Not Wal-Mart

Should a church provide one-stop shopping?

Wal-Mart turned 50 in July.  This one-stop giant has been swallowing up mom-and-pop grocery, hardware, sporting good, pharmacy, and clothing stores since the Beatles belted out, “Can’t Buy Me Love.”  Love is about the only thing you can’t buy at WalMart.  There are 400,000 churches in America, the majority of them being mom-and-pops – churches of 50-100 people fulfilling a vital function in their neighborhoods.  But there are a growing number of WalMart churches – one-stop-megashops with everything you need under one roof and conveniently placed on the lowest shelves.

Though larger than most churches, Calvary has no aspirations to be a Wal-Mart church – not in terms of size or ‘products’ offered.  We take great joy in partnering with many other excellent churches in Rochester, both large and small.  Need Celebrate Recovery or Divorce-Care or Teen-MOPS or Alpha?  Calvary doesn’t have those, nor do we plan to add those.  Why would we when churches like Christ Community and Autumn Ridge and Meadow Park already have these up and running and done with excellence.  And why would these same sister-churches all over Rochester create their own Compassion Counseling Center or Journey of Hope or GriefShare ministries when God has blessed Calvary to host under our ministry roof?  We don’t want to be a mega-store.  We want to be a faithful kiosk, working with other local kiosks to introduce people in Rochester to Jesus and prepare them to spend eternity with Him.

Speaking of stores, some church-shoppers are looking for a Kwik-Trip church.  You know – get in, refuel, reload with the bare essentials (and some treats), and get out fast.  These people shop churches for convenience, and if another church gets them in and out quicker or at a lower personal cost, well, that’s where they stop.  While Calvary wants to work hard to help people refuel and pick up the essentials, we realize that in-and-out-fast is not what Jesus intended when He designed His Church.  We believe that just as we can’t follow Jesus at a sprint as individuals, we have to slow down as a church to truly refuel and connect.

Some people are looking for a Cinemagic church where they can be comfortable and entertained.  Cinemagic churches work hard to put their best team on the field because they realize they only have one chance to make a good first impression on those who show up.  The goal is an impressive show, and in most cases, the primary energy goes into a high-caliber worship experience.  Calvary does not want to be a Cinemagic church for multiple reasons, but the most important reason is that when it comes to worship, God is the audience.  Worship is not about us being entertained but about God being adored and lifted up.  And when it comes to the rest of the ministry, we don’t intend to entertain or impress either.  After all, you can’t put your best team on the field at all times and at the same time be training people to serve God in their unique ‘sweet spot.’

Some people are looking for a Walgreens church.  People go to Walgreens churches to look and feel better. While every church has the joy of spreading the Good News (that’s what the word ‘Gospel’ means), there is a fairly large load of bad news we must also embrace to appreciate the good news.  The Bible tells us that God intends to remodel each of us into new creatures.  If we were honest, we’d all admit the make-over is extreme.  And as any honest remodelors will tell a homeowner, ‘It’s gonna get worse before it gets better.’

What kind of church is your church?

So what kind of church does Calvary want to be?  Well, maybe a St.-Mary’s-Hospital-kind-of-church.  At St. Mary’s on any given day, you will find hundreds of people in progressive stages of disease and cure, and hundreds more compassionate workers caring for them, grateful it could be them laying on the operating table or ICU bed.  The goal at St. Mary’s is “to inspire hope and contribute to health and well-being… through the values of respect, compassion, integrity, healing, teamwork, excellence, innovation, and stewardship.”

I’d say that kind of church beats Wal-Mart, Kwik-Trip, Cinemagic, and Walgreens hands-down.

What do you think?

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