Thursday, August 18, 2011

Borders = the Church (sort of)

I loved going into Borders bookstores, perusing books, magazines, and CDs. There was a two year stretch where I toured and performed at a lot of the Borders stores across the Midwest. But those days are over. Borders is closing (or rather, CLOSED).

And why devote a post to its closing?

Because I see a direct correlation between Borders and the Church...

Borders didn't close because it was selling the wrong books and CDs. It didn't close because the coffee bar wasn't as good as its competitor. Borders closed because it lost the battle of language.

Culture moved in the way(s) it communicated (if only by a small percentage) and Borders didn't speak the language. It lagged in its ability to communicate, and now its closed because of its obsolescence.

Okay, delete Borders and insert Church.

For years now we have been provided data and sobering statistics regarding the future of the Church.

It's dwindling. Church attendance is primarily generational and familial. So what's wrong with that? The generational drop and departure from the Church is nearing 90%. The family is getting exponentially smaller, and a generational approach will not last.

So, am I saying the Church will die?

Because the Church is not defined by fancy buildings, stained glass windows, contemporary services, or traditional liturgies. The Church is a movement that cannot be defined by brick and mortar.

HOWEVER, I believe the future will look vastly different than what comes to mind today. It will look vastly different because the language has changed. And just like Borders, the Church has lagged in the language game.

Though Borders closed, people will continue to read books (though the format may change, and change again). Borders was simply the brick and mortar behind literary and artistic distribution.

The Church that emerges (I believe) will be a healthier and more vibrant force that is about living the gospel through relationships, justice, and grace.

Many will say that the Church died. But the Church can't die.
Buildings can. Styles can. Denominations can. But the Church will not.

The Church was birthed by 12, and we must never forget that.

Let's use Borders as a cultural lesson that language, pace, and context is of vast importance. The vibrance of the local church will be defined by its ability to speak the same language of its city.

The future of the Church will be in creating culture, not merely responding to it. And for that, I am hopeful!


1 comment:

Dale & Lisa Taylor said...

This is a great post, Ross. I'd add something about Red Box vs. Blockbuster if I was brainy enough. I agree that so many congregations are going down the drain, but they seem powerless to think creatively and make innovative changes in how they interact with our culture. We didn't stop watching movies just because Blockbuster is going bankrupt, we just found a better, more responsive way to get them through Red Box. People like you who are "doing" church in new ways and "being" authentic Christians are going to blaze the way for the rest of the church, I think.

We all just need a little bit more courage in order to try different things and break away from old models that don't have anything to do with Christ or the Bible anyway.

Preach on!