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The miracle of 5,000 cups of coffee

I don't know when or where it started, probably in Seattle when Starbucks opened their first coffee store, but they really didn't get cranking until 1985. I'm talking about full flavored robust coffee. Now the company has over 16,000 stores in 49 countries. They call their product drip brewed coffee and espresso based hot drinks.

I don't mean to over simplify, but until Starbucks grabbed us by the taste buds, it is my observation that the taste of coffee in this country was mild, bland and very forgettable. You don't remember that? That proves how forgettable it was.

As a result of this coffee revolution, Starbucks has many imitators today and there is a trend toward stronger, full flavored, aromatic coffee. If a restaurant wants a following in the 21st century, they had better emphasize first class coffee. If you run a restaurant and you don't drink coffee, you'd better hire somebody who does, pay attention and plan to make coffee a priority or your customers are going to go where the coffee has some muscle.

Churches need to pay attention as well. As a matter of fact, it wouldn't be foolish to consider this column a "sign." It seems well established that coffee hours are a tradition before, between or after church services. It's called fellowship and coffee is the fuel of fellowship.

If your church is serving mild, bland, forgettable coffee during the fellowship hour, the fellowship is likely to be mild, bland and forgettable as well. That is not to say that watered down sociability means watered down religion, but you know how people talk.

In an age when church membership is going down in this country, this is not a time to try to save pennies on coffee. We have all been inspired by the miracle of the feeding of the 5,000 on a handful of loaves and fishes. But that miracle was not performed in a church kitchen with a 50-gallon coffee maker. Nail this thesis on the kitchen wall: "Thou shalt not attempt to squeeze 5,000 cups out of a pound of coffee."

If you have a cup of church coffee in front of you and you can see the bottom of the cup, membership in your church is going to decline. And you know where its gonna go? To the church down the block with the strong, full-bodied, robust dark roast coffee and strong, full-bodied, robust fellowship.

The Bible does not have all the answers. For some, you need to read this column.