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Is Your Church Part of Convenience Store Christianity?

Convenience Store Christianity

I’ve recently been with believers from another part of the world, and I was again reminded that our brothers and sisters around the world often pay a heavier price than we pay to follow Christ. I don’t want to overstate the case here—as I really do believe that many, many believers I know truly love the Lord and have dedicated their lives to Him—but much of North American Christianity seems to be what I call “Convenience Store Christianity.” I’ll let you determine the comparisons:

  1. What the customer wants is first. A primary aim of a convenience store is to increase its traffic by offering almost everything a customer might want or need. In some cases with drive-thrus, the customer doesn’t even need to get out of his car to get what he wants.
  1. Customers seek what they want quickly and efficiently. Hence, the stores are called “convenience,” and they show up on about every corner. The goal is to make shopping easier for the consumer.
  1. Customers stop in according to their schedule and wants. Twenty-four-hour convenience stores say, “Come whenever you want.” Conversely, if you don’t have a need, there’s no reason to stop in.
  1. Relationships might exist, but they’re not deep. Some convenience stores have become “third places” for those who just want to hang out there—and those folks are on a first-name basis with the workers—but the relationships are hardly strong and self-denying.
  1. Store loyalty is about location, habit and reward rather than ideological agreement. Nobody I know thinks, “I really need to do my convenience-store shopping at __________ because they believe ___________.” People shop where they shop because it’s quick and easy—and rewarding for those shoppers whose store offers rewards for frequent purchases.
  1. Breadth more than depth is the norm. Convenience stores often offer some of a lot of different things (I’ve seen stores that now offer gasoline, hot food, clothing and even automobile oil) rather than a lot of any one thing.
  1. Even in a convenience store, customers still watch for sales. It’s not enough to have the convenience of shopping quickly; folks also like saving time and money. “Sacrifice” seldom enters the vocabulary of this world.
  1. Immediacy matters. For many shoppers, convenience stores offer immediate options to meet a need; in fact, that’s one of the reasons for being a convenience store. The terms “waiting” and “convenience” are contradictory terms.

Any other characteristics that come to mind?

This article originally appeared here.

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Chuck Lawless currently serves as Professor of Evangelism and Missions and Dean of Graduate Studies at Southeastern Seminary. You can connect with Dr. Lawless on Twitter @Clawlessjr and on at facebook.com/CLawless.