(215) Topical_Lessons I Learned at Starbucks

Sermon Tone Analysis
View more →

Topical: Lessons I Learned at Starbucks

October 7, 2012


·         171 (Work)

·         133 (Membership & Mission)

·         166 (Exile)

·         Journal entry and Evernote “To Do” list




Today I pretty cool for a COUPLE of REASONS. FIVE YEARS ago today I became the pastor of this church. That is one of the BEST THINGS that has ever happened to me and my family.

This has become our FAMILY and our COMMUNITY. You are our FRIENDS, our FAMILY, the people I am PROUD and EXCITED to live life and FOLLOW GOD WITH.

It was NOT been an EASY road. We lost almost HALF of the original CONGREGATION; I have made some pretty STUPID MISTAKES. You have had to allow me to learn the hard way.

Looking back, I can’t say “I did THIS RIGHT and this right and that is why we are here,” all I can say is that God is INCREDIBLE GRACIOUS.

* Time and time again, God GRACIOUSLY RESCUED us when I did not deserve it, when we did not deserve it.


Sixteen months ago, we faced a rapidly DEPLETING SAVINGS ACCOUNT and realized were a month or two from not being able to pay our mortgage. The only place left to cut was my salary, I decided to go PART-TIME.

The past sixteen months have been one of the MOST DIFFICULT times in MY life, my FAMILY’S life, and this CHURCH, but it has also been ONE of the BEST. God has done amazing things and I would not trade it for anything.

But now, after sixteen months, I am excited to tell you that this phase is OVER. Last Sunday the final pieces fell into place and I am now returning as your full-time pastor.

* WORDS FAIL ME, I cannot describe my joy at this change.

But I am not returning the SAME PERSON who “left,” and it is my joy to be able to preach this last sermon of my Starbucks era sharing with you some of the LESSONS I have LEARNED.

1. God is glorified by hard work.

Every time I put on this apron, I prayed, “To the GLORY of God,” and on some particularly tough days, “And I will really NEED your HELP this time.”

After being a pastor for almost 14 YEARS and taking an ENTRY LEVEL JOB, I really struggled with the felt LACK of DIGNITY by my job. It was hard to stand there in this apron, talking to PASTORS who I had met with at our Pastors’ Luncheon.

One night, MOPPING the FLOOR, feeling like I was doing pointless work and not sure how mopping a floor was honoring God, I remembered God’s first Great Commission:

Genesis 1:28 God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”

This is the FIRST GREAT COMMISSION. By the very act of working hard, I am doing what I God called me to do. By WORKING HARD, you are doing what God CALLED you to do.


My time at STARBUCKS was been a long lesson in seeing how HARD WORK, as such, GLORIFIES God.

Colossians 3:22-24 Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything; and do it, not only when their eye is on you and to win their favor, but with sincerity of heart and reverence for the Lord. 23 Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, 24 since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.

The FINAL SESSION of this lesson has been since I turned in MY NOTICE. I’d hoped to tell my boss I was done before he got next week’s schedule done, but he is faster than my last boss.

* So of course I must either cover or work my shifts, even though everything in me really, really wanted to be done.

And I am STRUGGLING to put my ALL into EVERY SHIFT, but I have to remind myself, “I am working FOR THE LORD, whether at STARBUCKS or the CHURCH, I am working for the Lord.”

Q Do you view YOUR WORK, ipso facto, as GLORIFYING God?

Q Do you work “as UNTO the LORD” whether or not you are being WATCHED or REWARDED?

2. Glorifying God at work is hard.

One of my favorite CS LEWIS quotes: “Everyone feels benevolent if nothing happens to be annoying him at the moment.”

It was a lot easier to be holy and kind working at the CHURCH all week long when I SELDOM INTERACTED with anyone. Now I get it – it is really hard to be nice sometimes!

* ICED TEA lady.

I had to be KIND to PATRONIZING customers, PATIENT with people ordering in drive without speaking ENGLISH, and draw BOUNDARIES with a LADY who thought we were being paid to be her friend.

