Three Ways Ministry Parallels the McCafé vs. Skinny Latté Battle

Who would have ever thought? McDonalds versus Starbucks—the McCafé versus a Skinny Latté. But that is exactly what’s happening. McDonalds is expanding its McCafé across Europe, with plans to open hundreds of new stores by the end of the year.

It’s interesting to see how these two retail food chains are starting to duke it out—for customers. Since Starbucks entered the retail market, it created a sweeping change in how many of us, consumers, define a coffee experience.

Since the mid-90’s, coffee shops have sprung up over the US, from large metropolitan areas to small town Main Street—each creating its own coffee experience for customers.

It’s no surprise that McDonalds (along with other fast-food chains) quickly responded to the call and began to create their own product in the coffee war.

So, what are all of the businesses really doing? At the end of the day, they are trying to connect with the consumer on a level that 1) attracts them 2) gives them a product they enjoy, afford, etc., and 3) keeps them coming back.

Hmmmm . . . to a degree, isn’t that what we do in the ministry? No, we’re not pushing java, although some churches offer a full-blown café just outside the worship center.

Aren’t we in the business of attracting others (consumers) to come along side our vision, our story, and our cause? And while we don’t “sell,” we do have an incredible “product” to offer them, the person of Jesus Christ. And isn’t our purpose to keep them coming back—not for ourselves, but for their salvation, growth, depth and personal calling?

So, what can we learn from the media stories that chronicle what and how McDonalds is trying to gain first place in its market and how Starbucks is trying to maintain its hold?

I acknowledge how my perspective may be at odds with some philosophies of ministry and approaches to sharing the Gospel.

Parallels to the business world, or any other comparison, are raised in this post to merely engage thought—to question why and how we share the story with others that has so dramatically changed our own lives.

Let me offer these three practical take-aways:

1. Attraction: Is your ministry a place that attracts outsiders? Is it a warm, welcome and accepting place for those who have never known church or your place of service?

A Test: Do visitors come back? And if not, do we know why?

2. “Product:” How does your ministry present the Good News to those who have never known church? What “language” do we speak—in music and worship, from the podium, in small groups? Even some of the traditional hymns can get confusing to a newcomer.

An Exercise: Talk to new believers (think focus groups, interviews, etc.) and ask them about their personal experience. How did the ministry help them understand the message of salvation?

3. Returning for More: How does your ministry disciple new and not so new believers? Accepting Christ is the starting place! How many Christians never fully experience the joy of a relationship with Christ because they stay young in their faith?

Reflection: What are the next steps in your ministry when someone accepts Christ? Are new believers introduced to spiritual mentors? Are they taught how to read and study the Bible? By the way, it doesn’t stop with new believers. Christians of all ages need discipleship.

You know, offering a cup of coffee is a great way to start a conversation about Christ with someone.

And truthfully, initiating the conversation is much more important than the logo on the cup.

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