In Defense of a Starbucks Faith

This is a guest post by my friend Sarah Bost-Askins. I met Sarah through the blogosphere and became friends with her on Twitter. I’m honored to have her as my first guest blogger here! Enjoy!

Growing up in a conservative Baptist church, I was convinced that somewhere in the pastor’s secret library was a book of culturally relevant sermon illustrations. One of my favorites is the metaphor that Christianity was not a buffet. A middle-aged preacher would pace on the platform yelling to the congregation that Christianity  could  not be approached in  the same way we approached the buffet at Golden Corral. We couldn’t skip the broccoli or the salad bar or the meatloaf and go straight for the dessert which in Christian terms means that we can’t ignore the parts of our faith  that we don’t like for the parts we do like. There was only one way to take the Christian buffetaccept everything that was slapped on your faith plate.


Unfortunately with our expanding waistlines and the need to be more socially relevant, the buffet analogy has morphed into a Starbucks metaphor. Yet again, preachers are telling their congregations that we do not have a Starbucks faith. We can’t order up a tall soy vanilla latte or  non-fat, no whip iced white mocha latte. Again, we have to take coffee in its purest formstraight up, no sugar, no cream, just a good ol’ cup of Holy joe poured out to everyone the exact same faith way, in the exact same faith mugs. Like the buffet analogy, we can’t take the part of our faith coffee or the Bible that we like and choose to ignore the parts we don’t like, or we can’t alter the original faith coffee by mixing it with anything but more faith coffee.

Here is the problem: when we take our faith coffee home with us, we  all secretly alter the faith-filled brew. We add cream or sugar or milk, but the faith brew never stays in its so called purest form. Like Starbucks’ infinite coffee possibilities, we personalize our faith coffee so that we make it truly our own. We have a Starbucks faith.


The wonderful thing about a Starbucks faith is that we celebrate our different voices, different opinions, but always with a uniting theme underlying all of our choicesour faith. A Starbucks faith creates a discursive space in which we share how we have personalized our faith, how we see our faith being lived out, and how we perform our faith for others. But when we deny our faith differences for  faith sameness, we are silencing productive conversations about faith, and worse, we are in a sense lying to our brothers and sisters in Christ. We exacerbate our hypocrisy when we ignore how each of us views our faith differently. We have faith but not the exact same faith and that is what makes the Christianity a beautiful thing.


As with any metaphor, a Starbucks faith is far from a perfect analogy. But a Starbucks faith allows us to speak  about our differences, to question  our faith, to seek the truth. So, what’s your Starbucks faith look like?

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