It’s now widely recognized that we are in a retail apocalypse, with major retailers plummeting in sales, stock value, and vision. Macy’s, JC Penny, Sears, and Kohl’s seem destined to follow in the footsteps of Borders Books and Sport Chalet (R.I.P). I got a $5 Starbucks card for taking a survey in a large mall recently, and the main question was, “What stores do you want to go in the anchor locations when we lose the ones we have?” (Contenders included Target and Costco.)
Churches are like Macy’s. A lot like Macy’s.
The European churches that were shuttered ahead of American churches were our Borders. At that point, everyone should have paid very close attention to what was coming. What happened instead? Churches fought over homosexuality and opposed stylistic change. Especially those of the Protestant denominational variety have lost their status as cultural centers in communities.
Department stores need to shed buildings and develop fluid online connectivity. Churches need to shed the trappings of Christian yesteryear and ask a lot more questions about what people who aren’t Christians are concerned about and listening to.
I talk to a number of pastors who are worried about this. Some are leading entrepreneurial ventures to reach a lost world. I talk to a few parishioners who are content to float from church to church on an experiential Easter egg hunt. Fortunately, I’m blessed to be a part of a church with a God-sized vision that isn’t wed to anachronisms.
It’s painful to listen to people that they don’t want things to change, because they like it the way it is, or was. So it’s time for an assessment of our vision and values. Are we about the mission of God, or are we about the institution that we joined 20 years ago, which we hope stays as is because of all the good memories?