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The next time I walk into church and see someone getting a cup of coffee I will be tempted to walk up to them and say, “Javalujah!”
Is this what church has become? Frankly, the fact that this comparison/parable even exists scares me.
Starbucks is focused on selling a product, and that’s it. Sure, they might also be focused on saving the environment on earth day, but is there any depth past the numbers? When you market the church is it focused on selling a product?
If churches focus too much on “selling” church as a product, or focusing too much on running it like a business, then church wil become cold and number focused. Now I think Starbucks is great. I’m not trying to say anything bad about Starbucks or its employees. I am sure that they are all great people. I am simply drawing comparisons between church and a business. I ask if Starbucks, as a general whole, genuinely cares about the people that walk through the door? I would think that for most businesses those people are just a number, money in the cash register.
I would argue that church marketing does not have to be focused on making the church run more like a business. The focus of church marketing should be on the people that can be reached. It’s about creating a warm, loving, inviting environment, making visitors feel like they are welcomed no matter if they are new or what they are wearing, it’s about truly welcoming them with the love of Christ. It’s about getting your church out there and making it known that people are welcome. It’s about making opportunities for real, genuine growth of a person through events for children, small groups, searching, learning, and fellowship with followers of Christ.
When you go to a Starbucks do they really care about the people that come in or what they truly need? A person who walks into Starbucks may be searching for more than just their morning cup of coffee, but do all baristas at Starbucks really care about filling that need? I’m sure some of them do, maybe even a majority of them. They may greet you with a “hey, welcome to Starbucks,” but do they really mean to welcome you in with open and accepting arms?
It’s scary to think that the church can fall into the trap of fitting in with the consumerism of the world around us. People can just become a number of people who have been in a service on Sunday. Are those that are being saved just a number added to the stats sheet or is their something more? What is their story? How did they come to Christ? What is their life all about? Are the people walking into your church every Sunday just a number or a creation of Christ to be known and loved?
If your visitors aren’t returning are you too much like a Starbucks? There are Starbucks all over the country, and people hop from Starbucks to Starbucks as a matter of convenience. Do people stick to a certain one because they really care or because they have good service? Do you target your worship service so that everyone will love it and come back for the service or is there something more?
Do you communicate the message of Christ’s love to everyone who comes in the door? Do they know without a doubt that they are welcomed and accepted? Do you follow up? Do you see real, honest, heart-change in the people that your church encounters?
These are the questions that churches need to ask themselves through how they are marketing themselves. What is the community perception of the church? Are you a church that satisfies the outer wants (I need coffee) or do you address the inner needs of people (the need for Christ and a Christ-filled community).
One closing thought: has church become just another Starbucks (or any business)? Do you go there just to get a cup of coffee and surface fellowship? Or is there a deeper need that the church is filling? Something that cannot have a price tag put with it?