It was announced a few days ago that Family Christian Stores — a large chain where you could buy Bibles, whatever Joel Osteen just published, Christian music, cross necklaces, etc. — would be closing all 240+ locations due to “changing consumer behavior and declining sales.”
That makes sense, of course. Bookstores in general have been having a rough time over the past decades (bye-bye, Borders), and a niche bookstore likely struggled even more. The company’s recent history included a lot of red ink.
The proper reaction, then, is empathy for the people who will lose their jobs and perhaps a conversation about what, if anything, the business could have done to survive.
But not conservative website WND’s Jim Fletcher. Rather than blaming economic forces, he’s blaming the chain itself because it sold Christian books — including ones written by liberal authors — that were often more popular than the Bible itself.
They did it to themselves.
The explosion came from within, as decades of pandering to the lowest-common denominator within evangelicalism resulted in poorly educated Christians who have read more about Jesus in “Jesus Calling” than from the Bible.
Whereas CBA [the Association for Christian Retail] for years has allowed the Brian McLarens and Health Communications of the world to be featured at the summer convention, Family Christian Stores has taken a front-row, star-studded table at the front. A powerful entity, Family was courted by publishers and their sales reps. The result was a multi-headed monster that gouged itself on heretical books and other materials.
Mystical, contemplative spirituality, weird experiential-driven claptrap, and social justice progressivism passes today for Christian resources. They all contribute to the biblical illiteracy in this country.
At the Family Christian Stores fire sale, one can find books by Jen Hatmaker (a Never-Trumper, socially progressive “evangelical”), Hillsong’s Brian Houston and William Paul Young, who wrote “The Shack.”
Right… How dare a bookstore sell a wider variety of books that might appeal to a larger customer base?! They clearly don’t know the first thing about business: If you sell fewer items, more people will buy them.
Fletcher is frustrated that the demise of the chain won’t mean the end of those books.
The irony is, while Family Christian Stores has imploded, the carcass will simply remain for a while on the highway of “Christian” resources, and the road is well traveled. If books are no longer sold by Family Stores, they will be sold by Amazon, or Saddleback Church, or North Point, or Willow Creek. Et cetera.
You see, a dirty secret of the Evangelical world is that if heretical books no longer have a home in bankrupt retail stores, they live and thrive in conferences, mega-churches, and media.
In Fletcher’s world, every Christian bookstore would focus on a single book, and only sell other products that point to how amazing that Bible is. No criticism. No questioning. No alternative perspectives.
If Family Christian Stores had just invested more in their KJV-coated bubble instead of trying to reach more people, they would totally be around right now. Economic forces be damned.