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Photo: darkensiva (Creative Commons license)

Photo: darkensiva (Creative Commons license)

There have been several humorous comparisons between church and Starbucks. If you haven’t seen the YouTube video, “What if the Starbucks Marketed Like the Church?” come back to this link after reading this post and check it out.

Now let’s turn it around. What if the church behaved more like Starbucks? What I’m suggesting has nothing to do with coffee…and everything to do with something called The Green Apron Book.

The Green Apron Book is a booklet that Starbucks gives its baristas. My stepdaughter worked at Starbucks for a while, and passed along the booklet. It outlines Starbucks mission: “To provide an uplifting experience that enriches people’s daily lives,” along with 5 Principles for doing exactly that:

1. Be Welcoming: Offer everyone a sense of belonging
2. Be Genuine: Connect, discover, respond
3. Be Knowledgeable: Love what you do. Share it with others.
4. Be Considerate: Take care of yourself, each other, and the environment.
5. Be Involved: In the store, in the company, and in the community.

Others, like Jeff Myers of the Slumdog Disciple blog, have already picked up on the notion that The Green Apron Book might have something to teach us about the experience we create for people (whether we claim that aspect of ‘church’ or ignore it). Darrin at the Hands and Feet 2.0 blog wrote a series of posts. Both Darrin and Jeff also mention the book, The Starbucks Experience by Joseph A. Michelli (McGraw Hill, 2006) for a more in-depth look at the 5 principles. But if you don’t want to go into that much depth, Jeff says The Green Apron Book is yours for the asking at Starbucks.

Here’s what I’d like to add. These 5 principles are a good guideline for Christians and churches when it comes to social media. Think about it. As Will Boyd of 3StoryChurch has pointed out in past posts like this one, there’s a lot more you can do on Twitter, Facebook, and other networks than just promote your programs, classes, sermons, and worship services.

We live in a world with abundant information. What people seem to be looking for are authentic, positive experiences. If your presence online and in the realm of social media is about creating that for them, even in small ways, they’ll be more likely to come to your website to see what else you have to offer.

And of course, follow through is important. If someone who connected with you or your church via social media shows up on Sunday morning, they should expect an in-person experience that matches the online presence. [For more on that, click the link to the YouTube video at the beginning of this post].

So how about it? Would you take a copy of The Green Apron Book to your next church board meeting, elder’s meeting, or small group discussion?

Vacant storefronts along one of the main streets in Wilmington, Ohio.

Vacant storefronts along one of the main streets in Wilmington, Ohio. (Click photo to view a slideshow of images from Wilmington.) Photo: DisciplesWorld

The Jan/Feb issue of DisciplesWorld comes out this week. I wrote the Lean Times column for this issue, about the town of Wilmington, Ohio. DHL Express just pulled out of Wilmington, leaving about 8,000 people in the town and surrounding counties unemployed. The town only has about 12,000 people. About one in three households have a family member who worked for DHL or related businesses at it’s Airpark.

While I was in town working on the article, CBS’ 60 Minutes was also there. Their segment on Wilmington aired last Sunday, Jan. 25. You can watch it or read the transcript here.

While 60 Minutes did an excellent job (they don’t need me to tell them that!) and they more than drove home the point that this small town (and others like it) are facing really tough times, they left out any mention of what I think is the most interesting and hope-inspiring angle. Taylor Stuckert and Mark Rembert, two young guys who grew up there, returned after college and are organizing an effort to make Wilmington the nation’s first Green Enterprise Zone. They’ve formed an organization called ENERGIZE Clinton County. Read more about them in the Daily Kos blog entry, What 60 Minutes Didn’t Tell You About Wilmington, Ohio.

I’ve talked with Taylor and Mark, read their proposals, and I think they have great (and practical) ideas. People are getting behind them. You can help, even if you don’t live anywhere near Wilmington. As they point out in my DisciplesWorld piece, Wilmington could become sort of a test lab for green technology and business, and for ideas and programs. The town has a huge number of people who are willing to learn and ready to work.

If the Obama administration doesn’t recognize this opportunity [and you can help by writing to them and to the Ohio Senators like Sherrod Brown who can get things done] then shame on them. Hopefully they’ll invest in Wilmington (different from a handout or a bailout) and show us how it can be done.

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