I love Starbucks. The coffee is amazing. The internet is fast. The music is hip. They promote stewardship of the earth. They have slogans like “Share joy,” or “Earthy and herbal for a season of thanks and giving.” I admit, Starbuck’s marketing lifts my self-esteem. I love all types of coffee shops though. Caribou Coffee is another favorite of mine. For you Hamiltonians, I do miss Williams by Pier 4. I miss writing sermons there. I do miss Tim Hortons, but for different reasons. Tim’s did not provide power outlets for long hours of work. I enjoyed Tim’s on days off.
I spend more time at Starbucks because there is a new one in Holly Springs. Only chains like Starbucks can afford the ridiculous rental fees popping up in new strip malls. Local coffee shops are coming soon.
Coffee shops provide for my extroverted self strength to get work done. My headphones cup my ears and cancel out noise. I can focus on a commentary or my computer or a commentary on my computer. Just the presence of people around me boosts my energy like osmoses. The coffee helps too.
But the problem with Starbucks is that you can get stuck. It can be a Stuckbucks. Church planting is about pursuit. You need to pursue people and relationships. You need to strike up conversation with perfect strangers. Sitting in a Starbucks by yourself does not build relationships. Going to food kitchens, volunteering here and there, attending town council meetings, walking to stores, visiting the chamber of commerce, playing basketball with people you do not know, supporting local businesses do. My mechanic is hooking me up with all sorts of contacts! Coaching gymnastics introduces all sorts of memorable conversations with coaches, parents, and, of course, the kids. My Vacation Bible School personality comes out when I coach, and it is a blast. Camping out at Christ the King Presbyterian Church for weekly worship has also connected us with all sorts of folks- even potential church launch team members!
So there is a comfort in Starbucks, but there is also a danger. It is a comfortable bubble. The coffee and atmosphere is so cozy. The baristas feel like my friends. But staying here can give the illusion that I am in the world rubbing shoulders with strangers, where in fact it can be a place of escape. Church planters need to be in coffee shops, but they cannot get stuck there. The world is dangerous, but in fact, Starbucks is too. The illusion it gives is dangerous. Jesus entering our existence was dangerous. He died violently. Knowing that he would die violently and still go through with the incarnation is the ultimate example for us. Christians are not called to stay stuck inside the cozy and comfortable. We must dare to care for those in this world who have no hope. It is uncomfortable. It is not cozy. But we have God’s spiritual armor (see Ephesians 6:10-20) to help.
What is your cozy zone? Does it blind and disable you from a relationship with Christ that will push you out into this world?
In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:
6 Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; 7 rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross! 9 Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. - Paul writing to the church in Philippi: Philippians 2:5-11