As you know, I work on developing interactive/experiential worship elements and I work at Starbucks. I didn’t event think about it until someone asked the question 'how does your church break down the barriers between the stage and congregation'?
I work to design worship experiences that connect people (to God). Therefore I focus on 5S (five senses) experiential (let them get involved) elements. What I design and how I work at Starbucks are interconnected.
Breaking through the barrier is sort of like working at Starbucks. When Howard Shultz started Starbucks, one of the things they couldn’t quite understand in the beginning is why people felt so connected when they went to Starbucks.
Think about it, even people who don’t drink coffee will usually find something they like (and there is plenty of other drinks there), so they can meet and hang out with their friends at Starbucks.
Here are a couple ways that we could apply Starbucks techniques to church:
Chatter: We chatter with each other a lot (calling drinks out is an intentional tool). The chattering creates an atmosphere of inclusiveness. Before and after worship…chatter (from stage), let people hear your chatter, call out to people (before and after worship). Reach out and meet a new friend each week. Invite people to join you on stage.
Get To Know Their Stories: At Starbucks we really work at getting to know people. Not only their drinks, but as we have time, really connecting with our customers. I could tell you story after story after story about the guests at my Starbucks. We strive to create legendary customer service “one cup at a time”.
For church try to create a connection “one Sunday at a time”. At church I try to meet at least one new person each week, and really take time to get to know them. Even if it is only 5 minutes. And I make it all about them, I only chime in when there is something we “connect” over, like living in New Mexico, love Brazilian food, love Starbucks…
Third Place: We work very hard at creating what we call “the third place” environment. The basic theory behind it is that people need to connect in three places in their lives. Decades ago, those three places were home, work and church. When people started leaving church in droves, they looked for a “third place” to connect. People try bars, clubs, the internet…
I have always been intentional about designing worship elements to “include” the people off stage. I have just never written it all down before. I’m going to have to think more about this, this is a really great train of thought to explore. I need to write a book called “Starbucks Evangelism”.
Books to read: Howard Schulz’s book, “Pour Your Heart Into It” and subsequently “The Great Good Place” and “Celebrating the Third Place (inspiring communities)” by Ray Oldenburg.
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