Church like Starbucks?

Talking about change and the church made me think of an article I read about Starbucks struggle in the last few years. The author talked about the tension and the trade-off between a quality experience and the ease of convenience.

I’m rephrasing a quote from the article: Church-goers… “are willing to give up convenience for a great experience, or ditch the experience for great convenience.” Anything in between the author suggests doesn’t have a market today– like music CDs, newspapers, and desktop Windows-based PCs. For church attenders, It’s just so tempting to stay home and watch on-line or listen to a podcast.

His study of the most successful products and services found that they tend to focus and be good at one or the other- experience OR convenience, but not both. In the beginning, Starbucks founder and creator Schultz said the goal was to be “an oasis — a small escape during a day when so many other things are beating you down.”

I think we as church leaders struggle with the same tendency as the used-to-success Starbucks gurus did. “They wanted Starbucks to be available at every moment, everywhere. At the same time, they wanted Starbucks to be unique.” We have to fight against the urge to multiply programs or copy the church down the street. We have to work to hold onto our identity– what can we do best in our community and culture to spread the Gospel? WHY will they come and stay and bring others?

Schultz has again taken on the CEO role to try and bring Starbucks back. He said, “It reminds me of the old days when our company was very creative, very entrepreneurial, and we were fighting for survival and respect.” It makes me think of the church and how I hope we can do that too. What does it make you think?

(Flickr image originally uploaded on July 20, 2007 by d’n’c)