4/18/2006 11:03:00 AM This is posted from Kevin Lee's Blog, a pastor of a church in New Orleans destroyed by Hurricane Katrina.
I have to begin these thoughts by giving full credit to our Pastor of Worship, Byron Townsend. The guy finds the best articles out there. He sent me an article concerning research that has been done on the global impact of Starbucks. The primary researcher determined that the draw of Starbucks is the sense of community it affords to people. In a world that is unstable and inconsistent, Starbucks' setting provides consistency and stability for people.
I thought about how true these observations are. I am a coffee shop fanatic. My two favorite coffee shops in the world are Rosie Lea's Bubble Tea Room on Maple Street and Flora's Coffee House in Bywater (both New Orleans classics). These are hands down the two best coffee houses in the world. But I don't go there for the ambiance or the coffee even though both are great at both places. I go there for the people. I go there because I know I can sit down with a cup of coffee and strike up a conversation about the arts or ethics. Even Jesus is welcome conversation at coffee houses. There is a sense of belonging at coffee houses. A sense of community.
As I read this article I thought about what this should say to the church. I think it tells us that deep down where the image of God still resides in people there is a hunger for authentic life. Life that is experienced in deep and meaningful relationships. First with God and then with neighbor. When we look past the frantic pace of life in our culture we see coffee shops where people gather for the purpose of living real life. Life that comes in the form of conversation with people who love one another and are willing to be open and vulnerable about who they really are. And this is what I love about coffee shops. More than that it is what I love about the church.
The church is a community of the walking wounded. People with the scars of sin who have been healed by the grace of God. The church is the place where fragmented people go to experience the wholeness that comes through the reconciling work of Jesus on the cross. The church is the community where people can come with all of their junk and wrestle with God. I desperately want an article to be written about how the church in America is growing at an alarming rate because of the sense of community it provides for a broken and fragmented world. Because it is a community where busted and broken people experience healing and restoration through the beautiful story of the gospel. Coffee shops are great. But coffee shops aren't the church. The question I ask myself is, "Why should we let Starbucks have all the fun?"
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