The Church of Starbucks

My Starbucks would beat your Starbucks any day of the week.  Or your Caribou or your Dunn Bros or your Pub.

Or maybe your church.

Just sayin’.

Like at Cheers, at my Starbucks everybody knows your name.

Nobody’s perfect and all are welcome.

The breakfast club of octogenarians who remind me of the Muppet guys who sit in the balcony of the theater and kibbitz.  Loudly.

And the tall guy, Phillip, from London, who arrives before 6 and hangs out for hours talking soccer and all things British to the baristas and anyone who happens to be around.

There’s the dad who brings his two sons in every day before school, and the lonely single woman who needs friends.  And the group of friends who come every weekend, wearing Vikings jerseys and do the NYTimes crossword puzzles together.

Libby shares inspirational quotes.  Tim greets customers with a hug.

Gary gave me some of his homemade apple butter the other day.

And why are we surprised at the success of this little coffee shop?  Planted in each of us is this desire to know and be known.  We are drawn to those places where there’s even a whiff of community.

A faint reminder of Eden, where there was no hiding and no pretending.

Like the delightful scent of baking bread floating from the kitchen, we know there’s something good to be found.



If someone is too loud, I put on my headphones.  If I don’t want to talk to a regular, I bury my head in a book.  I don’t know last names or where people live.  I haven’t changed their baby’s diaper or brought them chicken noodle soup when they’ve been sick, or bailed them out of jail.  I’m not committed to anyone.

We’re “Minnesota nice”, but if not convenient, we can change seats or walk out the door.  I can always turn away.  And I do.

I’ve been thinking about the early church, and how they did “Starbucks” better than Starbucks.  Look what Luke writes in Acts…

Acts 2:42-47 (MSG) They committed themselves to the teaching of the apostles, the life together, the common meal, and the prayers.

 Everyone around was in awe—all those wonders and signs done through the apostles! And all the believers lived in a wonderful harmony, holding everything in common. They sold whatever they owned and pooled their resources so that each person’s need was met.

They followed a daily discipline of worship in the Temple followed by meals at home, every meal a celebration, exuberant and joyful, as they praised God.

There are some hard words in this descriptor: committed, discipline, everything in common…

The difference that strikes me is that even with the VDP’s (very difficult people), and even in the face of sacrifice, there was a commitment to turning towards each other, and not away.

So the other day I was at a large church function and someone said something mean and loudly public, and to my mind untrue.

It wasn’t until the following day that I realized I had “Starbucksed”  her.

At the end of the meeting, I turned away.  Because it was hard to face her.  And talk to her.  And continue to love her even though I didn’t like her at all in the moment.

I had the chance to be the church instead of just being Starbucks and I blew it.

Where have you experienced true community?

2 thoughts on “The Church of Starbucks

  1. Great observation, Laura. I have been convicted of this “starbucking” in my own family, when I would prefer to walk away from a difficult person who often hurt my feelings. It was an act of emotional protection to simply meet basic needs, then vacate their space and avoid conversation. When the Lord told me one day to turn the other cheek with this person, I knew he meant I should not walk away when offended but take a deep breath, call on His spirit and turn back to that person, face them, and love them with undeserved love. Again and again and again. I put this to the test that very day and the Lord showed me I CAN do all things through him who gives me strength! (It basically changed my heart toward this person over the course of time and resulted in many moments of joy — though I still struggle!) Re-engaging with difficult or insulting or sarcastic or highly opinionated (with the “wrong” opinion) person is a work of surrendering my pride and allowing God to live his life of grace out through me. I cannot do this but God can do it through me! “I am the LORD, the God of all mankind. Is anything too hard for me?” Jeremiah 32:27. May God bless you this day, Laura! I appreciate your thoughtful posts.


    • Such great thoughts, Kathy! Thanks for sharing so authentically how HARD community is! I so appreciate your reminder that it’s only God’s Spirit that enables us to do the really tough work of forgiveness and healing our hearts. Certainly there are times when it’s not safe to continue in relationship, but I’m thankful that you’ve experienced small steps towards changing your posture towards your “VDP”. I trust God has used you in the life of this “other” in ways you may not even realize yet. I’m thankful for your example!


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