Remember at Sunday’s small group when we were talking about joyful, celebratory worship attitudes (clapping, etc) and that if you can get excited about a football game shouldn’t you be able to get excited about Jesus? I think part of our problem is that we have rarely made Christianity something to truly celebrate. We have usually failed to make it experiential, participatory, image-rich, or connective. We have typically made it a formulaic checklist.

    In the Air Force we do almost everything by technical orders, or TO’s. These are step by step instructions for any and every task, from changing the engine on a jet to submitting a request for office supplies. They get the job done, but we don’t celebrate them when we finish. We celebrate things like reenlistments, anniversarys, homecomings, successful unit inspections and the like.

    People don’t typically join the Air Force so they can go through a thousand detailed steps to complete a task. They join to be a part of something bigger and more noble than themselves. To be a part of an organization with a history, a heritage and a mission.

    So, should Christianity be a checklist or a celebration?
    Which one would attract you?

    James @ TheoBloggers!

  8. bradpalmore says:

    Awesome comment! Michael Armour recently wrote a leadership article on the importance of meaning in an activity. It puts the emphasis on vision and reason. When there is no meaning behind the activity, it all becomes busy work and NO ONE likes busy work.

  9. James says:

    Brad,
    So we are all on the same page, or at least so I understand you correctly, would you kindly give a description/definition of what you mean when you say, “I am a postmodern.” I think I know but I’d like you to clarify for me.

    Thanks!

    James @ Real Good Thing!

  10. James says:

    Brad,
    So we are all on the same page, or at least so I understand you correctly, would you kindly give a description/definition of what you mean when you say, “I am a postmodern.” I think I know but I’d like you to clarify for me.

    Thanks!

    James @ Real Good Thing!

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