Abercrombie & Church

September 14, 2009 by

The September 14 print edition of Fortune magazine had an article (no link) by Beth Kowitt on how mall owners have been thinking “outside of the (big) box” when it comes to finding traditional retailers to anchor and inhabit their monstrous consumer jungles.

For malls that are struggling to retain consistent tenants, they are looking to creative ways to fill their space and ultimately attract more crowds. The old idiom of a “rising tide floats all boats” is how malls live and breathe. One of their solutions?


According to the article, at least 63 churches have moved into malls in the second quarter of 2009 alone, according to CoStar Group.

In general, I’m not a fan of churches building their own campuses, so this idea of tapping into real estate that already exists makes a lot of sense. It’s not new. Churches meet in community centers, schools and theaters every week.

The idea of meeting in a shopping mall does add more dimension to the experience, both good and bad. On one hand, the association doesn’t help the cause to distance consumerism from Christianity. On the other hand, it’s a great way to make a church community very accessible (known location, parking, food court, etc.)

Post By:

Brad Abare

Brad Abare is the founder of the Center for Church Communication. He consults with companies and organizations, helping them figure out why in the world they exist, why anyone should care and what to do about it.
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12 Responses to “Abercrombie & Church”

  • Greg
    September 14, 2009

    This is a perfect example of “churches” going to where the people already are instead of waiting for people to come find them at THEIR location.
    Glad to hear about churches taking advantage of the available real estate.

  • Dan Smith
    September 14, 2009

    I think there is more good than bad to this, as long as the rent isn’t too bad. Definitely agree that campuses need to go away if possible, so renting makes sense there, as well as does parking, which is a nightmare at some churches. In the end, I think that it makes sense.

  • erickyp
    September 14, 2009

    Or you can do like we do. We meet in a movie theater in an outdoor mall.

  • Todd
    September 14, 2009

    So many people are intimidated by walking into churches, from the parking lot to the forced friendliness of greeters. Many churches are finding more success reaching people by branching out to nontraditional spaces. Like National Community Church in DC that meets in coffee houses, movie theaters, etc., all connected by a video feed. Each location maintains a different personality and feel. Why not?

  • nate
    September 14, 2009

    Sounds nearly awesome.
    I envision a mall with nothing but churches…50, 60 to choose from. After all, American Christianity values choice and trend over truth…why not offer denominational choice all in one locale?
    I would prefer almost no stores in this mall (only a few christian bookstores, and a quintessential hip coffee shop or two).

  • Jesse Phillips
    September 14, 2009

    VERY INTERESTING! I like the idea if churches will be closer to non church goers. I also would love for churches to use the space throughout the week as a hip coffee shop, bookstore, midweek gathering space, hosting lectures, artists, musical acts, etc – really engaging outsiders during the week.
    I think this has GREAT potential. Tho I am scared, too, about the consumeristic implications!

  • Rosemary
    September 14, 2009

    I grew up in a neighborhood that had a storefront church on every block.
    While it saddens me to think that the mall is becoming a primary place for community in our culture, I can’t think of any reason churches should avoid our culture’s latest community center.

  • Phil Cooke
    September 14, 2009

    And don’t forget all the auto dealerships that are being abandoned around the country. Great space, huge parking… perfect.

  • Brandon Bowers
    September 14, 2009

    I’ve also heard that old Circuit City stores are becoming churches. We have 2 empty CC stores in my town.

  • Agent4Christ
    September 15, 2009

    Its a sad testament to our times that malls are more populated on Sunday than most community churches – especially with our teen age youth.
    While I hold mix feelings on traditional churches having a 100% establishment within a mall dedicated to mass consumption, I do believe a shopping mall does hold some potential for capturing more teenagers who are just “hanging out” with friends.
    Why not provide a “cool” place for Christian teens to have fellowship together as well as the opportunity to invite their secular fiends to in a less threatening venue so they may still receive Christ’s message.
    Just because we’re Christian’s doesn’t necessarily translate into the mandate one can not also laugh and have fun.

  • Ted
    September 15, 2009

    If a mall allows a church as tenant, they face a multitude of legal nightmares. I see nothing but conflicts with mall management and the church — like, what they can and can’t advertise, what they can teach/can’t teach, where they can witness on mall property, where they can gather on property, etc., etc. Noise level, length of meetings. And that’s before you figure in the complaints and issues with the public.

  • Dennis Cummins
    September 16, 2009

    I think it is an amazing option to be able to reach out into the community and be where the people are. You know the old adage, Location, Location, Location. If a church can afford the lease – go for it. Besides I like the contemporary look of a comercial space over a traditional steeple look.

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