Mall Church

17Apr08

This idea has been brewing in me for a long time. I’m PSYCHED about it, and I’ll probably blog A TON about it until I get some comments!

Here is the brief version, longer version to come. But first some setup:

PROBLEMS:
– Church buildings lie mostly dormant during the week. This is kind of a waste of resources – having unused facilities
– Church/Christianity needs to connect more with culture
– Church potentially needs more streams of revenue (blogosphere says no one is tithing)
– I want another third place to hang-out, like Barnes & Noble + Starbucks + Movies + living room

Solution:
Ebenezer’s Coffee House in D.C. is a large coffee house run by Mark Batterson’s church. They’re engaging their culture by meeting right where lots of “outsiders” hang-out. So too, Chris Seay’s church – Ecclesia – has a fair trade coffee shop, art gallery, and runs community programs out of their building during the week. I feel like this is good steward ship of their building (better use of money by utilizing the building more) + better connection with the community (more effective outreach by the church).

Therefore, I propose that more churches assume this model. Specifically, I dream of a church, Like Barnes & Noble, that is like a fun hang-out at a mall. And it has rooms for bible studies, and a stage for Sunday church meetings. Also it has books, coffee, very cool architecture and comfy couches, art, nightly performances by local bands? Guest speakers and lecturers (secular as well as Christian), book club meetings.

The problem with having it in a mall is that there are probably lots of restrictions on what you can and can’t do. And it would probably be more Christ-like to have a free clinic and services for the poor – it might be better stewardship to make it more like a library + hospital, rather than a hipster hang-out.

I just think it would be so great to have the Church be almost like a community center. Thus, having church meetings in close relational/spatial proximity to “outsiders” would hopefully lead to more people visiting church and meeting Jesus.

I feel like this is a novel way to better utilize church buildings, perhaps gain some extra revenue, more easily interact with the community, more easily introduce people outside of church to a church and thus to Jesus.

What do you think? Is this a good idea? What problems do you see in it? What benefits? I really think this is an awesome idea, gimme your feedback – Please!

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2 Responses to “Mall Church”

  1. 1 Allison

    That sounds really neat!
    The main benefit would be, of course, the outreach aspect of it…the main problem I see is avoiding worldliness. It would be easier for a church like that to get corrupted…you’d just have to be careful :o)

  2. 2 jessephillips

    Hey Allison, thanks for your feedback. I agree, I think that is a temptation and a potential difficulty. I wonder how Mark Batterson at Ebenezer’s has dealt with this?

    allison, my favorite part about it is that it gets The Church really close to culture, and I feel like it could improve “ease of entry” for outsiders.

    Thanks for the comment!


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