Christian Retailing

Written by Staff   
Thursday, 19 November 2009 04:46 PM America/New_York

The news that the U.K.'s leading Christian retail chain is up for sale has prompted one pastor there to suggest it's time for a new look at the strategic role such stores can play.

The threat that hangs over the future of the 40-odd Wesley Owen stores currently run by IBS-STL UK—which is seeking a buyer for them, along with its publishing and distribution divisions—is "an opportunity for fresh mission thinking and creative partnership between churches and the high (main) street," suggests Simon Jones.

" After all, our neighbors are regularly on the high street and rarely in our buildings," he observes at his blog. "The high street offers something they want.

"Analysts argue that shopping is a leisure activity and a source of 'spiritual' fulfillment in the absence of traditional organized religion. Missional thinkers have been rightly identifying consumerism as a rival god over recent years which makes the high street the place where we should be—as Paul was in amongst the idols of Athens—living and modeling a different form of spirituality to our neighbors.

"And where better to do this than in a retail space that offers coffee, conversation, Internet access, books for browsing and buying, people to pray, space for groups to gather on a regular basis. The Christian bookshop could become a vital missional space with a bit of imagination on the part of church leaders and Christian retailers.

"So are we up for this or will we all be lamenting the passing of the Christian presence on the high street the next time we gather at a conference to talk about how to do mission?"