Church as coffee…

As I was en route to this morning’s theology breakfast (at a local coffee shop) I was thinking about coffee and the way we get it as a metaphor for our churches. Here is a stab at some ideas, maybe you have some comparisons as well…

Church as Starbucks. You are exceedingly worried about the brand. The church is probably multi-site and while there are plenty of local shops already providing good coffee you want to flood the market and take your share. There are plenty of menu items so that all of your “customers” will have something they like. While there is variety in what might be ordered the one thing you are known for is your consistency. At each location the look is the same, the drinks are the same and the lingo is familiar. Relationships here are usually plastic and superficial. The “barista” might know your name but they are more concerned with providing your cup and getting you through the line. While you are known for planting locations all over the place (sometimes across the street from each other) you would never plant a location with its own branding and brewed offerings. From the same perspective you never assist the local shops that are struggling. After all, if you are not willing to create the “competition” why would you want to help it? Your CEO might write a book and be well-known, even if it is only within your stores, and your “customers” know there must be better “coffee” out there but you are more convenient and comfortable since you “know” them. This analogy could go on and on…

Church as Kuerig. This church is impersonal (even worse than Starbucks). Maybe it is more about podcast traffic than community. Each consumer is very self-focused and is rarely concerned for anyone else.  There is only enough sustenance for the individual and never any depth to the experience. This church might be the latest craze and everyone might want (to be part of) one. But this church is only good for the momentary needs of the morning, not something you would build your life around. Like Starbucks, this church is pretty standard, just add water and poof you have church. There might be some choice in what is offered but it is on the individual level and that leads to division and a sour taste.

Church as Folgers. Old. Stale. Not at all good. Need we say more?

Church as French Press. This church isn’t perfect but at least they don’t pretend to be either. It might take longer than some will wait to have a fully brewed church but it usually tastes a lot better in the end. In this church you can not hide imperfections. The truth of who the “beans” are is revealed under participation in this church. And sometimes life in this church might feel a little like a press – there is certainly pressure as you are refined together with others and the final product is usually better (if Christ has made the beans the best). There might still be some grounds in your mug but this church is bolder, more purposeful and strong. It is not as easy to clean the “press” church but when it is functioning as it was designed, it makes the best “coffee.”

This analogy could so many places. And not all of these associations are bad. Sure there are “Starbucks” churches proclaiming Christ and new life is occasionally seen at the “Folgers” church. I know though, that I want to lead a “French Press” church. It might be a lot more messy but it is so worth it… anyone want to make a pour over comparison?!

2 thoughts on “Church as coffee…

  1. well, I have come to learn in starbuks new line of coffee that the blonder, the quicker to the market, the less refined…the more potent…maybe we should just have quick church…more of a mcdonalds approach. In, out, and on with life. Don’t let it roast for too long, you might ruin it.

    Dude, relax, it is 430, and I needed to say something snide before I went home to my wonderful wife and kids and celebrated our roommates birthday.


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