Saturday, 26 September 2020

A Lesson from... Starbucks?

There was quite a kerfuffle last week (I’m so glad I got to use the word “kerfuffle!”) among some in the Christian community over Starbucks’ “Christmas cup” this year. 

For those who don’t know, Facebook and other social media were ablaze with stories and varying views over the coffee giant’s choice of a simple red cup for this holiday season, instead of one with snowflakes and other Christmas—oriented illustrations, as in years past.

As we say in the South, I don’t have a dog in the fight. I don’t dislike Starbucks, nor is Starbucks on my “must have” list each day. I’m in the middle. I go there from time to time; there was even a country music star at my local Starbucks when I was there once. It was cool, except for the fact that my wife had to point him out.

“Did you see so and so?” she asked. 

“Uhhh, no. Where?”

“Right there, when we were in Starbucks.”

“Oh . . .”

Maybe another time.

But I digress.

You won’t see me in a Starbucks line at the airport; I like coffee but can’t really find much of a difference between theirs and fast-food coffee. For me, the key is how much creamer I need, anyway. No barista can get it right for me, because I’m never sure what “right” is until I’ve had a taste of the stuff.

But at a family gathering the other day, the subject of Starbucks’ Christmas cup popped up. We chatted about it for a couple of minutes and I went back to the football game on TV. 

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Yet the conversation got me thinking about . . . us. Pregnancy Help Organizations. Yes, it really did.

Starbucks, in its defense, never claimed to be Christian in its world view. It’s just not who they are. Yes, Starbucks gets involved with social issues, such as earlier this year when they asked baristas to write “race together” on cups in an attempt to get all of us talking about a social issue. It did not go well, and the experiment ended quickly and quietly. 

But I doubt they will have a “let’s talk about life” cup anytime soon. Let’s not look for one. We can however, look at ourselves. 

A Christmas cup is only a symbol. It would be nice to see but it will not change our culture significantly. 

What will change our culture however, is us. We need to be a clear reflection of Jesus to those who come in our door. Nothing symbolic is needed when we are genuine, transparent and overflowing with love for someone hurting in front of us.

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I want anyone walking out the door of one of our organizations to say, “I sensed that God was right there with me.” I want our clients and patients to look back on their visits to us and think, “If that’s true Christianity, I want it in my life.”

This particular column—as you can tell by now—is not at all about Starbucks. Whether the “Christmas cup” is an issue worthy of debate is for others to figure out. I don’t have an opinion.

But the whole thing made me realize that while social media blows up over cups and symbols, in real life we have a powerful opportunity to be a positive, life-changing influence on this culture.

Never forget that. When someone comes in our door that person is almost always searching for hope at some level. We are the ones God can use to provide that hope.

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In a year, no one will be thinking about the color on coffee cups. Yet there will be tens of thousands who will remember a visit to one of our centers or agencies. That’s opportunity, and we need to seize every one we receive.

The next time I get a cup of coffee—at Starbucks or anywhere else—I need to keep that in mind.


Kirk Walden is a senior writer with Pregnancy Help News, an Advancement Specialist with Heartbeat International and author of The Wall. For banquet speaking engagements, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. at Ambassador Speakers Bureau. 

Kirk Walden

Kirk Walden is a senior writer with Pregnancy Help News, an Advancement Specialist with Heartbeat International and author of The Wall. For banquet speaking engagements, contact Gloria Leyda at Ambassador Speakers Bureau. His new Faith Revolution Podcast is online at

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