Over the next few weeks I want to share with my experience attending *The Next Church national gathering of Presbyterians in Seattle.

Before I get to the content of the conference, I was in Seattle…so obviously I had to go to the original Starbucks in Pike Place Market.

I didn’t know what to expect, but what I found was basically a storefront shop, near the water. There was no seating and a long line of coffee pilgrims streaming to the holy land.

We all knew that what we were getting was something we could have gone one block in any direction to get, probably with a shorter line. Yet there we were…waiting.

The thing that makes a place like Starbucks successful, in part, is that you can expect to get your Grande-frappe-half-caff-with an extra shot-soy milk-extra whip made the same way whether you are in Seattle or Appleton. But guess what?

My venti café latte was better than any other Starbucks coffee I’ve ever had before.

At first, I thought I getting caught up in the nostalgia of Pike Place Market. But here’s what I really think was going on.

There is a Starbucks on basically every block, but there were also countless other coffee shops. There is a lot of good coffee in Seattle. (Just think cheese in Wisconsin). And I think Starbucks created a monster.

Here’s how it happened (I think). Starbucks cornered the market (literally), but plenty of other coffee connoisseurs thought they could do even better. Because in the same way that Starbucks is successful, this is the other part, because it is a way of life (“I’m someone who drinks Starbucks”), which means the opposite is true too (“I’m someone who refuses to drink Starbucks”).

The monster that Starbucks created is culture of coffee drinkers who expect quality and string of rivals who know they can’t show up with…well…church coffee.

Finally, Starbucks, at least in Seattle, had step up its game. In the end, who we surround ourselves with matters. Do they make you better? Do they make you comfortable enough to just get by?

Whether in your neighborhood, or at work, or at church challenge you to be better?

Maybe asked another way: Do you make others around you better?

Spending a week in Seattle with some of the most amazing, faithful, and thoughtful Presbyterians serving across the country challenged me to be a better pastor, parent, and disciple.

And all the more grateful for Seth’s Coffee and Memorial Presbyterian Church.

Pastor Mike

“Hold fast to what is good. Have Courage”

*Next Church is a gathering of Presbyterians focused on the very best of the PCUSA. It is a celebration of our diversity. A chance to explore the unique ways Presbyterian Churches across the country are impacting their communities in unique and imaginative ways.

You can view some of the workshops and presentations at Next Church. The theme for the week was: “WOVEN TOGETHER Stories of Dissonance, Sacrifice, and Liberation.”

It was a great week with some wonderful Presbyterians! I look forward to sharing further insights in the next few weeks.