The Gospel According to Starbucks

What!? Just for a cup of coffee?

We lived in Hastings on England’s South coast and had been given some vouchers for the ferry to “hop across” the Channel for the day. Our girls were small then and they did not enjoy it. I look back on a disappointing day.

Having once lived on the island of Guernsey the ferry trip held no novelties. The trip was on a chilly, foggy, autumn day and we found warmth and shelter in a cafe and bought coffee. The coffee was excellent but, to us, expensive. We could not foresee when coffee shops of all varieties would fill our high streets, when we would become accustomed to spending even more, in real terms, than we did on that cold day.

Personally I prefer the coffee in Nero or Costa to Starbucks (or St Arbucks as some of my friends call it), but all these coffee shops sell a common commodity, not coffee, but lifestyle and self-image.

“The Gospel According to Starbucks” ponders this phenomenon of our time from a Christian perspective. I recommend it. The author invites us to look at our Christianity in a new way. He suggests coffee shops are, and churches should be, “E.P.I.C.” – Experiential, Participatory, Image-rich, and Connective.

I found the EPIC acrostic to be such a good meditation on my faith that I ended up writing it on the bookmark I used as I read the book. I wanted to keep looking at it.

Some good quotes:

Someone has calculated that a Strawberry and Cream Frappuccino packs the nutritional equivalent of a whole Pizza Hut Personal Pan Pepperoni Pizza that you sip through a straw.

This is not all that different from the worship “experiences” that can quickly become monsters that need to be fed increasingly elaborate meals every week and the preacher and worship team become the food. All of this leads to severe obesity – in more ways than one. Page 42

The basic question of life is this: is God a reality to be experienced or a belief to be remembered? The basic question of the Christian life is this: is Christ a living force to be experienced or a historical figure to be reckoned with? Page 45

The world is not impressed that people attend church on Sunday mornings. If anything, such a habit is viewed as a quaint waste of time. But imagine if every Christian in the world were living as a little Christ. Page 50

Why is the cross beautiful, but not pretty? Not because it’s a vertical torture chamber but because it tells the whole truth, the story of a God who loved us so much that God would go to … extremes to show us that love. The cross is beautiful because it reveals love, the substance that bonds beauty, truth, and goodness together Page 57

If Jesus launched an advertising campaign he might use this slogan: “I Bring Things Good, True, and Beautiful to life.” Page 81

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