Then were my co-WORKERS. I really liked working with most of them, and I am really SAD to leave them, but some days finishing work without an ASSAULT CHARGE was an act of God’s grace.

* I learned just how IMPATIENT I am.

I was FORCED to LEAN on God on a regular basis: “Dear God, help me not STRANGLE ANYONE. Remind me this is ONLY COFFEE. Help me love, forgive, and calm down. Now!”

* LAST WEEK I talked about relying on the HOLY SPIRIT – I learned that in a very practical way at Starbucks.

Q When you have a BAD DAY at work, do you EXPLODE, POWER THROUGH, or LEAN on God?

Q Do you REPENT and APOLOGIZE when you fail?

3. The best way to engaging culture is to glorify God.

But all of this taught me practically what I knew THEORETICALLY – the best way to “ENGAGE CULTURE” (as our mission statement says) is to GLORIFY GOD.

By striving to be a GOD-GLORIFYING BARISTA, I was able to share God through WORDS and ACTIONS.

* LIZETH: You have made a difference here – made me think how this store might be different because of me.


1 Thessalonians 4:11-12 Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business and to work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody.

Being a barista not only gave me EXPOSURE to new people, but it also brought RESPECT by people who do NOT RESPECT pastors.

* I may have LOST CREDIBILITY with some people (Christians), but GAINED it with others; this is something I am LOSING.

But YOU are NOT – you still have the CREDIBILITY and AUDIENCE with people I do not.

Q How are you 1) WINNING RESPECT and 2) looking for OPPORTUNITIES to share the words of life?

4. God’s timing is perfect.

Last year I preached on one of the better known passages in OT:

Jeremiah 29:11-13 “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”

The context was Judah was in EXILE and felt abandoned by God. God was REASSURING them he had not. In fact, that time in exile was where God did the MOST WORK in them.

* Rather than try to run back to “the way THINGS WERE,” God told them to GROW, LEARN, and LIVE in his will in exile.

This entire thing has been an ONGOING LESSON in God’s PERFECT TIMING. I firmly believe that God works and arranges things and that if we are willing to TRUST his timing rather than FORCING ours, things go much better.

* Specifically, I see that God has been using the last 16 months to prepare for what is ahead.

a. Preparing my FAMILY: God has done great things in my family, from COOKING to GENEROSITY.

b. Preparing ME: I have watched him do great things in me, and his timing was perfect:

* I didn’t realize that I was afraid of RETURNING to FULL TIME, until a couple of ago when he dealt with it.

c. Preparing the church:

I know we have gotten several pieces DISCOURAGING NEWS over the past year, but in fact, that church is DOING BETTER than it has in awhile.

* Example: GRACE and SARAH seeing us argue when in reality it is a “GOOD ARGUMENT” and we are making real headway.

Every one of us on the leadership team feel OPTIMISTIC about the church, where we are going and where we are at. I asked them to tell me why they feel that way, and I asked PETER if I could quote him:

Personally, I am motivated most by the (apparent) fact that God seems to be breathing new life into us because we have collectively put Him on the throne.  What I mean is that He seems to be rebuilding us from the ashes of destruction that we (individuals and families) have created by holding on to control of our own lives – our money, our marriages, etc.  

The fallout from our choice to be lord over our own lives, has resulted in destruction; divorce, betrayal, abandonment, poverty.  I feel like we have hit ground zero. 

God somehow graciously [JK: and sovereignty!] kept our doors open, in spite of our selfish disobedience, but it seems to have brought us to a collective place of repentance.  We seem to be responding to the destruction with a recognition that He needs to be returned to his proper place of sovereignty over our lives.

I see a people recognizing the frailty and futility of living for themselves, and turning to run to their Father's arms.  And I have hope for what He will rebuild here, as we remain faithful and devoted.

This says it BETTER than I could.

