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Blog // Thoughts
September 23, 2005

What Coffee Do You Worship?

Kyle Potter has picked up on the above graphic, which some are using to describe differences in church worship styles. He makes some good points about the problems in describing worship styles in knowingly “post-modern” ways. To me the problem with the graphic is that it buys uncritically into an attractional understanding of worship. What […]

Kyle Potter has picked up on the above graphic, which some are using to describe differences in church worship styles. He makes some good points about the problems in describing worship styles in knowingly “post-modern” ways.

To me the problem with the graphic is that it buys uncritically into an attractional understanding of worship. What I mean by that is that it seems to suggest that all we need to do is understand the core “values” of a target-market then tailor the “worship-experience” to meet the target market. Rather surprisngly, Andrew Jones’ comment that the third drink must be “Fair-trade chai made from cruelty-free tea leaves and NOT purchased from Starbucks,” buys into this kind of mindset (it will be interesting to see how the discussion on TallSkinnyKiwi unfolds). Rather than start with target-markets, we should probably start with ecclesiology, or better yet with a theology of culture that ground both the ecclesiology (or missio-ecclesia). This is what I get to be Kyle’s point; people might be part of worship service for reasons far removed from the ways that thing could be used (marketed) to attract newcomers.

Those caveats aside, there is something that I do like in the graphic and I think does tell us something. The first cup is all about home, it gives me a sense of church as tied to home-life to family, to comfort in familarity. The second cup is almost pace and motion, about busyness. It is coffee on the move for the upwardly mobile. The third cup spoke to me about cafe-culture in a positive way (though it may carry negative connotations for others). I spent a great deal of my time in London in cafes as both metting places and thinking spaces and am fascinated with how, through Wi-Fi they have become networking spaces. The cafe may not be an adequate metaphor to describe either church or worship, but placed against the other two images, it is a good way of describing social contexts and maybe even relations between faith and broader culture, as long as we remember they are simply evocative metaphors and as long as we do not conflate consumption with worship.

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Responses
chris duckworth 17 years ago

Not that I agree with this line of thinking, but can’t it be argued that the marketing approach to worship and evangelism is simply a way to start the church’s mission with and among the people, and speak to them in their native idiom? When we start with theology or ecclesiology, the argument goes, we risk having a starting point that is irrelevant to the people we are aiming to serve.

On the otherhand, a problem with this graphic and approach to ministry is that we make an idol out of culture, strictly defining our ministries by the trends and dictates of culture. All of a sudden our ministry is defined by MTV and not the Word, the church’s traditions or the Holy Spirit.

I’m struggling with this issue these days – to what extent does our traditional church make an idol out of (an old-fashioned) culutre, and to what extent does the emergent church make an idol out of the i-pod culture? And what is the relationship between the Word/the Church and culture? (Did someone write a book about this issue 50 years ago? . . . )

Peace,
Chris

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