balancing identity/purpose

I just finished reading this article from TIME Magazine about some of the business decisions that Starbucks faces as they balance holding on to their identity as a place where you can get “handcrafted” coffee drinks while trying to fulfill their purpose as a money making organization. The article does a great job of illustrating how automation and efficiency can be in direct conflict with asthetic and authenticity. It sounds like Starbucks is trying to strike a ballance between selling as much product to as many people as quickly as possible and yet keeping the brand from being equated with fast food companies like McDonalds.

In my job I have often come across a similar scenario where we try to create a very well planned and executed church service but want it to also be a weekly event that is authentic and elicits community participation instead of being a well crafted presentation. Sometimes we have to struggle over questions of style, personal preferences, creativity, and quality (among other things). One way that you can successfully navigate these questions is if you clearly define your identity and purpose, and finding the right balance between the two when they become at odds with each other.

For more info about Starbucks business model check out Brand Autopsy (via Tony Morgan)


3 thoughts on “balancing identity/purpose”

  1. And yet McDonalds is doing everything possible with their own ad campaign to prove themselves superior (or at least equal) to Starbucks AND cheaper. Who wins? Probably no body.

    I appreciate your duty to crafting a worship service. My concern is that the worship service might well meet the needs of even the majority of the participants and yet not meet the needs of God. I mean, who is it who is being worshipped? Who is the worship service for? Surely not the participants. it is for the object of the worship. How in the world do you craft THAT service?

  2. How in the world do you craft THAT service?

    Ron – I think you’ve hit on exactly what I’m talking about. Our purpose is to worship God as a community on Sunday mornings (although worship shouldn’t be something that we do as much as be who we are 24/7) and there are many different forms that can be used to worship God (I don’t think he cares about style). One of the problems that I face is how to create a service that both leads people in congregational worship, but at the same time gets out of the way of them centering their hearts on God for that 75 minutes. I’ve found that without an identity people will argue to get “their” needs met by a service instead of fulfilling their purpose, and some times we get so wrapped up in identity (aka-style) that we neglect to fulfill our pupose. There’s definately some balancing that must take place in those conflicts.

  3. Amen and amen. And I’m glad bigger minds … more creative minds … than mine are on the job. Somehow we have to learn to derive pleasure from giving God pleasure. That change is so deep, so internal, that I am not at all convinced that it can be taught. It has to be caught. And that takes the Hand of God to accomplish. I suppose until hearts are changed the “worship wars” will continue. I hope I’m wrong.

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