On a Tuesday afternoon in February, 2008, Starbucks closed all of its US stores. A note posted on 7,100 locked doors explained: “We’re taking time to perfect our espresso. Great espresso requires practice. That’s why we’re dedicating ourselves to honing our craft.” The reasoning behind Starbucks seemingly crazy tactic was to somehow, in short order, retrain 135,000 baristas to pour the perfect shot of espresso. Because to Starbucks, pouring espresso is an art, which requires the barista to care deeply about the quality of the beverage.
Several weeks ago, we opened our TOG (Taste of Grace) Coffee Bar in our remodeled atrium at Grace Community Church. We spent the money necessary to equip the coffee bar with the best possible espresso machine; a machine that requires the barista to pull the perfect shot. We could’ve chosen other machines that are much more automated and therefore, don’t depend too much on the barista. We decided against this route primarily because we wanted our baristas to not only care about the quality of the beverage they are serving, but to be an example of how much we at GCC care about the quality of service, atmosphere, and commitment we are making to our GCC family and to those visiting us for the first time. To date we’ve trained over 25 baristas who offer a quality beverage, the perfect shot of espresso, and, along with our other first impression’s efforts, a first shot quality experience!
I’m very much concerned that many church leaders downplay the importance of “quality” in their churches and the first shot experiences they are creating for people. Too often I’ve attended a service or a meeting in a church setting only to be struck by the lack of quality that has been put into the building, the resources, or the service or meeting itself. Regrettably this lack of quality (I know this can sometimes be a personal preference issue) is the result of trying to be too many things to too many people, mismanagement or misappropriation of resources, or simply not establishing excellence and quality in all things as a value. We tend to forget that we often get one shot with people as it relates to whether or not they’ll return to our church for a second visit- and this is huge, since ideally we WANT them to return so we can continue to help them to experience Christ in a very positive way.
Sure, excelling at graphics or video or marketing the message or having a coffee bar in the atrium doesn’t automatically add up to more Jesus followers. But, providing a quality experience, which emphasizes and prioritizes taking time to perfect our service to God and to others, and dedicating ourselves to honing our ministry to introduce people to the life-transforming message of Jesus Christ, will result in the vast majority of people going away with a great taste in their soul because we took this first shot seriously!
I’m not suggesting we close our doors for a day like Starbucks did; but I am promoting that we honestly evaluate and assess how deeply we care about the quality of “services” we’re offering people. After all, we may only get this one shot!