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4 Ministry Tips From the Starbucks “Name Thing”

 —  June 16, 2014 — 1 Comment

I would like to say thank you to “San.”  San was my barista at Starbucks the other day. My grandmother “called it,” when I was named after her. She said to my Mom,  “No one will be able to spell it,  and even less will be able to pronounce it.”  Then Starbucks decided it was time to step up and get a reputation for it’s customer service, by asking for our name.  We all have seen the posts about the number of names the workers get wrong. Yet, as Kurt pointed out last week in his Starbucks post, I think there are some customer service tips we can apply to ministry. Here’s my experience: You tell them your name, but they never ask you how to spell it, or anything else. They make assumptions. Come on now, you mean to tell me you have heard “Leneita” before?  I didn’t think so:   Lyndia

Ministry Tip One:

Ask people about themselves. Get to know them. Just telling someone you are “welcoming” is hardly experiencing true hospitality. Get to know people. All they ever have to do is say, “I haven’t ever heard that before, could you spell it?”  It takes two seconds, and makes me feel taken care of. Then there are others who actually ask, but don’t really listen. They don’t clarify what they have heard. They think they know, so they just sort of go with the flow. Believe it or not I spelled it out for this guy. He got a little flustered:   lienta

Ministry Tip Two:

Don’t be afraid to go the extra mile. Sometimes a student comes through the door we met once before and we forget their name. It takes genuine humility to admit that we forgot.  Make sure they know they are wanted and needed in your group. Your pride should never outshine the need to let a student know they matter. If this guy had just said, “I didn’t hear you, could you repeat yourself,” it would have made all the difference. There is one Starbucks I frequent.  They sort of know the drink I will ask for. Some of the staff call me by the correct name, others don’t. They think they know me, but still haven’t really asked about the spelling. They try, sort of. It’s nice to be welcomed with a “Hi,” still, I can’t say I feel like I belong. This was all in the same visit: two names

Ministry Tip Three:

Be fully in with your students.  We hear our students are searching for “authenticity,” yet are we willing to show them what that looks like?  Will our conversations with them be fearless? Can we be willing to go beyond the surface and invite our students to ask us about the tough stuff? If these staff people I see often would just talk to me, we might solve this problem. Then there was, “San.”  The other day I trekked into Starbucks on a gloomy day. This gentleman greeted me with a huge smile. He asked for my order. Then he asked me to spell my name. He repeated the spelling back to me; twice. He then called me by name the rest of our interaction. We had a lovely chat about how awful the weather was. While this particular store is not close to my home, “San” created an experience that gave me a strong desire to return to interact with him. San gave me this beauty: leneita 1

Ministry Tip Four:

San  sought to develop a relationship with me. This is how ministry works. Our students don’t really come looking for programming, they want connection. Can we set up  “systems” that are all just catalysts to go deeper with each other? My favorite Starbucks “trick” is they ask your name at the counter, but then the person who calls out your order just yells the drink order. I often think, “Why did we just do this name dance if it didn’t matter?” As youth leaders, our greatest desire is that our students will come anticipating an encounter with the living God. Often the first step is by giving a glimpse through the way we interact with them. Jesus always goes above and beyond. It might sound corny- but so should we. What do you think?

Leneita Fix

Leneita Fix


Leneita Fix is the Director of Ministry Development for Aslan Youth Ministries, a family focused urban ministry serving Monmouth County New Jersey and Haiti. She has been working in some form of youth and family ministry for almost 22 years. In addition she has launched the coaching and resource organization, Front Line Urban Resources with Jeffrey Wallace serving those who work with families living in survival mode. The early years were spent in camp ministry, suburban and rural youth groups. With the Lord’s moving the last 17 of those years have been spent ministering in three different urban areas to primarily unchurched families (New Jersey, Virginia, Florida back to New Jersey). Her responsibilities have included Bible based program direction for children ages 5-18, curriculum writing, staff training and recruiting, discipleship, resource creation and speaking to national audiences. Her passion is to raise up workers in practical, relationship-driven methods while remaining in the trenches with the youth and families she loves. Her goal is to help others understand every student living in a survival mindset can and will be transformed in Christ. One of her greatest joys is serving in ministry as a family with her husband three wonderful children, and her niece. Simply she resides among her friends in the city just living life as a family that loves being there. You can contact her at leneitafix@aslanyouth.org.

One response to 4 Ministry Tips From the Starbucks “Name Thing”

  1. Wow. This is a simple, yet profound post. Love it L-E-N-E-I-T-A! Thanks!

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