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What Future Church Are We Betting On?

Last night when I couldn’t sleep I started thinking about Christian bookstore closings — some recent, some future — and wondered what this says about the prospects for the Church of Jesus Christ here in Canada.

I know the realities of eBooks, online ordering and a general decline in reading that’s taking place in our screen-saturated culture. Those are the answers I give customers on a daily basis. My wife and my staff are tired of hearing the oft-repeated lines. People are spending too much leisure time and too many leisure time discretionary-spending dollars on their screen habits. People want their books yesterday and online ordering holds that promise. Our publishers helped create print-on-demand as an answer to out-of-print titles, and then roundly rejected in favor of electronic formats. We’re an industry in need of a hit. Our Canadian store pricing is based on the U.S. dollar so we’re in a deflationary cycle.

Yes, I know all those lines. And I have bills to pay, too. And competition from my suppliers. And rising costs; and especially, here in Ontario, wage costs that were totally skewed by a 50% increase in the minimum wage over seven years.

And yet, having considered all these factors, what does a store closing say about the possibility of revival or rebirth taking place in our local assemblies? What does a Christian supply shop shutting down say about the ongoing need to resource new Christians, Children’s ministry leaders, Bible college students, returning missionaries and church pastoral staff?

What future are we betting on when we close?

What future becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy if we close?

Psalm 137 – The Message

1-3 Alongside Babylon’s rivers
    we sat on the banks; we cried and cried,
    remembering the good old days in Zion.
Alongside the quaking aspens
    we stacked our unplayed harps;
That’s where our captors demanded songs,
    sarcastic and mocking:
    “Sing us a happy Zion song!”

4-6 Oh, how could we ever sing God’s song
    in this wasteland?
If I ever forget you, Jerusalem,
    let my fingers wither and fall off like leaves.
Let my tongue swell and turn black
    if I fail to remember you,
If I fail, O dear Jerusalem,
    to honor you as my greatest.

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