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The Wal-Mart Effect: On Church

September 5, 2007

I recently finished a book discussing the impact of Wal-Mart in our world today. I found it to be an interesting read as the author discussed how much Wal-Mart has impacted our economy and cost of living. The book also discussed how much it has changed our expectations when it comes to values and deals and it showed how it has changed shopping patterns and even the places people live.

All of this was very interesting but I couldn’t help but wonder if Wal-Mart has impacted the church today. If it has impacted our culture socially and economically has it also impacted us spiritually?

I’m not really sure because in the end it would be impossible to really know, but what do you think? Have everyday low prices impacted our expectations when it comes to church? Has it changed how we look at what a church does? Could we trace the consumer mentality in regards to church to the changes brought about by Wal-Mart?

I’m not mad at Wal-Mart or even trying to say they are bad, I just wonder if it would be good to understand what changes if any Wal-Mart may have brought to church.

You see we have been consumers for hundreds of years and yet it is only in the past twenty that people have started approaching church as consumers. Do people come to church looking for value, just as they approach merchandise at Wal-Mart?

If so would it be important to educate people on the cost of such value? People often purchase a new lawnmower each year because it is actually cheaper than repairing the $88 one they purchased at Wal-Mart. That is great for a toaster or a lawnmower but I’m not sure it is what you want for your family.

Does this value equation impact how we look at marriage? Parenting? Giving? If it does and it comes from the value equation of our culture what can or should the church do about it? Think about it, if I look at a church for value but overlook that that value comes at a high cost would I be more likely to invest in something more expensive knowing that would last? In the end Jesus constantly tried to move people past this type of value thinking. I’m interested in your thoughts.

In the end I wonder if there isn’t something important that the church can do to counter consumerism by looking at how people have positioned themselves counter to Wal-Mart. What are your thoughts? Has Wal-Mart changed how we approach church?

One Comment leave one →
  1. September 5, 2007 10:21 pm

    Good topic…Walmart is a faceless supplier. We don’t know the owners, recognize a single employee, and it’s so big and crowded, that you don’t even look at any other shoppers.

    Churches deal with consumerism in much the same way when people do not invest in connecting to the church’s history, leadership, or other worshippers.

    The attitude is, “I just want to get in and out in a hurry,” “Besides, we don’t really know anybody there anyway.”

    If mobility wasn’t as easy as it is–which I think is part of the consumerism problem–the corner shop would be better supported as well as the church on the corner.

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