Starbucks & Willow Creek
I love Starbucks.
I’m a frequent customer there.
My daughter is going to start working at a local Starbucks.
I was excited to see that Howard Schultz, CEO of Starbucks, was going to be one of the speakers at the Willow Creek Global Leadership Summit. The Summit is a two-day conference designed for church, ministry, and business leaders to glean the best ideas from top businessmen, academics, preachers, and theologians.
I was disappointed to learn that Schultz canceled his speaking engagement at the conference because of an online petition calling the Willow Creek mega-church anti-gay and threatening to organize a boycott of Starbucks if he spoke there.
About 720 people signed the petition. Schultz’s decision doesn’t really make business sense to me: why turn down a speaking opportunity with 165,000 global attendees over a petition signed by less than a thousand people? But I’m sure the political controversy could be more than anyone would want to deal with.
I was extremely impressed by Bill Hybel’s remarks on Schultz’s decision. If you take about 5 minutes you can view his full comments, you’ll see his gracious response to the situation. His tone is filled with respect, understanding and grace.
Hybels said the association let the Starbucks CEO out of his contract without penalties and he encouraged the summit's attendees (an estimated 165,000, between the main church campus and 450 other locations) -
- to write encouraging notes to the company – “with genuine Christian love, just communicate to Howard that our churches are open to anybody and we would love to have you back at the summit someday.”
- to buy Schultz's new book on leadership, Onward, saying, "It’s one of the best leadership books I’ve read in a long time."
- to buy Starbucks coffee.
Hybels said he is also trying to meet with the creators of the petition to see if they can talk with a reconciling spirit, and see if they can come to a better understanding and a point of mutual respect.
This situation as well as some comments by Bill Hybels brought to my mind a few thoughts, that I thought I should share with you as Lead Pastor of Oasis Church. Many of Bill’s comments mirror my own thoughts as well.
1. As Christians, and at Oasis Church, we are not anti-anybody.
Our church operates on the idea that people matter to God. All people of all backgrounds, all colors, ethnicities, and sexual orientation. All people.
Our attitude is always, “Welcome."
Jesus Christ died for everyone who has ever lived.
For 27 years we have opened our door to the widest array of humanity, and thousands have come to learn the teachings of Jesus.
The idea that we reject people because sexual orientation or any other kind of issue at our front door is simply not true.
Now what is true is that we challenge homosexuals and heterosexuals to live out the sexual ethics taught in the Scriptures. But even as we challenge all of our people to these biblical standards, we do so with grace-filled spirits, knowing the confusion and brokenness that is rampant in our fallen world.
And at Oasis we honor the journey of everyone who is sincerely attempting to follow Jesus Christ.
2. As Christians, and at Oasis Church, we build our lives on what we are for, not what we are against.
I believe it is the love of God that draws people to Him. It is the faith that Jesus initiates that impacts us. It is our vision that inspires us, not our fears or regrets.
In Romans chapter 2 we read, “It’s God’s kindness that leads to repentance.” We are inspired to change and turn toward God when we become aware of His unconditional love for us.
I cringe when I see people carrying signs that say, “God hates this or that” – to me it just means ‘I hate this or that’. I hear people supposedly representing God by preaching into a loud speaker – declaring some hate filled rhetoric and I think
“Bro – you are not helping anyone. Bless you for your boldness but you are turning people away from God and His church - not to them.”
It seems to me that those who would sign a petition and threaten a boycott against Starbucks – are demonstrating the same intolerance toward others they that resent being shown toward them.
Let’s build our life on where we are going and what we want to accomplish – rather than building our life on – putting someone else down. Let’s build our life on what we are for not what we are against.
3. As Christians, and at Oasis Church, we need to learn to respectfully disagree.
Jesus taught us to treat everybody with respect, believe the best about others, seek to understand others when we might disagree - and if we must disagree then attempt to do so respectfully.
For centuries, Christians and non-Christians have expressed hate for people who have different views and behaviors than their own. This is both sad and wrong - especially when the disagreement is over an interpretation of God's Word.
We have to be willing to have different views and opinions than others but still have a respect for them. As Christ followers, we must lead the way in seeking to understand.
These controversial issues are not going away. We are not going to survive together if we cannot lovingly accept people with different views and yet still confidently express our own.
So in closing...
I will continue to buy my Starbucks coffee.
I will read the book Onward – to learn more about the topic of leadership.
I will express my gratitude for leaders like Bill Hybels.
And I will be more aware of how I articulate my faith so that I do not present myself as anti –anyone, but pro-Jesus.