Recently, I ran (okay, drove) to Starbucks (off Parham) for my morning grande no-foam soy latte. Actually, I saw a couple of other staff members there too. Starbucks is not only an acquired taste, but a shared addiction. Anyhow, I’m standing in line behind half a dozen people when a lady walks up behind me. She notices the Starbucks Rewards Postcard in my hand and proceeds to wish me a happy birthday. I reply by telling her thank you but that it wasn’t my birthday. The rewards certificate in my hand was for frequenting places like this way too often. She laughed, but continued to talk and what she said made an impact on me. She talked about her love for Starbucks. Her affection was not necessarily for the product, but for the customer service and attention. Her birthday is coming in December and she can’t wait to get her free drink birthday card issued to every gold card holder with Starbucks. She went on to say, “It’s like they actually want me as a customer and want me to spend my money here.” There was a short pause and this phrase, “You know, Walmart never sent me a birthday card and as much money as I spend there…” The point was well made. Starbucks wants the customer to know they’re valued, appreciated, and wanted. Walmart on the other hand concentrates on volume rather than an individual approach. That’s a huge distinction in business models.
The whole incident got me to thinking about church. Do we really take time getting to know each other and the unique tastes and needs of others? Do we as Christians and church-goers intentionally work to make others feel valued, appreciated, and wanted? In proper perspective the church isn’t programming; the church is relationship. If Christ reconciles us to the Father then Jesus’ work is all about the relationship. God’s desire to be in relationship with His creation demonstrates for us the importance of being in relationship (linking) not only to God but with each other. Within and beyond the walls, we ought to demonstrate value, appreciation, and worth. People migrate to where people are valued. Learn a name, stop long enough for a conversation, share a cup of coffee, or enjoy a meal together. I’m there if I believe I can be known, feel needed, and can know others.