What the Church can Learn from Starbucks

Last week Rachel and I had the opportunity to visit Starbucks' headquarters thanks to Erin, a friend of a friend of Rachel's who was kind enough to give us a tour.  Being a huge Starbucks aficionado, I was thrilled.

When you walk into the lobby you'll see two things on the walls: the Starbucks mission statement and a timeline of their history.

I had never heard their mission statement before touring their headquarters: To inspire and nurture the human spirit, one person, one cup, and one neighborhood at a time.

I asked Erin if the mission statement is something that the employees are aware of and think about, and her response was that they most definitely do.

Curious if the corporate mission had made it all the way down from HQ to individual stores, I texted my friend Tim Holland—who manages a Starbucks in DC—and asked if he knew the mission statement.  His response, "You kidding? Of course I do." And he proceeded to write it out.

When I asked if his baristas know it, he said, "I make them recite it to me. No better way to get them to buy into the culture than teaching them our history and values. Both are encapsulated in that simple statement."

The Starbucks mission statement isn't just something that's on the wall.  It permeates the culture and affects how the company operates, from the CEO all the way down to the front-line barista.

In the last 25 years, Starbucks has grown from a small company to a huge international corporation, but when the recession happened a few years ago they took a hard hit.  Their response?  Refocus on the mission.  The results speak for themselves.  They recovered and are growing again.

Before he left Earth, Jesus gave the church a mission statement: Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.

The mission of the Church is to move people closer to God, if they don't know Him to help them get to know Him and if they do, to help them know, love, and obey Him more.

While Starbucks has spent the last 25 years experiencing phenomenal growth, the influence of the western Church has declined markedly. I can't help but wonder if at least part of that is attributable to a loss of focus on our mission.

Tim said that not all Starbucks stores are as focused on the mission. "Those [managers] are comfortable staying where they're at and keeping their baristas put, too.  There's too much talent in our stores to ignore its development potential. Really sad."

Pastors, is your church like Tim's store, with a laser focus on the mission and leadership that is committed to seeing the mission lived out?

Or is it more like the stores where the managers "are comfortable staying where they're at and keeping their [people] put too"?

Dr. Eric Mason – Advance the Church – How the Gospel Changes Our City and Community

Titus 3

There has been a resurgence in cities of a desire to cities be transformed by the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  It’s not a new idea, but it’s been on fire.  So in an effort to get to that, many of us get to service projects to try to do that without understanding the centrality of the Gospel as the means to transformation.

Titus is great because it’s basically Paul telling his disciple how to do it.

Titus was a disciple of Paul.  Something happened where Paul had to leave.

Their church plant process was to preach the Gospel, disciple them for a couple of years, the you begin appointing elders.  So Paul tells Titus that he left him in Crete to appoint elders.  So Titus is about how to develop a community in Gospel stability so that once the apostles leave the community is able to carry on the glorious legacy of the Gospel.

So chapter 1 talks about how leadership should be humble.  Chapter 2 he begins to tell Titus to teach in accordance with sound doctrine.  Sound is where we get our hygiene from, to inspect someone and give them a clean bill of health.  He wants them to teach sound doctrine that brings health into community. Then he tells Titus to teach the older women to teach the younger women.  He doesn’t want Titus teaching the younger women.  Then he tells Titus to teach the young bucks.

So in chapter 3 he starts in on mission.  So we’ve got qualified leadership, a discipleship culture, and finally a missiological theology centered on the Gospel.  The gospel motivates us to serve our cities.

He reminds them to be obedient to the rulers and authorities of the city, the civic authorities.  He’s saying I want you to begin by God’s grace to serve the city that you’re in.  But he uses the word hupataso.  I want you to be subject or submissive to these leaders.  What’s interesting is that htese leaders were not the best leaders on the planet. You think we’ve got problems?  Verse 2 says to speak evil of no one.  For some of you to shut your mouth would be missional.  There’s two types of people in the church: Republicans and Democrats.

We need to posture ourselves as servants rather than having unrealistic expectations of leadership.

We also see next a beautiful, beautiful thing.  He tells him to be gentle and show courtesy towards all people.  The Gospel motivates us to be missionally empathetic.  Many of us act like we saw sin in our leadership for the first time.  We forget the state we were in when Jesus found us.  We were walking with the prince and power of the air.  But I’m so glad that God sent Jesus in the incarnation.  Don’t forget the work that God did to save us.

We like to make Christian bubbles.  I worked at a church that had a bowling alley, movie theater, and arcade.  We like to be in our Christian culture where we don’t have to be around the world. In other words, let’s slap Christian on everything so we can feel good about it.  I’m not saying go out and watch a porn movie so that you can contextualize the Gospel to porn culture.  But let’s stop escapism.

You’ve got to nuture in your community a love for the people who are broken.  That means you have to love them first.  They can’t just be pew warmers to satisfy your ego.  You must love them.

Around my church there are drug dealers, brothels, middle class, upper class, blue collar, white collar.  God had to ask me, “Do you really love these people?  Or do you just want things to look nice on the website?  Do you want to transform your city?”  We know how to market impact, but we don’t know how to create impact.  Do you love lost and broken people?

Paul usually gives you the theology of something first and then gives you the way it’s fleshed out.  He usually gives you orthodoxy and then orthopraxis.  But in this passage he flips that.  What he’s going to begin to do is show you that the Gospel is not social but it has sociological implications that flows from and results in the Gospel.

What Paul begins to do is point to the work of God, according to God’s loving-kindness. God is an eternal philanthropist.  God called us to salvation based on his desire to execute his ministry and mission through human beings who are redeemed by him.

The Gospel demands the removal or correction of those who distract the Church from Gospel mission.  Titus 3:9: avoid foolish controversies, dissensions…  If you’re doing the work of God, you’re going to go through warfare, and it’s often going to come through those who look like Christians.  It’s telling us to spiritually clock those who are insubordinate.  What they do is try to cause theology to distract missiology.  That doesn’t mean we don’t like theology, we just don’t let the things that are non-central distract from what was essential.  They try to supersede the ecclesiological authority that God set up.

Next he says, but let our people learn to devote themselves to good works so as to help cases of urgent need and not to be unfruitful.

We need to have a theology of prayer, a theology of presence, and a theology of peace.

Prayer is praying for your city for it’s benefit, but which also benefits the prayer.  If you want to reach your city, you need to pray for your city.  I don’t care how manly you think you are.  You need to pray for you city.

You must have a theology of presence.  You have to actually be there in the city.  You have to be able to interact incarnationally with the realities of what’s happening in the city.  Jesus had to be made like his brothers in every sense.

You have to have a theology of peace, seek the shalom of the city.  Shalom is the restitching of things back to God’s original design and redemptive design in Jesus.  How can our ministry to this city by God’s grace create trailers of a movie that’s coming.  A trailer drums me up and makes me excited.  But I’m seeing a preview without seeing the reality.  God calls you to do something that shows the city the Gospel.

We’re building a playground in our very rough neighborhood to provide a safe place for children.  It has a dual function.  It has a civic function, but it also has a missiological function.  It’s a third place where people can experience the Church.

We do organized outreach:

  • We are here outreach.  Jesus is on the scene, doing work.
  • We want to know you outreach.  We just spend time with people.  This is what Jesus does when he’s hanging in Matthew’s crib.
  • We want to see your Kingdom come outreach.  This is investment in the community.  And connecting all of those things to the Gospel.  We can relate it to the story of redemption history.  Things weren’t created like this.  They fell, but they’re being restored.

The first thing God wants to change is not the city but the souls of human beings.