Upgrading the Mall

We were invited to do a multi-day meeting at a football field. Concerts, testimonies, preaching. When word spread that a shopping mall was doing its grand opening that same week, we were contracted to work three days in the mall commons area with music and banter. We did 3-4 sets each day before heading for the football field.

We were the only gospel group to ever have a streaker. I heard the slap of bare feet on the concrete floor. She ran past the stage, past the guys buying snow cones and out the main door into the parking lot. (I didn’t look, Ethel.) That broadened my vision for retail ministries.

Brad Lomenick may not be a name you recognize. He is one of the leaders and influencers of young pastors and ministry leaders. He has worked with John Maxwell, started with Andy Stanley and for a decade was head visionary for the para-church resource group Catalyst.

He was asked during an interview what he was hearing pastors and ministry leaders talking about. Where do they see the great needs the Gospel of the Kingdom should be focusing on?

  1. Mental and soul care: Anxiety, depression, suicide, loneliness.
  2. Retail ministries.

Mall-located churches. With the death of mall shopping, there are many empty malls. I’ve been thinking strip-mall ministries (not to be confused with streakers) for a long time. But larger plants are found around the country. Churches are buying entire former mall structures with varied applications. Most use a former anchor store as auditorium and the store fronts for classrooms, health-care facilities/clinics and adult education.

I am attracted to a church anchor with commercial retail facilities. Lomenick points out the church facilities are paid for by rentals.

Besides coffee shops and restaurants, boutiques and general retail, counselor’s offices and walk-in ministries for mental and soul care issues would be a draw for the church ministries. Possibilities are limited only calling, imagination and needs. Mall management experience would be a big issue. I read about one church-mall renting to 24 congregations that could not afford their own building.

This excites me. This church model puts Kingdom ministries at a natural gathering center.

If you’ve got some money looking for a place to invest, I’ve got some ideas. For examples of where this is working,  write  “Church in mall” in your computer search engine.

(Streakers need not apply.)

©2019 D. Dean Benton

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