Sunday, January 30, 2005

are supermarkets emerging church

I read this quote recently; Recently I spoke to an architect at a local firm who works exclusively on churches. He’s designed two megachurches in the metropolitan area, and told me that certain elements are commonly used to make megachurches look and feel like shopping malls. Like any successful business, location, convenience and service are key. Article here

And my skins crawls. I hate the way that church is linked with supermarket and convenience and money.

Hang on though, I often preach about the need for the church to be closer to the culture. And emerging church is meant to embrace postmodern culture. Supermarkets are part of postmodern culture. So, why are some parts of the culture OK, and others not?

Steve the puzzled emergent

Posted by steve at 03:46 PM


  1. From Douglas Coupland’s “Generation X”

    “The Emperor’s New Mall : The popular notion that shopping malls exist on the insides only and have no exterior. The suspension of visual belief engendered by this notion allows shoppers to pretend that the large, cement blocks thrust into their environment do not, in fact, exist.”

    Maybe that’s how churches end up being perceived by their members – what’s on the inside is important, not what’s outside. And the “impact” of the church in the wider community (physically, socially) doesn’t enter their minds. They can ignore the fact that they are embedded in a wider reality.

    Comment by StephenG — January 30, 2005 @ 5:17 pm

  2. do you have more of an issue with the church being seen as a supermarket or a product?

    i can’t remember who it was that likened mega-churches to resorts instead of supermarkets. resorts offer a wide range of activities and you don’t actually have to leave a resort at any time during a holiday, similarly you can get almost all you need from the resort-church.

    perhaps it was pete ward…

    Comment by the other darren — January 31, 2005 @ 12:58 pm

  3. Surely that’s a key part of what engagement is all about? It’s not about the unquestioning embrace of culture that some liberals have been accused of, nor the entire retreat from it which some conservatives have been accused of. Nor even the surface rejection and internal embrace that seems to be the case with so much of the “CCM” mindset.

    If we’re going to engage, we’re going to find some things which are good and some things which are bad, and we’re going to need to think that through, work out whether we’re right to label them that way, and then act appropriately.

    My personal problems with supermarkets are: that they damage their consumers’ local communities by drawing money out of those local economies, perpetuating a car-ridden culture, and fragmenting many formerly social activities; they have huge lobbying power over farmers and are largely responsible for the continuance of factory-farming, selling it to their customers on the basis of price; and because many of them are engaged in exploitative practices in poorer countries.

    Obviously each of those issues need to be seen with its nuances. Obviously we can choose to stop shopping at supermarkets and that can have some impact, though it will be hard to break their strangleholds on the farming industry, and unless a large number of people move over the prices will be far higher for those of us who try to avoid shopping at supermarkets. There’s a lot to work through.

    Which is all a large tangent to say that moving closer to culture and engaging with it is necessarily going to require thinking through some complex situations. I’ve long guessed that that’s why it’s not a more popular notion.

    Comment by James — February 1, 2005 @ 3:26 am

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