Convenience Store Christianity

I’ve recently been with believers from another part of the world, and I was again reminded that our brothers and sisters around the world often pay a heavier price than we pay to follow Christ. I don’t want to overstate the case here—as I really do believe that many, many believers I know truly love the Lord and have dedicated their lives to Him—but much of North American Christianity seems to be what I call “Convenience Store Christianity.” I’ll let you determine the comparisons:   

  1. What the customer wants is first. A primary aim of a convenience store is to increase its traffic by offering almost everything a customer might want or need. In some cases with drive-thrus, the customer doesn’t even need to get out of his car to get what he wants.  

  1. Customers seek what they want quickly and efficiently. Hence, the stores are called “convenience,” and they show up on about every corner. The goal is to make shopping easier for the consumer.  

  1. Customers stop in according to their schedule and wants. Twenty-four-hour convenience stores say, “Come whenever you want.” Conversely, if you don’t have a need, there’s no reason to stop in.  

  1. Relationships might exist, but they’re not deep. Some convenience stores have become “third places” for those who just want to hang out there – and those folks are on a first-name basis with the workers – but the relationships are hardly strong and self-denying.  

  1. Store loyalty is about location, habit, and reward rather than ideological agreement. Nobody I know thinks, “I really need to do my convenience-store shopping at __________ because they believe ___________.” People shop where they shop because it’s quick and easy—and rewarding for those shoppers whose store offers rewards for frequent purchases.  

  1. Breadth more than depth is the norm. Convenience stores often offer some of a lot of different things (I’ve seen stores that now offer gasoline, hot food, clothing, and even automobile oil) rather than a lot of any one thing.  

  1. Even in a convenience store, customers still watch for sales. It’s not enough to have the convenience of shopping quickly; folks also like saving time and money. “Sacrifice” seldom enters the vocabulary of this world.  

  1. Immediacy matters. For many shoppers, convenience stores offer immediate options to meet a need; in fact, that’s one of the reasons for being a convenience store. The terms “waiting” and “convenience” are contradictory terms.  

Any other characteristics that come to mind?   


  • You hit the nail on the head with this one.

  • Landon Coleman says:

    Regrettably, I think much of this is spot on for churches today.

  • Robin Jordan says:

    Convenience stores are open 24 hours or until late at night. Convenience stores are frequented at these late hours by intoxicated customers seeking to buy more alcohol and recreational marijuana users suffering from what is called in the 1960s “the mad munchies”–a strong craving for what may later prove to be indigestible food. Convenience stores are often the target of armed robbers. They are also the haunts of those who have nocturnal habits and may be described as “the people of the night.” In some areas these folks may include homeless runaway teenagers who have turned to prostitution and are looking for a “john” and those who prey on these runaways. All kinds of tragedies occur in and around convenience stores. Children left alone in cars, shootings, stabbings, and that sort of thing. Convenience stores may be the only store where the poor may buy groceries often at high prices in impoverished neighborhoods. That’s what comes to mind when I think about conveniences stores in United States. I have a different view of convenience stores in Japan.

  • I may not want to pay the high price, but the locality is convenient; in other words, I’ll go to church because it’s expected, but it might be any denomination just so I can say I went.

  • Robin Jordan says:

    The Japanese are a very hard working people. They work late hours. If their boss works overtime, they work overtime. Japan has been described as a nation of workaholics. If they are single or their spouse also works, they may not have time to shop at a supermarket. Japan may have the most convenience stores and vending machines in the world. Convenience stores meet a real need for the Japanese people. They are typically open 24 hours and offer a wide range of products, including prepared meals that customers can either eat in the convenience store or take home with them. The sales personnel staffing the convenience stores are courteous and helpful. Japanese convenience stores provide employment, both part-time and full-time, for those who might not otherwise find work. Having a job and being engaged in some form of employment that benefits society is highly valued in Japan. The unemployed are not regarded favorably.

    We can learn from Japanese convenience stores. How many churches offer services on other days beside Sunday and at other times beside the tradition Sunday time slot? How many churches have courtesy, friendly members who always welcome first-time guests when they come to a church and go out of their way to help them? How many churches provide opportunities for people to engage in meaningful service to the community? How many churches can honestly say their members are perceived as highly-valued members of society?

  • No this is a great post but change the wording to a Convenience Store Online Singles Ministry. When connecting the un-churched to a church they are looking for an immediate need met normally loneliness. What I do is provide is Contact,time,place,directions and descriptions of different singles ministries. To get them to sign up I do 3 socials on 4th Friday night and special holiday events.

    Convenience store ministry is all in the presentation and how you look at your world. My example of a Good Convenience Store Ministry concept is a sunday night services for adults with a high school ministry going on at the same time. In divorce, church is where we exchange children for divorce parents. So one parent connects their children to their church but if the other divorced parent had a church with a sunday adult services and a high school ministry in their community, the other divorced parent can connect their children to their church also. So Sunday Night Services can be an immediate need.

    My most common request is from 20-something women trying to find other 20-somethings to be in a church with.( This is my second hardest event
    to get a church to advertise) In a multi-generational event advertise on line that you have a group of 20-something sitting at a particular area of the event, those 20-somethings can meet other 20-somethings

  • Mark Murack says:

    While there needs to be some theological agreement I think our North American culture has exalted worshipping our interpretations of truth to a level of unnecessary division. Jesus said they will know us by our love for one another and that’s what was attraction all about the early church. Maybe if we began to gather with the mentality of a family instead of simply attending church to be served it would change our expectations and experience while we are there. In my own family none of us see everything the same but our love for one another is bigger then those differences andit grows as we serve one another. When my family gets together for holiday celebrations we don’t all sit back and let my mother do all the work and then judge her food compared to a restaurant we attended a few days earlier. The fun is in the participation and involving invited guests so we get to know one another. I don’t think Jesus died to bring us a new religion, but bring us into a family where we learn how to love like a healthy family should … just my musings for today

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