Beyond Mega-Mall Christianity

I've noticed a cultural shift since the 1980's. Huge shopping malls are losing their luster. Shoppers now seek out niche and boutique shops and retailers. Of course, there are still "big box" specialty stores for office supplies and inexpensive clothing outlets. But even those retailers feel the absence of stay-at-home online shoppers.

Curious thing — the same time period saw the rise of mega-churches, Christianity that offers everything from coffee shops, book stores, recreation centers, and of course, for worship gatherings. All produced with excellence. All under one roof. And many still seek "big box" goods and services. At least for specialty needs. But, at least in my observation, younger generations like neighborhood alternatives and more boutique Christian communities. Sadly, many just stay at home and online.

Has the 'Boomer phenomenon of mega-churches (pioneered in my generation) tracked the "big box" rise and fall of shopping malls? Christian consumerism certainly has not disappeared. Though I don't hear as much "seeker-friendly" talk, there is still no lack of churches who market and re-brand the gospel rather than embody it. It's a temptation for every generation — local churches can exist to serve "me, mine, us, and ours," rather than exist for God and for our neighbors.

But there's one thing for which I am very grateful. Growing numbers of professing Christians are discovering you don't need a big church to know and love a big God. Increasing numbers of new Christian communities are springing up to be kingdom embassies, serving Christ the King through worship. And sending ambassadors in his Name to embody the Gospel and serve their neighbors. Amen to that!