Outed at Starbucks


Here’s yet another reason why I try not to patronize Starbucks. I do however, enjoy Peet’s Coffee, even though there is an angry server there who hates me with a passion; that story will be told next week.


If you follow this blog, you may remember reading a while back about a coffee house ministry that I was involved in for the last four months at a local Starbucks. (Two gals, Anita and Liz, had been asked to play and sing there on Tuesday nights.
nullnull They set up a tract table, and then they allowed me to tag along to share the gospel on the mike a couple of times a night. Read the story here.)

Well, about three weeks ago the assistant manager happened to be in while we were there. Normally she was not there while we were “performing;” in fact, I had never even seen her, only the other two gals had talked to her before. And although nothing was ever hidden from her, we all had our doubts that she really understood what we were doing. Last Tuesday evening she picked up one of our coffee trivia tracts. Then she came around to me as I was standing by the tract table.
null She walked up holding it and said, “This is really great!” I had no idea who she was and I immediately assumed she was a Christian who had read the gospel message and was telling how great she thought this outreach was. I started reaching for a copy of Hell’s Best Kept Secret to hand to her while saying offhandedly, “So, you’re a Christian?” She looked puzzled and replied, “No.” I stopped reaching for HBKS and sort of stood there awkwardly trying to figure out what in the world she thought was “great.” She paused for a second then continued, “I think this coffee trivia is a great way to expand the coffee house experience. I’d like to share this with all the other managers at our regional meeting (or something like that). Would that be alright?” Now I knew who she was. “Um, sure,” I peeped. And then I thought to myself, Well, that’s it… when we arrive next week, after she’s read that thing all the way through, we’re outa here.

The next week we arrived; all three of us expecting to see her standing there scowling… but there was nothing. We did the outreach as usual, all of us surprised. The week after that, it was the same… no one stopped us. Then it finally happened.

The girls had already set up and were ready to begin when a different assistant manager came up very apologetically, but somewhat coldly, saying that we were welcome to play music and sing, but we would not be allowed to pass out literature or “ask those questions” on the mike anymore. She said that they liked the coffee trivia paper but that on the back when it started talking about our “religion” it sounded very “exclusive”—as if it was the only right religion. She also said that a customer had complained about us asking those “questions” on the mike, and she didn’t think it was appropriate.

Anita was very gracious and friendly to her. She told the assistant manager that if we weren’t going to be allowed to pass out the literature or talk to people on the mike then it wouldn’t be worth our time to be there. The manager again said she didn’t want to offend us, but these were Starbucks’ policies. Anita told her that we understood and we thanked them very much for the opportunity we’d had already. Then Anita told her that God had used them to spread the gospel over the last four months. We had a very amiable parting.

The three of us sat down and had a cup of coffee. We figured out that over the last four months we’ve probably given out more than 2,000 tracts and well over 100 CDs and DVDs; in addition we verbally preached the Gospel to several hundred people. What a fruitful window of opportunity God gave us here. He actually blinded the eyes of Starbucks management for more than four months so that He could accomplish His own purposes.

Read two other Starbucks stories: “God of Starbucks” where I ask the question: “Should Christians patronize Starbucks?” and “The Shepherd of Brokeback Mountain,” an encounter with a gay Barista.

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