Tuesday, October 19, 2010
Starbucks May Take Away the "Christian Bar Scene"
So, apparently Starbucks is going to start serving beer and wine. For the record, I have no problem with this. But it does make me wonder what will happen to the hip Christian social scene. Let me explain.
In a world that is increasingly digital and detached, there are few remaining places where people go to gather and interact with other human beings, you know, a place "where everybody knows your name." Remaining places include hair salons/barber shops, bars and, in recent years, coffee shops.
It seems that with the emergence of coffee shops, Christians latched on to their drug-of-choice, i.e. caffeine. After all, the Bible talks several times about getting drunk, but never once does Paul mention the 3x a day venti latte/espresso/mocha/macchiato trend. And so, for the Christian population, coffee shops have all the advantage of meeting the culture at a popular hub without the stigma of a bar. It's trendy, it's hip, it's church meeting culture in the way Martin Luther did in the 16th century.
Before I go any further, a few disclaimers: I often work in a coffee shop. I even host a gathering called Java with Jenn every Wednesday morning in a coffee shop. I know every barista in my local coffee shop and they know me. I like it. I also make the occasional visit to bars, typically when our church's worship leader is providing the music and half of my congregation is in attendance.
So what happens when coffee shops start serving beer and wine? Do we still hold Bible studies in coffee shops? Do we still make coffee shops our meeting place for casual and official conversations?
I hope so.
Not because it's trendy. Not because it's edgy. Not because it's hip. But because Jesus told us to make disciples of all people, and that requires going to where people are. I love coffee shops. I love the fact that there is a group of guys in their 40s, 50s and 60s that I share friendly banter with in the morning, a retired school teacher who brings in her books and talks with me about her love of theater and a 22-year old barista named Travis who is dreaming big about going to New York someday to open a restaurant.
So, Starbucks, do your thing. I hope the church can continue to take some hints about creating environments that encourage conversation and human interaction, environments where life is being shared. (and no, I'm not suggesting churches start serving beer and wine before or after worship)
What do y'all think?