Revolutionary Sunday School Leaders Should Take a Field Trip to Starbucks

Tuesday 27th March, 2007

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If you have been to Starbucks, you will understand what I am about to write. If not, I want to encourage you to take a field trip. Go to Starbucks to observe. Write down your observations. How does the experience at Starbucks compare to the experience members and guests have in your Sunday School?

After your field trip, let's start a dialogue. What did you see? What did you smell? What did you hear? How were you treated? How did the environment make you feel? Which of your observations might teach us lessons about making Sunday School a revolutionary experience?

Virgil Grant, pastor at Eastside in Richmond, sent me a link to a great article by Anthony Coppedge, a church media consultant. It is entitled Required Church Staff Field Trip to Starbucks. Hit the link to the article, then come back to finish this blog entry and leave your comments by pressing the button below.

Anthony observes three major impacts of Starbucks: consistently superior service, excellent environments, and the goal of being the third place between work and home. Like Anthony, I have observed several lessons revolutionary Sunday Schools need to learn. Without completely repeating some that he lists, here are a few:

  • LESSON ONE: Smell is one of the most powerful of our senses. I have been in too many churches that have bad odors in bathrooms, classrooms, hallways, and preschool areas. When you walk in the door at Starbucks, you are greeted by great aromas. Revolutionary Sunday School should work to offer members and guests the same aromatic experience. I am confident any cost will be more than made up in the blessings of new people God will send to your church family!
  • LESSON TWO: The environment of Starbucks makes you enjoy just hanging out. Many churches lack that kind of space. Foyers and hallways are small. Occasionally the fellowship hall offers coffee, but not much lounging space. Recently I have encountered a couple of churches with "cafe" type space, both actually for youth. Revolutionary Sunday School should capitalize on opportunities for connections to take place before and after (maybe even during) class.
  • LESSON THREE: Starbucks wants customer service to be a positive, proactive experience. So should revolutionary Sunday School. Instead of waiting to be asked for directions and help, we should be offering a geniune smile, greetings, and assistance, like "Welcome to Friendship Baptist Church. How may I make your experience today great?" Greeters should be stationed in the parking lot, church doorway, welcome center, worship, and in every classroom. Remember the first and last 10 minutes guests are on your premises have significant opportunity for impact. Make them special!

Having read Anthony's article and the three lessons I shared, what additional lessons would you add? Press the comments below and share your thoughts. Let's stop going through the motions week after week. Instead, let's offer experiences with God and His people that make members and guests glad they came and want to come back! Be revolutionaries!

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