The Man Who Went to Church for Starbucks

Posted: October 27, 2009 by Rick Hogaboam in The Mysterious World of American Evangelicalism
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A local church plant sent out fliers to each home advertising a free Starbucks gift card to all who would show up. They are also running ads on Facebook with the title “Free Starbucks Gift Card”. If people choose a church because they can receive a free Starbucks gift card, then I would seriously question whether such folks really want to meet with God. I would also question whether the church is seeking to be a purveyor of goods to meet superficial cravings and needs, or if they are preaching Christ as a matter of life or death.

I would like to think that our worship service brings people to God…that is our intent at least. Guests to our Church should be warned that they might encounter the living God who speaks to us through Word and Sacrament, revealing the secrets of their hearts and bringing them to their knees in confession of our desperate need for Him.

There was once a poor man who thought he most needed silver and gold. Peter said that he had nothing of what the man was seeking, but instead offered him Christ and the lame man was healed. The poor man got better than he initially sought.

Well…..there was once a church, desperate for a big crowd, offered willing attenders a free Starbucks card if they would dare visit their new church. Some flocked there, awkwardly inquiring about the card, glad to finally receive it. They sat through the blaring loud music, thinking that the “band” was trying too hard to sound like U2 (but really sucked).

The pastor got up and “shared” with the group, giving 5 “relevant and practical” points on how to be a more gracious person. The attender thought to himself, “I guess I can implement the ‘life points’ this ‘pastor’ just gave me. Seem simple enough”. Deep down, curiosity struck, “Why do I feel empty? Is this the really good news…that I get a Starbucks card and a message on how to be a happier person? Is that what Jesus died for?”.

On the way out the door, a happy smiley person walks up and quips, “Hope you enjoyed your visit and enjoy your Starbucks coffee. While we don’t hand out gift cards to repeat guests, I hope you found the worship to be cool and relevant, the message to be practical and relevant, and the people to be ‘real’ and relevant, and hope to see you next week at our cool, rocking, practical, real, and relevant church”.

The guest gave an awkward smile in return and  endured a patting on the back as if he was now this guy’s best friend.

On the way home, the man felt somewhat guilty for even having come to church for a Starbucks card, “How shallow can I get?”

He realized his need for God and wanted desperately to seek Him out. As he thought for a moment about returning to the church he had just visited, his guilt over receiving a Starbucks card dawned on him, “How shallow can they be?”. He concluded that this wasn’t the type of church that would most satisfy his deepest questions and longings in his life.

Deep down he needed God, but went to church for a Starbucks card. After being told by a church-member how cool, relevant, real, and practical their church was, he concluded that they were anything but.

Starbucks, rocking music, and friendly people they did have, but not the Jesus he so desperately needs.

  1. churchmouse says:

    Maybe there is an upside to this: the guest may end up asking God to guide him to a church that preaches the Word instead of relying on gimmicks. Sometimes we learn from our mistakes — in this case the shallowness of grasping for a Starbucks card in a church context.

  2. mimi says:

    yeah, we have FREE coffee! 🙂

  3. Authentic words, some unadulterated words dude. You rocked my day.

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