Enjoy your Starbucks, but don’t think it makes you a better — or worse — person

For those who haunt places like Starbucks, you can sometimes get the impression that you’re doing much more than enjoying a $5 drink. What? Well, according to the Starbucks itself (from the back of a cup): Everything we do, you do. You stop by for a coffee. And just by doing that, you let Starbucks but more coffee from farmers who are good to their workers, community and planet. Starbucks bought 65% of our coffee this way last year–228 million pounds–and we’re working with farmers to make it 100%. It’s using our size for good, and you make it all possible. Way to go, you” (emphasis original).

This kind of ultra-coolness can go to your head. So much so that people say things like: “I think we have managed to, with a simple cup of coffee and a very unique experience, enhance the lives of millions of people by re-creating a sense of community, by bringing people together and recognizing the importance of place in people’s lives.” That’s actually a statement from Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz, as quoted in Bryant Simon’s new book “Learning About America from Starbucks,” which tells us in bits and snippets how Starbucks shapes our lives.

Kevin DeYoung, in a great post at his Gospel Coalition blog, cuts through a lot of the baloney with some great insights. For one, he says churches have almost nothing to learn from how to be a “community” from Starbucks. Rather, DeYoung says, you would do better reading Ephesians. As far as coffee culture, don’t get too wrapped up in being cool or uncool, hip or unhip. You’re not saving the world with you five-cent donation, but enjoying coffee and coffee house trappings is not the worst thing in the world either. Enjoy your coffee, by all means, but love your neighbor as yourself. That’s good advice from the Bible, not a coffee cup.

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