Friday, January 21, 2005

Appearing on The Club

Beth and I will be featured on The Club on ABS-CBN on February 8, 12:30am. In fact, the crew from CBN Asia is still here taping. Let me know what you think.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Spiritual Brew?

I got the article below from a friend...What do you think?


By Sarah Schweitzer, Globe Staff | November 22, 2004

PEMBROKE, N.H. -- The line of parishioners outside the Grace Capital
Church chapel last Sunday morning stretched past the stained glass
windows, beyond a pile of church bulletins. They had come for spiritual
invigoration, but first the men and women waited turns to pay $1.25 a cup
for Starbucks's Shade Grown Mexico.

In a startling mix of religion and chain-store culture, Starbucks has
become a prime attraction at the Pentecostal church a few miles from New
Hampshire's capital city. Reflecting a philosophy that emphasizes a wide
range of enticements to get Christians to come to church, Grace Capital
leaders have installed a kiosk in the atrium to sell the premium coffee

The church is one of a growing number of places of worship that have
allowed commercial enterprises to operate within their walls, a departure
from traditional Judeo-Christian notions of separation of church and trade
that Grace Capital officials say has helped build membership.

''People love it," said Pastor Peter Bonanno, who includes
Starbucks-printed coupons for free coffee in packets the church gives to
prospective members. ''We have had a lot of people come to church just
because we do it."

Bonanno notes that proceeds from the Starbucks coffee sales at the kiosk,
which church leaders have dubbed the ''Common Ground Cafe," go to
charities. This month the money will be donated to the Pembroke Christmas

The model, dubbed ''sectarian entrepreneurship" by some religion
specialists, is thriving around the country, along with the growing ranks
of evangelical churches. The True Bethel Baptist Church in Buffalo, N.Y.,
recently opened a Subway sandwich shop. The Brentwood Baptist Church in
Houston has a McDonald's.

The intertwining of commerce and church, religion specialists note, is not
in itself revolutionary: Monasteries sold beer in the Middle Ages, and
gift shops have long been church staples. What is new is that the
religious institutions are inviting outside commercial outlets in -- a
move that makes sense, some say, in an age of mass-marketing and national

''What these churches are saying is life is about markets and their market
is Jesus or eternal life," said James Wellman, a professor of American
religion at the University of Washington. ''If you need to get people in
the doors with McDonald's you do it because once people get in the doors,
they realize that what they really want is not Big Mac but eternal life."

The introduction of chain stores in churches is part of a broader attempt
to make the church-going experience more like the outside world, said Mark
Silk, the director of the Center for the Study of Religion in Public Life
at Trinity College in Hartford.

The churches ''see their job as creating a whole world for their
parishioners," Silk said. ''The idea of the church is to be

It is not clear that businesses can make money in church. The Brentwood
Baptist Church in Houston has temporarily closed its McDonald's while it
analyzes poor sales.

But Grace Capital's Bonanno said his church is not worried about the
bottom line.

''This is not about making money," he said. ''This is about being a
blessing to others."

A Starbucks spokesman said it is company policy not to disclose the number
of accounts with houses of worship, but he described it as a ''large

The movement to make churches less formal began on the West Coast in the
1970s and has since spread elsewhere. The style has been embraced by
evangelical and often non-denominational churches in the South and
Midwest, some called ''mega-churches" because their congregations number
in the thousands. The idea for selling Starbucks coffee at Grace Capital
Church came from one such place of worship, the Willow Creek Community
Church outside Chicago.

Grace Capital Church signals the expansion of the trend into New England.
It is affiliated with International Church of the Foursquare Gospel, a
Pentecostal denomination based in Los Angeles. It is one of an estimated
300 evangelical churches in the state, a number that has doubled over the
past decade, according to the New Hampshire Council of Churches.

Worship services at Grace Capital feature a multipiece band with electric
guitar, drums, and flute backing the choir. Video screens anchored to the
ceiling flash the words to prayers. Dress is casual and seating is in
unanchored chairs arranged in a semi-circle around the low-rise altar.

''We didn't want a churchy feeling," said Bonanno.

Starbucks, church leaders say, is a natural addition to the environment.

''People drinking coffee, relating to one another, loving each other,"
Jerry Cook, a pastor visiting last Sunday from a Foursquare Gospel church
in Seattle, where Starbucks is also sold. ''That's the essence of

Grace Capital Church has grown quickly. It started in a living room eight
years ago, later relocated to a school, and last July moved into a new
building overlooking the Suncook River. The beige-walled sanctuary holds
600 and is regularly near capacity. About half its congregants are former
Catholics, according to church officials.

''Growing up Catholic, the whole thing about church was about not being
allowed to do much of anything -- having to stand, kneel," said Jon
Berger, 34, a corporate driver, as he entered the sanctuary with a tall
Starbucks in hand. ''Here you can have a cup of coffee and be relaxed."

Still, Berger and others noted that the allure of the church runs deeper
than Starbucks.

''Christians like coffee," said Rick Bagley, 39, a general contractor.
''But what draws us here is Jesus Christ."

Monday, January 17, 2005


I know that there are a few of you out there who read this blog. I really appreciate that! Let's make the most of this blog experience ok? Let me know your thoughts (agree or disagree) on the stuff I write in this space ok? All you have to do is click the "comment" button at the bottom of the entry that you want to riff on. Hope to hear from some of you guys soon.

Friday, January 07, 2005

Aldersgate 2005

Just got back from Baguio City where we held the annual Aldersgate Spiritual Renewal Conference. Over 450 delegates. This is about half of what we normally got in the past years but I'm sure several uncontrollable factors accounted for this. The good thing about it is that it seemed about 80% of attendees were first timers. It felt like we were doing the first Aldersgate ever! The response was very pleasing to those of us on the Board. And....we ended up in the black! It was the most peaceful and stress-free conference we've done thus far.

I was amazed at the lingering impact of my opening message, "Be the Miracle." Even to the last day, people remembered the whole outline: Dream Big, Act Now, Stand Out, Hang On. Be the miracle.

Simple is powerful.