I love coffee, but I’m not a big fan of Starbucks (even though I’ve waded through crowds slurping frap-a-shakes to get a cup before). However, they have a lot of experience in the coffee biz and I’m continuing to learn from a corporate misstep they made. It’s a tidbit I’ve shared a few times, so if you have a minute, let’s brew-up a thought together.
Several years ago while evaluating a logistics change to improve quality control, it became clear the store experience was negatively impacted (the dreaded unintended consequence). They had started centrally grinding the coffee beans, vacuum sealing the grounds, and shipping them to each location. Unfortunately, in the process a precious element was eliminated-the glorious smell of the grinding action in the stores. Yep, that wonderful inviting aroma (which even non-coffee-drinkers enjoy) was missing; so they made the change back to locally preparing the beans. Here’s what I’m learning from their snafu:
In 2 Corinthians 2:12-17 Paul describes believers as the “aroma of Christ” with word pictures of “Roman Triumph” (parades honoring great generals coming back from foreign battle). In it, a procession wound through Rome to the Coliseum with the General up front, and captured enemy walking behind. Among them, priests would carry burning incense to fill the entire route with the fragrance of victory. So what does that mean for us? Do we need to fire up the incense and get some smoke going? No, for us it comes from the grind…the daily grind of life happening while the Holy Spirit works …but there are challenges.
- Challenges from within: I need to be honest about my faith journey and the struggles it produces. The world around me doesn’t need a fake plastic Christian or a self-loathing defeatist; it needs the honesty of one who’s found hope in a victorious King while growing daily. There are endless places for that aroma to have an impact: such as family, vocation and community.
- Challenges from without: The world offers many distractions. As followers of Christ, we’re told to avoid the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life (1 John 2:15-17). If my life “smells” the same as an unbelieving neighbor, then I’m a coffee shop missing the expected essence of fresh grind.
- Challenges from church: As church leaders, we can unintentionally push the “central grind” mentality. We focus a lot on creating the right atmosphere for worship or study, but the power of God can’t be packaged for later convenience…it’s a daily thing. We must biblically equip folks to be fresh-ground aroma at work, school or ballgames as a result of personal growth and the Holy Spirit working.
So, next time you see their familiar green symbol, think of the aroma; it’s not by accident, it’s part of the process. What about you?