Monday, June 28, 2010

What if Starbucks Marketed Like a Church? A Parable.

I came across this YouTube video today, and it got me thinking...

What I love about this video is that it is taken from the perspective of the visitors...this young couple who comes in and just wants coffee...and Starbucks makes them jump through hoops to get it.
Now, obviously, this entire video is comparative to new visitors coming to check out a church on a Sunday morning, but the point remains.
A couple of things I noticed...
First, The couple confesses they are nervous and on edge before they even exit the vehicle. Who knows why they came there in the first place, whether it was because they are hoping to have a need met, or they are just looking for a new church, or they just want to find a place to fit in. Whatever the reason, they are coming to Church seeking.
Right off the bat, the first set of doors they try to enter is locked, when only a moment before a "regular" group of attenders were admitted without a problem.
Next, the "Greeters" are too busy talking about their own lives to even bother to try and greet the visiting couple.
Finally, when they get inside the foyer, they get in line behind a guy wearing a suit, who we can infer would be the Pastor, Elder, Deacon, or some other role of leadership in the church. (At least, that's how I interpreted him.) He takes one look at the guy, and you can tell he's thinking to himself: "You're not good enough to be here..."
Then, when they finally get to the counter, the guy tries to get a cup of coffee, and the Barista embarrasses them by having them raise their hands because they are visitors, and has them fill out information about themselves before he serves them.

If this is how we treat people as the church, then boy do we have problems. And we wonder why people don't like going to church. We ignore them, judge them, embarrass them, make them fill out paperwork, and do everything but what we should do: love and serve them.
The Church was made to serve people, it shouldn't be about the Church trying to get new people to fit into the Church.
I vaguely remember a quote, I think it was painted in the lunch room of my High School...and it said: "If you judge someone, you will never have time to love them." I think it was said by Mother Theresa, and I have to wholeheartedly agree. If we spend all of our time judging people, we will never be able to love them.
I guess the question becomes- what does the Church exist for?
Are we here to save people, to get people to come to our Church, so we can judge them and then take their money?
Or are we here to serve and love people, to meet people where they're at, possibly meet a need they have (physical, spiritual, or otherwise), to come alongside them, and do our best to love and serve them, like Jesus did in the gospels, and the apostles did in Acts?
We have to be willing to love and serve others...end of story.



To start with, I need to say a few things...

First, These are simply my thoughts about...well, anything, at the moment. My intention is not to offend anyone who reads this (if anyone ever does...), but simply have a forum to respond to things that I encounter in my life, basically a public space where I can write. I am not claiming to be any kind of authority or anything, especially referring to religious and theological issues. I have a Bachelor's Degree in Pastoral Ministry from Greenville College...that's it.

Second, I cannot and will not guarantee that I will be "blogging" on a regular basis. I am a ministerial student serving in a local church, am married, have a 10 month old daughter, and lots of homework, so I can't promise that this will become a regular thing.

Third, I am a Free Methodist Pastor, Which means I am a Christian. My world view and thoughts on life are channeled through this lens, and I feel it is only appropriate that readers (if there ever are any) are aware of this up front, as not to be offended or surprised by this fact later.

Having said all of this, I'm not really sure what else I should if anyone else (besides me) ever reads this...enjoy!!
May the Grace and Peace of our Lord Jesus Christ richly fill and bless you.