John Wesley’s Feeling About Starbucks

Every day I try to read from John Wesley’s journal.


This was  the  entry from Wesley’s journal I read yesterday: the heading to the Tuesday the 7th date was “Wesley Rides 2400 Miles in 7 Months”.  If there was a hard working preacher who cared about the lost and the body of Christ, it was John Wesley.

John Wesley averaged, during a period of fifty-four years, about five thousand miles a year, making in all some two hundred and ninety thousand miles, a distance equal to circumnavigating the globe about twelve times. It must not be forgotten that most of this travel was on horseback. Think of riding around the globe on horseback twelve times!

Just for that reason , give weight to his prophetic words from his journal.


Almost 300 years ago John Wesley wrote this in his journal:


Accordingly, the next evening after sermon I reminded them of two things: the one, that it was not decent to begin talking aloud as soon as service was ended, and hurrying to and fro, as in a bear garden. The other, that it was a bad custom to gather in knots just after sermon and turn a place of worship into a coffee house. I therefore desired that none would talk under that roof, but go quietly and silently away.



“Turn the place of worship  into a coffee house”

Could he have been more prophetic for us?

He wrote this in the mid 1700’s.

What is happening to our churches today?

Carmel Macchiato’s before, after and during the service and bought in the lobby of the church right before you enter the doors of the sanctuary.



Wesley thought that after the sermon, people need to ponder and feel what they heard. What the “coffee house” environment does is distract from contemplation of the message.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m a coffee drinker and a Starbucks customer.

My contention is that do we really have to  have  a barista to keep the people coming?

We better spend more time in getting a Word for our church

instead of spending so much time pondering “what else can we do” to make our church more progressive.  What could possibly be next?

I will tell you what’s next, because it’s happening….



The Wall Street Journal told about a new church in Brooklyn that meets in a bar.  Now I used to pastor a church in a XXX movie theater, so you know me, I don’t have a problem with that.  But there is more, it’s gone beyond coffee.  Here is what the article said:


“For those who choose to attend an alternative Christian service, a bar can feel more comfortable than an actual church building. According to “the pastor” (I pulled his name out) many in his congregation have felt ostracized by mainstream churches due to their appearance, their sexuality or their rejection of traditional values.


“The bar is common ground,” Mr. “Pastor” (no names) said. “People can come in and have a beer and have a drink, and I think for a lot of people that is comforting because church has been a painful place for them.”

“My whole life I have gone to Catholic church and hated it because it was boring and miserable,” said Will Zucconi, 27, who has been attending the church services for a year. “I like to drink and I like to go to church, and if I can do both at the same time that’s cool.”


The associate pastor of the church said:  “I like it because if I weren’t at church I would be in a bar, so this is two areas of life coming together for me in one fantastic evening.”


That’s the associate pastor saying the last line.

And this is what the WSJ put in for their religious article over the weekend a few months ago.

 But that is the exception. But I don’t think we are far from coffee bars soon removing the word “bar”.


Now let’s get back to Wesley and coffee.

We have 2 issues to ponder:

Either our sermons today are not worth pondering?

And maybe they deserve a venti instead of a silent meditative heart.

And second, 

Are  we are trying to avoid the voice of the Holy Spirit and welcome other voices? So we want the hustle and the bustle after the service so as to avoid the quiet of our souls.


God helps us on both accounts


In Wesley’s words….coffee and church don’t mix.  Or more specifically , the Starbucks atmosphere is not what our church needs.  Nothing wrong with Starbucks on Main Street. But something really wrong with Starbucks in the Narthex.


1 thought on “John Wesley’s Feeling About Starbucks”

  1. Good morning, Pastor Tim. I have been wondering about the same thing. When you have been involved in church ministry as many years as many of us have been, it’s an interesting phenomenon to experience the pressure to “adjust” to the “mix” you have cited in today’s blog. And the question that abides: is it because of a lack of preparedness for the preaching of the Word? Is it because of a fear that folks won’t “like” the pure spiritual food that has been prepared? Is it because of the constant need to find another crutch on which to validate our gathering together? I like coffee too. And we have a coffee pot set up in the adult Sunday School class where I teach. However, we are fortunate to be in fellowship at a church where there is a priority for worship, intercession, and a clear proclamation of the Word of God when we gather. I am thankful for our pastor and for the Spirit of the Lord that prevails. Thank you for your blog today. As always: it is a necessary word of warning, correction, and is put in the sound perspective of history. May you and your family be blessed today. Sherry, Nate (and his family) and I say “hi”.

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