The Church of Starbucks

Whatever happened to the coffee house in the church basement? It’s gone corporate, like everything else. The excuse offered here is that churchgoers need to relax. Silly me, I thought that was the point of the long, boring sermon. And I’ve never thought of caffeine as a relaxant. Perhaps they should try handing out marijuana brownies before the service. Or, I don’t know, just try being a little less white…

These days, along with the usual sermons, places of worship are quenching more literal forms of thirst, too.

Those who crave Starbucks can step over to a kiosk at Grace Capital Church in Pembroke, N.H….

“Starbucks has done what churches should have done a long time ago, and that’s to become more people-friendly,” says the Rev. Peter Bonanno, senior pastor of Grace Capital Church. “It’s not so much the coffee as the environment the coffee and the coffee bar create – a relaxed, relational, and fun place. We hope to create an environment that we believe is more biblical than [conventionally] religious.”

Parishioners seem satisfied. The kiosk opened in July, and visitors say the building that houses it “feels more like a Starbucks … than a church,” says Mr. Bonanno. Since July, average Sunday attendance has doubled to 550.

“More biblical.” What do you suppose that means? Do the baristas sacrifice a fatted calf in between serving up double lattes?

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