The Need Starbucks Meets…Sort of

StarbucksI think I’ve figured out the lure of Starbucks.

By way of full disclosure I should probably mention I am sitting in a Starbucks as I write this, waiting for the wife to finish shopping.

The people at this Starbucks are acting like people I’ve seen at other Starbucks: they are sitting at their tables with their book and computers, reading and working, but not talking to anyone around them.

These people, I’ve concluded, are not here because of the coffee. There is probably better coffee at other places. I believe many go to Starbucks for a different reason. They go because “It is not good for man to be alone.” Gen. 2:18.

Many people go to Starbucks so they don’t have to be alone. They go for a type of community. They don’t want to talk to other people around them. They are not there to make friends or build relationships. They just want to be around other people. So many go that they have made an unbelievably successful franchise out of the ostensibly mundane business of selling a cup of coffee. There is definitely something more Starbucks is providing.

Starbucks provides a faux-community that fills a void at a time, particularly in America, when fewer people are going to a local church where they would experience real community. The baristas are trained to act like they care about you, to make you feel loved, but it’s not real. They don’t really know you. Real community is much messier and much more rewarding than the kind Starbucks provides.

In a local church, if you stay long enough you are sure to get offended and probably hurt. You also will likely offend and hurt others, assuming, of course, you are human. But in a church you will have the opportunity to work through those offenses and build real relationships. You will also learn about what you do that offends and hurts others, and you will have the opportunity to change and grow as a person.

At Starbucks you don’t need to worry about being offended or challenged by others because of the hurtful things you may unknowingly do or say. You will not get close enough to anyone for that to happen. You will also never build a real relationship at Starbucks. You may see the same people occasionally. You may exchange greetings or smiles, but you won’t experience the messy and rewarding real deal.

It is not good for man to be alone, but some solutions are better than others. At Starbucks you might get temporary relief from loneliness, and you can certainly get a temporary boost from caffeine, but if you are looking for what will really scratch the itch, you need to check out a local church. If they are like my church, you may even be greeted with a cup of Starbucks coffee. GS


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