I’m not ashamed to say that I spend many hours at Walmart in a given year—sometimes in just a month. Though it is not my favorite trip of the day, it is certainly one of the most convenient. Where else can I buy milk, t-shirts and motor oil?
And in some ways, Walmart can feel like a church; here’s what I mean.
There are greeters: they welcome you and they thank you for coming. There are goods and services: from nail salons to fast food joints to bank branches. And there are multiple messages: signage tells me what is on sale, what season we are in and how to be prepared for the flu.
Unfortunately, most of us view our local church through the same lens that we view Walmart. Does this one have the goods and services I’m looking for? Does this church have the type of messages I’d like to hear? Does this one serve me and meet my needs? And does it do so with minimal amounts of time, effort and money required of me? If not, then we move on to Target.
And while the idea of consumer-driven ministry is slowly stealing the soul of the church, what I’m more interested in is instead of us viewing the church as a trip to Walmart, what if we viewed Walmart as a trip to church?
Going to church is supposed to be a place to bring friends, greet others, share our faith, use our gifts, be generous, thank God and learn how to live like Jesus. Then we go to Walmart and we ignore others, are rude to cashiers, fight for a parking place and assume everyone else’s day is less important than ours.
Most of us sequester our church behaviors to a building, but what if we took the church to Walmart? Micah 6:8 tells us that what God requires of us is to act justly, love mercy and walk humbly with Him. How would Micah 6:8 look in Walmart?
When you head to Walmart, there are always people outside in need. Whether it is the person on the corner with the cardboard sign or the person in the parking lot with four kids, a carload of groceries and no one to return her cart. What if we stopped and asked the person on the corner, “What can I get you while I’m inside?” What if we helped the struggling mom by offering to take her cart in for her and what if every time we went inside we pushed a few stray carts in with us?
I’ll admit, I can become very impatient at Walmart. My father-in-law always says, “When you go to Walmart, if you expect to be in there a long time, you’ll always be relaxed.” So, instead of fighting for our desire to break the record of the quickest trip of being in and out, what if we let others cut in front of us? What if we said, “No, you first,” what if we parked far away rather than fighting the elderly for a front-row spot and what if when our cashier made a mistake or had to turn her light to flashing, we said, “That’s OK, no problem.”?
Remember the sage advice, “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” Well guess what, they are. You don’t know who in that store just got a cancer diagnosis or just found out they are headed to divorce court or perhaps just lost their job. Take time as you walk down the aisles to quietly pray for those around you, offer to help those who can’t reach something or encourage someone who seems discouraged. Humility is not thinking less of ourselves, but thinking of ourselves less often. So, take time in Walmart to see others, to recognize that the world doesn’t revolve around you and to be Jesus in the frozen foods.
Think what would happen if everyone who just came from church brought church with them to Walmart?!?! it just might change the world—one Walmart at a time.
This article originally appeared here.