John Alan Turner

Speaker, Author, Mentor, Coach, Facilitator

Jesus Is Not Your Barista

For the record, I remember a time when an elder in the church suggested that the ministers on staff should not listen to secular radio stations in their offices for fear that the slippery slope of "gradualism" might tempt them to want to bring such secular music into the sanctuary. Of course, the word "sanctuary" was not used. "Auditorium" was the word, but the gravitas normally attached to the word "sanctuary" was clearly intended.

I've visited churches where food and drink were expressly forbidden. "Eat and drink on your own time, or keep it in the Fellowship Hall."

I even remember the debate over whether or not women would be allowed to wear pants in the assembly. "First it'll be women wearing pants, then it'll be men wearing blue jeans. Before you know it, we'll all be in shorts, tank tops and flip-flops."

I have no desire to go back to those small-minded arguments. And yet....

I do wonder if we're shooting ourselves in the foot with the vast amount of time, money and creative energy we spend on creating "Irresistible Environments" -- complete with intelligent lighting, fog machines, come-as-you-are informality and the ubiquitous coffee bar.

There's a saying: "What you win people with is what you win people to." I'm not sure I agree with it completely, but there's at least a kernel of truth in there that I think we need to think about. Is it possible to become so reliant upon gimmicks and graphics that we fail to remember how reliant we are upon God to provide whatever increase we enjoy?

More to the point, if people are showing up because our band is really tight and our espresso is really strong, will they come back when Jesus asks them to put down their nets (or guitars or lattes), take up the instrument of their own death and follow him? Or will they ask Jesus to water it down a little, add a little foam or some whipped cream on top?

Serve them coffee. Serve them donuts. Serve them a full continental breakfast. Just be sure to remind them that Jesus may be many things to many people, but Jesus is not your barista.