Why the Loss of Brick-and-Mortar Stores Could Be a Boon For Churches

Churches could benefit from the closing of brick-and-mortar stores. (Jose Fontano on Unsplash)

Everyone is lamenting how Amazon and other online retailers are destroying traditional retailing in America—specifically when it comes to brick-and-mortar stores such as Barnes & Noble, Sears, Kmart, J.C. Penney and others.

But the truth is, the shift from retail stores to online could be a huge plus for churches and ministry organizations. I've recently visited churches that used to be shopping malls, corporate retreat centers, big box stores and car dealerships, and today are thriving.

In Las Vegas, I recently talked with my longtime friend Benny Perez, pastor of the ChurchLV, who's transforming a Kmart building into a new sanctuary. Here's what Benny said about the experience:

"We decided to buy a 90,000-square-foot Kmart building three minutes from the Las Vegas airport for our second campus. After looking at buying land and building from the ground up, we realized the cost factor was too great. So, we began to look for big-box buildings, which we knew we could buy for half the cost of building.

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"We got an amazing deal on a piece of property and after doing our due diligence, we purchased the building. We will have a state-of-the-art campus with all the parking we need because of the building being in a shopping center. So, it was a no-brainer based on cost, parking, build-out and visibility. The church also gave more readily to a building they could already see and with renderings, we were able to raise millions of dollars. I encourage every pastor to look for buildings in your city you can buy, as big-box stores are going out of business."

Pastor Benny Perez has it right. Someone once said that when the economy struggles, it's too late to advertise. The same may be true of facilities. Always be looking at unusual places, because I've seen over and over again how God used an unusual building to help a church grow.

Phil Cooke is a media producer, consultant and author. He's produced TV and film programming in more than 60 countries around the world, and in the process, been shot at; survived two military coups; fallen out of a helicopter; and in Africa, been threatened with prison. And during that time—through his company Cooke Media Group in Los Angeles, California—he's helped some of the largest Christian and nonprofit organizations in the world use the media to tell their story in a changing, disrupted culture.

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