The Heresy of Application
Bonhoeffer and the Emerging Church: Ph.D. Application Paper

Starbucks, Branding and Megachurches

Starbucks If you want to read a little argument about why or why not churches should be more like Starbucks, read Skye Jethani's post "Burned by Branding: What churches can learn from the anti-Starbucks movement" at Out of Ur.  After the post, there are a huge number of argumentative comments regarding whether megachurches are good or not.  This is not the most civilized or clear discussion ever but if you have never thought much about this topic, it is not a bad introduction to the variety of opinions.  I decided it wasn't worth my time to study, sort through, clarify, refute and support the various opinions but I can give you my three-sentence conclusion.   

In short, as churches I think we can learn a lot from Starbucks (warmth, quality, friendliness, casual, atmosphere) but I think churches need to be relentlessly adaptive to their local settings.  Similarly, I really like learning from megachurch people because they tend to be outreach-driven, smart, passionate, serious-about-quality and hard-working.  But I cringe a bit when I sometimes hear pure pragmaticism ("Only souls in heaven matter. The ends justify the means") or the conviction that their way is the only way ("99% of other churches don't understand evangelism").   


I have written best about megachurches here about Rick Warren's Purpose Driven Church and here about Andy Stanley's leadership ideas.  All my articles that touch on the megachurch topic are here. By the way, the Purpose-Driven organization no longer exists and has been folded back into Saddleback Church.  See here. (H/T Church Marketing Sucks).       

The people at Church Marketing Sucks (one of my top 10 favorite blogs) are very helpful in thinking through this whole issue of good branding and marketing for the church.  They actually understand marketing and are trying to use it to help churches get better at reaching non-Christians.