We were visiting in Williamsburg, Virginia and decided to see what churches were available so we turned to the Yellow pages in the phone book in our hotel.
I suppose competing for church visitors is pretty hard these days but it’s been awhile since I looked through church ads in the Yellow pages. It was quite an eye opener.
One church attempted to attract visitors by it’s large display ad promoting their choice of dress as ”casual clothing” and their choice of drink as “Starbucks coffee.” I’m not kidding. We didn’t attend the church although I periodically do enjoy a strong cup of coffee.
Both features are worthy of comment but in today’s post we will examine the coffee.
Our ALFN reporter did some research on this matter and discovered that a Barna survey among 700 potential church goers determined that 76.23% of those surveyed feel churches generally have bad coffee.
Freddie Smith, a twenty-something IT specialist was interviewed by phone. “I tried several churches but they all had really bad coffee. It’s gonna take a lot for me to ever try church again. If the coffee is bad what does that say regarding whatever else they have to offer?”
Mick Tome serves on his church’s S&W committee in Mount Hope, Washington to identify strengths and weaknesses in his church. “We realized we just weren’t making the grade with our coffee and pastries so we spent 3 hours discussing this”, he shared. “We tested various coffees and pastries and sought the Lord on this matter. We are going with Seattle’s Best (a regional favorite) for coffee and Panara Bread for pastries. Sister Martha had been getting the pastries Saturday night at the local Piggly Wiggly but will now be traveling 75 miles early each Sunday morning to Walla Walla to get an assortment of fresh pastries from the nearest Panara Bread.”
Pastor Wally Cleaver from Hinkletown, PA shared of his burden for souls and his contention that one of the greatest hindrances to reaching the lost in our generation is bad coffee in church. He sees their use of Starbucks as a means of fulfilling the Great Commission. Pastor Cleaver wiped a tear from his eyes as he recalls the years of bad coffee as his church used the cheapest they could get from the Ollie’s Bargain Outlet in nearby Lancaster. “How could we have missed something so obvious?” he stated.
Pastor Eddie Haskell serves a country church near Hickory, North Carolina. “The coffee really isn’t an issue for us”, Haskell reports, “any hot, black coffee is fine but our people and community know good pastries. We are going with Krispy Kreme and everybody is really happy. We’ve seen several new families start coming.” He added, “Our special ‘Christian’ weight loss program is also growing and we are considering forming a committee to study what is contributing to this growth.”
Starbucks spokesman Wilfed Stoner shared his enthusiasm on these marketing agreements. “The coffee cafe in local churches represents a massive new market for us”
ALFN finally interviewed Dr. Perry Minson, distinguished professor of church growth at Fuller Theological Seminary who has studied this issue extensively. “I am not surprised at these developments. We are seeing churches becoming more and more user friendly. Churches are studying enhancements such as quality pew padding (partnering with Sealy mattress), valet parking and bottled water. For instance we find churches that provide bottled water have a 3.2% increase in their retention over water coolers” stated Minson.
In our research on church promotion techniques AFLN found little reference to terms such as Biblical preaching, sound doctrine, holy living or hymns. In fact these terms seem to be a real turnoff to “seekers”.
Pastor Chip Stallworth, pastor of the “We’re Cooler” Center in Castro Valley, California said these terms are anathema to today’s modern church. “The closest we would ever use is ‘relevant teaching’ but never ‘Biblical preaching'”, he stated as he sipped from his mint creamy latte. “We always seek to be relevant. That’s the main thing!”