A good friend of mine, Brian Beattie, from Freedom House in Brantford, Ontario Canada told me recently about their interaction with Starbucks. You might remember late last year the Starbucks v American Church controversy when Starbuck’s released their new “Christmas Cup” for the 2015 season which was a simple red cup. A certain American evangelist, made a big issue about what Starbucks had done, claiming this was another sign of a growing “war on Christmas” because Starbucks didn’t include any wintery or Christmasy pictures on their cups. This became quite a big internet sensation, with much negative feedback coming to Starbucks as many Christians, spurred on by the evangelist reacted to the new cups.
Brian and his team at Freedom House chose a different path. Brian preached a message about how Starbucks had not stolen Christmas. He spoke about how Starbucks had created culture that had become to many very appealing. He claimed it was not Starbuck’ responsibility to appropriately represent Christmas. He put that responsibility solely on the shoulders of those who believe in Christ and the Christmas message. Then he handed out plain red cups from the local Starbucks and asked his people to write words of life and encouragement on them. He later wrote a cover letter and sent the top 12 “encouragement cups” to Starbucks HQ in Seattle directly to Howard Schultz, its CEO.
Within a week, Freedom House had received numerous positive responses from Starbucks. The regional director told them that the cups and the letter had made it to Schultz, who in turn, had them sent to regional offices all over North America and many franchises as well. They were then visited by Canadian National Starbucks leaders. These leaders told Brian and his team stories of how moved they were that there were people who cared enough to encourage and bless. Freedom House and Starbucks leaders then shared stories of how acts of kindness can transform culture. Freedom House is presently talking with Starbucks about how they can work together in our city to transform culture.
It is these kinds of actions, partnership not protest, that will enable cities and nations to be transformed.
Just a thought.