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The Gospel According to Starbucks: Living…
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The Gospel According to Starbucks: Living with a Grande Passion

by Leonard Sweet

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I love the title of this book and I love this book. I am not really a big fan of Starbucks or their coffee, however I continue to be amazed at the popularity and growth of this cultural phenomenon. The Gospel According to Starbucks: Living with a Grande Passion is by Leonard Sweet who is a United Methodist clergyperson, Evangelism Professor at Drew University and an observer and commentator about post-modernism. I have been a fan of Sweet and his writings for years including books such as AquaChurch: Essential Leadership Arts for Piloting Your Church in Today’s Fluid Culture. I have always wondered why so may people would be willing to stand in line for a Starbucks coffee when other cafes and coffee shops were empty. That is what the book tries to answer - what is it that makes people stand in line for Starbucks coffee? And then, Sweet looks at how principles of the Starbucks philosophy can be used within the church so that people will be fighting to get into the the church? What can the church learn about Starbucks and its philosophy that engenders such strong brand loyalty and how can we in the church learn from and use that?

Sweet extracts 4 principles from his reflection on Starbucks and its philosophy and from his analysis of the why people would stand in line to pay $4 for a cup of coffee. He uses the acronym EPIC to describe these 4 principles. Sweet argues that Starbucks connects with its customers by being EPIC and in the book he reflects on how Starbucks uses each principle and then explores the ways in which the church needs to become more Experiential, Participatory, Image-driven and Connected if it wants to connect with the cultures and contexts of this age. In all honesty, Sweet only uses the Starbucks reflections as a springboard into exploring and discussing EPIC culture.

Sweet does have some excellent reflections on Starbucks’ in-house jargon (grande, venti etc.), their emphasis on excellence in the training of their baristas, their décor, their out-of-the-box marketing strategies and so on. However, to give Sweet credit, this book isn’t really saying that the we, in the local church, should imitate the franchise and do “Starbucks” worship services. He is by no means saying that we should do away with ordinary church and worship as we know it now and have Zen meetings down at the local Starbucks. What he is saying is that Starbucks, and other emerging businesses, might be onto something. They both reflect and contribute to the cultural context, and he challenges us to, at least, pay attention.

As usual, Sweet manages to raise some interesting questions and forces us to reflect on how we can be church in an emerging culture and context. ( )
  rushans | May 5, 2008 |
The author examines some of the reasons Starbucks has grown to become such a successful corporation--and tries to draw out some lessons for Christians seeking to spread the gospel. He makes some good points, though this may be a bit too faddish for some. And non-Starbucks drinkers may not appreciate all of the references. ( )
  debs4jc | Sep 14, 2007 |
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Book description
You don't stand in line at Starbucks just to buy a cup of coffee. You stop for the experience surrounding the cup of coffee.
Too many of us line up for God out of duty or guilt. We completely miss the warmth and richness of the experience of living with God. If we'd learn to see what God is doing on earth, we could participate fully in the irresistible life that he offers.

You can learn to pay attention like never before, to identify where God is already in business right in your neighborhood. The doors are open and the coffee is brewing. God is serving the refreshing antidote to the unsatisfying, arms-length spiritual life---and he won't even make you stand in line. Let Leonard Sweet show you how the passion that Starbucks has for creating an irresistible experience can connect you with God's stirring introduction to the experience of faith.
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