Reading Rainbow – “The Gospel According To Starbucks”


starbucksbook.jpgMany of you have read through some of my book reviews. I took on a 10 books in 10 weeks discipline this Summer I called “Reading Rainbow”and it was incredible. I am going to continue to read and review books, but on a more relaxed pace. I will have at least a book a month I post about.

Tuesday night, after expressing my need to “Refresh”, I went home and picked up God’s Word and started to read through Isaiah. I’ve been wanting to dig into Isaiah for a while and as I study through it, I will talk about it here. Later that evening, I took my son to soccer practice and stayed in the car and finished a book I have been reading through this last month. It is “The Gospel According To Starbucks” by Leonard Sweet . I can’t express how much I have enjoyed this book. Sweet speaks to today’s “Church” with the intention of challenging us to a “Grande Passion”. The book is well written and easy to understand. Every page had highlights and challenges for me. If you are in church leadership, I HIGHLY recommend this book.

Sweet takes his time looking at why Starbucks has become such a phenomenon. He then looks at how the church has gone from being the “third space”(Home, Work, Third Place) in peoples lives to something people want to stay away from. He uses the acronym EPIC (Experience, Participation, Images, Connection) to describe what he sees as the need for passion filled Christian lives, actually lived out. Sweet takes some aim at misunderstood traits of the church, like christianese, experience and imagery. He hopes to encourage us not to completely abandon experience for doctrine. He talks passionately about the need for Christian example in our communities. Here is a quote,

“Life at it’s very best is a passionate experience, not a doctrinal dissertation. The problem is not that Christianity can’t be believed, but that it can’t be practiced because of it’s lack of lived experience. And it can’t be observed by others because there are too few Christians who are radical enough to manifest what the gospel really looks like.”


This book is creative and well researched. It is deep with spiritual wisdom, and what I like to call, God sense. It is full of Biblical common sense. He speaks about metaphors and the ultimate meta-narrative…Jesus. It looks at things by taking a step back and evaluating why businesses like Starbucks are succeeding. The point is, the church has failed to fill the void. Christians have not lived as examples. God has been replaced by other “idols”.

If you choose to read through, you will have a great time with all the information on coffee as well. Did you know that coffee is the Muslim “holy” drink? Here are some great quotes from the book.

“Imagine how different the Christian life would be if it was understood not as something to be observed in others – but as the one thing in life that has to be fully experienced.”

“If faith is not both and engagement and an experience, than it is little more than a good idea.”

“Christianity pushes the experiential dimension of faith into more expressional forms of emodiment. Rather than merely seeking experiences of God, we are invited to become a living expression of God.”

“For Christians, paradox is the midwife of truth. Where did we ever get this notion that truth is clear and singular? truth is better described as misty and multiple: it comes to those who are good at both standing still and journeying on.”

“The church lost credibility as a place for sacred relationship when it chose to specialize in formulating and advancing a better spiritual argument. The result is that people who came to the meeting house got connected with ideas and formulas more then they did with God and with other people.” 

“There is no greater challenge than to talk about God. We can talk about God only in language that come from our creatureliness and that explains why words fail us. God is beyond our creatureliness, beyond the categories of the world and culture. Still, words can begin to orient us toward God. if there is one thing we can say about God with absolute confidence, it is that the maker of the universe wants to have relationship with us.”


8 Responses to “Reading Rainbow – “The Gospel According To Starbucks””

  1. I love Len Sweets insights and this is a KILLER book!!

  2. I picked this up last week and almost bought it. Now I will. I really like his book “The Dawn Mistaken for Dusk”. Are you sure you should be reading this kind of stuff? This guy is so ’emergent’.

  3. Definitely do Christian, I really think you’ll appreciate it. Besides you “emergent” guys don’t scare me 🙂

    Sweet has an amazing hear to be “missional”. I guess that’s the coined term. No one should be afraid of that.

  4. emergent guys scare everybody brent…lol…

    but i like’em

    This book is sitting on my dads desk…Im gonna have to steal it now

  5. “missional” is great. The issue with the whole emergent thing is they are getting a bad wrap from the extreme emergent guys who are into mysticism and use the term missional but are more inward than outreaching.

  6. Yeah, I’ve even had a few ‘run ins’ with some of my emergent friends. I’m not crazy about how they have bought into Al Gore’s vision of the future hook line and sinker. I don’t think that one need to identify with a particular political position if they want to be part of the ‘conversation’.

    Of course now that Gore is a Nobel laureate I might have to be more ‘open minded’.

  7. Klampert – I think you speak of a definite concern of any facet of Christianity…the extremists. And I agree. I have a hard time with people that fall so far one way, it does not seem to be an accurate view of the gospel.

    Christian – The whole “political” thing is a little unnerving to me right now. as much as I stand for something because of my convictions, it does not label who I am. I am a Christian and as a Christian it may be completely possible for me to see one candidate differently than another. I took one of those “candidate tests” the other day just to try and see who I would relate to based on my beliefs. On abortion, the war, and immigration, I had the same convictions as 9 other candidates running for president (3 were democrats…)

    The interesting thing to me is that most people (Christians and Christian Organizations as well) no longer vote for something, but they vote against something. that drives me nuts! That is what one large Christian organization is doing now. If their “chosen” candidate does not win the primaries, they are going to choose another, just to vote against the Democratic candidate.

    Does this make sense?

  8. I think I know who those folks are. I think it is interesting that on many spiritual issues the Democratic candidates seem to be more forthcoming than the Republican ones, which must have some people in a real tizzy.

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