Will church go the way of the bookstore?

…in the Meantime author, David Lose, asks if churches and bookstores are on the same path:

When I read an article by Seth Godin on the woes of book publishers recently, I couldn’t help but think about the similarities between the situation he describes and the challenges facing our congregations.

His summary statement of the problem is striking:

…the challenge the big book publishers are facing is that a perfect industry is being replaced by one filled with chaos and opportunity.

What does he mean by “perfect”? Simply that book publishers – and the stores that depended on them – enjoyed a monopoly on the means of producing and selling books. As he writes,

Limited shelf space plus limited competitors plus well-understood cost of creation and production meant that stability reigned. The industry was polished and understood.

For three hundred years or so, book publishing had nothing in common with technology businesses where the underlying economics of the business were questioned regularly.

Substitute “church” for “book publishers,” make just a few contextual adjustments, and you’re almost there. We, too, operated within a near “perfect” industry in that as long as a significant percentage of people went to church we enjoyed something of a monopoly. While we might have competed with ourselves (Methodist vs. Lutheran vs. Presbyterian, etc.), our culture placed a high value on church attendance – think of the “blue laws” that governed most states. This ensured that we had very little competition on Sunday mornings. For that reason, for about three hundred years or so (at least in this country), we in church leadership also had little reason to question our practices.

Read more here.

Past Posts