God is doing good thing not because we have gotten OUR ACT TOGETHER but because we are LEARNING just how much we DON’T have our act together and are learning on his GRACE.

Q Are you LEANING into GOD’S TIMING or running away from it?

5. I am lucky to be your pastor.

All those hours of SQUEEZING in EVERY SPARE MINUTE to finish the sermon before I had to clock on made me realize how much I have TAKEN my TIME for GRANTED.

* Not being able to go to CHURCH FUNCTIONS or hang out with you showed me I DIDN’T APPRECIATE what I had.

Now that I have it BACK, I pray to God I NEVER take it for GRANTED again. I am one of the LUCKY few who is able to MAKE my LIVING doing what I really, really WANT to do – be YOUR PASTOR.

Paul wrote PHILIPPIANS to his favorite church, the one closest to his heart, he calls them “my JOY and my CROWN.” That is what you are to me, my joy and my crown.

* I am HONORED to be your pastor, and to once again be your fulltime pastor.

Q Have YOU FORGOTTEN how lucky you are to have a CHURCH COMMUNITY like this?


So where do we go from here? [Take apron off]

No big GOALS or PLANS, only striving to be what God has CALLED us to be. Our MISSION STATEMENT simply describes the unique way God is calling us to be a local representation of His Body:

We are a Christian community striving to glorify God and engage our culture.

This is basically the one sentence version of what I have been talking about:

1. CHRISTIAN COMMUNITY: We are a community of follower of Jesus enjoying life together and helping each other.

2. We are STRIVING – not perfect but leaning more and more on God’s grace to lead us in the midst of failures.

3. Our primary purpose is to GLORIFY God – to see his greatness more clearly, through grace and obedience.

4. ENGAGE our CULTURE: Show the world God’s glory by going to them and meeting them in their context.

* Please text “Sunday School Teacher” ; service is almost over


I firmly believe that be COMMITTED to a LOCAL CHURCH is as much a part of being a Christian as PRAYING or READING you Bible. Not necessarily this church, but a church.

* There are 100 RIGHT WAYS of doing church; our mission statement describes the way God has called us to do it.

But there is a big difference between ATTENDING and being COMMITTED to a church. There is a big difference between saying:

“This is MY church, I am a PART of it, I INVEST my TIME, TALENTS and TREASURES here, I am SUBMITTED to the leadership, it is a PRIORITY be here on Sunday”

“I go to church there, USUALLY, SOMETIMES, when the weather ISN’T NICE, when we feel like, when we can get the KID UP, unless I am OFFEND by someone, or the sermon is BORING, or JOSH is preaching.”

Being an ATTENDER means you show us when you WANT to, HIDE when you want to, and don’t feel ACCOUNTABLE to the church, the phrase “It’s NONE of your BUSINESS” lingers in your mind.

* If that describes YOU, you’re still WELCOME; I’d rather have you HERE than NOWHERE, but know that is NOT BIBLICAL CHURCH.

But being COMMITTED to this church means:

1. This is where you BELONG – you are COMMITTED to the people of this church, even when you have to give back.

2. This is where you SERVE and GIVE – you believe in what is going on and you put your MONEY and ACTIONS where your mouth is.

3. This is where you GROW – you are not STAGNANT, and you are ACCOUNTABLE to the people of the church and SUBMIT to the LEADERSHIP as they help you grow.


We describe this commitment by using the word “MEMBERSHIP.” Some folks REACT STRONGLY to that word. Member simply means “PART of a BODY” and membership is the state of being part of a body.

* The MEMBERSHIP COVENANT describes the commitments we make, just as a MARRIAGE CERTIFICATE to demonstrates commitment.

It’s NOT the TERM membership that’s important nor is the signed covenant – it is COMMITTING yourself to ONE local body, not MOVING AROUND when ever things get DIFFICULT.

* If you are interested in being a member, grab a packet, and plan on attending the membership class 10/28.

Q & A


Related Media
See more
Related Sermons
See more