There are a lot of cool churches in the world.
Congregations trying the latest ideas, ministries using cutting-edge graphics, and worship bands leading us in the newest songs.
I like cool churches.
It’s great to see them keeping up to date, trying innovative methods, and putting all they can into reaching a new generation in a language they can understand.
Then, there are the Walmart churches.
I call them Walmart churches because they’re filled with people you’d see at a typical Walmart. They’re not dressed in the latest fashions, singing the newest songs, or using the latest graphics and videos.
I like Walmart churches, too.
It’s great to see people who aren’t worried about acting cooler than the next church, and who have created a place where regular folk feel they belong.
The Overlooked Church
Walmart churches sing songs everyone knows because they don’t change all that often. And the building is decorated (not designed, decorated) for Christmas, Easter, summer and Thanksgiving by a handful of women in the church who will reuse last year’s decorations again this year.
Cool churches get all the attention. Others look to them for how to rebrand their look, update their programs and modernize their facility.
Walmart churches get overlooked a lot. They’re often considered irrelevant, outdated and underperforming. No one turns to them for the latest trend-setting ideas. Instead, they’re often told to update or close down.
Unlike Walmart stores, most Walmart churches aren’t very big. But there are a lot of them. And a lot of people go to them for worship, fellowship, ministry and more.
Like Walmart stores, Walmart churches are friendly, helpful, familiar, and they don’t make anyone feel intimidated for not keeping up with the latest fashions.
Walmart Churches For Walmart People
I like Walmart churches precisely because they don’t care how they look to others. They know who they are and who they’re called to reach. And they’re reaching a lot of people who don’t want a church that’s cool, hip and stylish, but warm, simple and familiar.
I like innovation in church (“innovative” is the first word in the tagline for this blog, after all) but I know that keeping up with the latest societal trends isn’t necessary to do great ministry.
We need a lot of Walmart churches because the world is filled with Walmart people. Folks who live simply, work hard, change slowly, spend wisely, give generously and minister with wide-open hearts.
Remind Us Of What Matters
If you lead or attend a cool church, keep innovating and showing the rest of us what might be coming in a year or a decade from now.
I appreciate your pioneering spirit. I know you take lot of unwarranted criticism for trying new things that often look silly to others simply because you’re trying to minister well in a quickly-changing cultural landscape.
But if you lead or attend a Walmart church, keep doing what you’re doing, too. We need you to remind us of what we can never leave behind as we chase after the latest idea.
That worship is about the heart, not the song selection.
That people matter more than programs.
That substance trumps style.
That a friendly conversation is a better invitation than a flashy advertising campaign.
That a life of integrity is a great testimony.
And that Jesus judges us by our hearts, not by the label on our shirt.
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