Starbucks and Rick Warren

October 25, 2005 by

USA Today has a great article about the recent Rick Warren Starbucks cup story, in addition to several other mainstream companies that incorporate some sort of God-factor into their marketing and business model.

Warren’s quote on the Starbucks cup comes from his best-selling book, The Purpose Driven Life, and certainly doesn’t hold back:

You are not an accident. Your parents may not have planned you, but God did. He wanted you alive and created you for a purpose. Focusing on yourself will never reveal your real purpose. You were made by God and for God, and until you understand that, life will never make sense. Only in God do we discover our origin, our identity, our meaning, our purpose, our significance and our destiny.

What would it look like if your church facilitated a conversation among business leaders and owners, and thought of ways to incorporate God-oriented messages in their marketing?


Not every approach may be as overt as Warren’s quote, but even subtle hints at God can be powerful.

To take it a level further, it’d be interesting to see a partnership of sorts between a church and local businesses. What if the Starbucks locations near Rick Warren’s church also gave the name and address of the church under Warren’s name? Local businesses could support their local churches, and vice-versa.

Of course here it gets sticky as the anti-church marketers cry foul. Trading advertising on a coffee cup for advertising from the pulpit is pretty foul.

But it seems like there could be ways to appropriately do it. Maybe your church agrees to use coffee from a local coffeeshop and display a small sign that says so. Maybe your church office uses a printer exclusively in exchange for discounts.

However it might work, it seems like there are possibilities for church and business to work together. Too often we have the separation mindset that demands that church and business, like church and state, must be separated. Unfortunately, our lives aren’t so cleanly divided. We go to church on Sunday morning and then go out to eat Sunday afternoon. Why can’t the two work together in some way in order to bring more people to Christ?

Post By:

Brad Abare


Brad Abare is the founder of the Center for Church Communication. He consults with companies and organizations, helping them figure out why in the world they exist, why anyone should care and what to do about it. He and his wife Jamaica live in Los Angeles with their daughter, MirĂ³.
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6 Responses to “Starbucks and Rick Warren”

  • Greg Vennerholm
    October 26, 2005

    Brad,
    Your thinking is right on track… churches partnering with local businesses is a fantastic way to reach out, so long as we do it in a “no-strings-attached” way. The church I attend does several things like that, in the name of love. The powerful thing about it is that they (the business or patrons of that business) aren’t pounded with the salvation message, but rather just that we’re here to help, however we can. It increases our witness, even if it’s in an incremental way.
    Now, as for Starbucks, I wish I could feel good about the Starbucks campaign, but I just can’t forget the other quotes in the series… like #43, about “alternative” lifestyles.
    http://brentonevans.blogspot.com/2005/09/tall-gay-latte.html
    Good for Starbucks in making room for Warren’s quote… balance I guess.
    Pray continually.


  • kelly
    October 28, 2005

    One thing my church is doing along these lines is not having toy drives at Christmas.
    What???
    Ok before you freak- the starbuck’s down the street is doing a toy drive. My gym is doing a clothing drive. Walmart is doing a coat drive…you get the picture.
    Rather than doing a “donation” thing inside our four walls, we are going to partner with the local businesses. Most of them know who we are, know we go to church. It will speak volumes for us to show the love of Christ through these businesses and the community rather than just inside our church.


  • Bill Hutchison's Journal
    November 6, 2005

    Churches Partnering with Businesses

    I read a good article that first grabbed my
    attention because it spoke about how Starbucks has put the following quote on some
    of their mugs:

    You are not an accident. Your parents may not have planned yo…


  • Kyle Gustafson
    January 4, 2006

    I’ve got to speak up against the anti-gay sentiment expressed by Mr. Vennerholm. Nothing personal of course, but it reminds me of some of the rhetoric I hear through the media. I’m married to a wonderful woman, and we have friends who are gay, and friends who have gay relatives. Gay people are people too, with many different lifestyles and very generous hearts. Some of them would even like to be Christian. It seems like some Christians are missing the point when it comes to acting in the name of Christ’s love. Christ did not discriminate, as far as I can tell. Brad’s other post on gay-friendly churches is moving in the right direction.


  • Jim Cash
    March 30, 2006

    Rick Warren is not a “man of God”.He
    is a sociopath who uses intimidation
    and sensationalism to control people.
    No more.No less.That Starbucks has used his qoute on a cup only proves
    that he is successful in bullying corporations to stroke his ego,lest he goes on a mission against their sales.Morality my foot.


  • John
    August 15, 2008

    How ’bout this on the side of your Starbucks cup?
    ‘It is written,’ he said to them, ‘My house will be called a house of prayer but you are making it a den of robbers.'” (Matthew 21:12-13)



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