Think Starbucks Is Undermining Christ With Their New Cups? Then We Need to Have a Talk.

Starbucks has released it’s new “holiday season” cups with no specific reference to Christmas. Many Christians are ranting about the loss of the reason for the season. According to Jeffrey Fields, Starbucks vice president of design and content, this year, Starbucks “wanted to usher in the holidays with purity of design that welcomes all of our stories,” Fields wrote. He said that the coffee chain “has become a place of sanctuary during the holidays,” so it’s “embracing the simplicity and quietness of it.”

Alright Christians, let’s talk about three things:

1. Christians need to learn from Starbucks. When I am dreaming up creative ideas and working with our teams at church about how we can welcome people into our congregation, I often say things like “we want to be a place and a community where everyone is welcome, no matter their story. Christ changes people’s hearts from the inside-out. We don’t ask people to change their behavior first, we allow Christ to do that over time, we work to help people belong.”

Starbucks has been a master-teacher at “creating community.” In fact they have coined that concept and many church leaders have studied their successful approach. Here again, Starbucks wants to create a sanctuary that welcomes all of our stories. I LOVE IT! Makes me want to drink more lattes and spend more time meeting people with diverse and divergent stories in a Starbucks, while drinking out of a generically-branded holiday cup.

2. America is not a Christian nation and Starbucks is not a Christian company. Don’t worry I’m not getting into politics here, except to state the obvious, but not-so-obvious-to-many-Christians fact that our faith in Christ as Lord and God as Father is not central to the Constitution nor is it a corporate commitment of Starbucks. Christians do more harm and create more division in a Christ-dishonoring way by expecting and demanding that the social institutions of our society adhere to our faith. That is why we have the church. Starbucks is not the church nor is the government.

For millennia, Christians have been living in and among non-Christians and in the midst of non-believing governments. Yes, for a few decades America has CULTURALLY reflected some Christian values, and Starbucks CULTURALLY reflects some great parts of our faith (coffee included). But don’t start pushing people away because they don’t believe as we believe. Take the other road, the one that the apostle Paul followed:

1 Corinthians 9:22b “I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some.”

Live in such a way that you compel people towards Christ! By your love, by your winsomeness, by your joy, by your friendliness. What better way to do this then by sitting in a Starbucks with a smile and genuine care in our hearts, while holding generically-branded holiday cups, asking people their stories and not shoving a cultural expectation of using the term Christmas into the dialogue.

3. Pull the plank out of our own eye first. If as Christians we want to talk about forgetting the reason for the season, let’s first be humbly honest with ourselves. When I look at my own life around Christmastime, I am the greatest cause of pulling Christ out of Christmas. I have filled my schedule so jam-packed, I have turned the holiday into a capitalist, get and give the most you can, I have overlooked the poor and rather than given sacrificially to those in need, given a token gift to appease my own guilt.

If we want to start pointing fingers at the cause of Christ being forgotten around the holidays, let’s focus on ourselves. Let’s invest all of that evaluative energy into letting Christ shine through our own lives and through our churches this Christmas season. We can probably use some good devotional time reading through the gospels, reflecting on Christ, while sitting in a Starbucks with a generically-branded red cup. Who knows, while there, we might have the opportunity to share a kind word with stranger.

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4 comments

  1. Well said, Craig. They are not Christians. They are a corporation designed to make lots of money selling coffee. Praise them for their marketing model, and criticize them for their p*## poor coffee rather than their religious views. I feel more concerned with America’s (including Christian) addiction to coffee and overpriced coffee at that.

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  2. Couldn’t agree more Craig. Starbucks is a great place for community to begin or to grow. The pattern in social media is so predictable. Identify a social issue however trivial and pile on criticism.
    I too believe in our Lord and Savior, and have had several faith conversations at our local Starbucks. Thanks for this excellent post.

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