Twice a day, every day, I drive past a dead mall, the former Hollywood Fashion Center at the corner of 441 and Hollywood Boulevard in Hollywood, Florida. The backstory:
The Hollywood Fashion Center was a shopping mall located at the South East corner of Hollywood Boulevard and US 441 in Hollywood, Florida. The mall opened in 1972, and had four anchor stores. With the opening of Pembroke Lakes Mall in nearby Pembroke Pines, Florida in 1992, most of the anchor stores in the Fashion Center moved to the bigger stores at Pembroke Lakes Mall. The mall closed in 1993.
Today, I remembered that ominous eulogy as I read these words from Os Guiness’ book Dining with the Devil:
Many superchurches are simply artificially inflated local churches with charismatically inflated super-pastors that will not be able to survive their supergrowth. After all, the grand and gleaming megamalls will soon become an anachronism themselves and so will the megachurches that have copied them.
That paragraph was published in 1993, the same year the Hollywood Fashion Center closed its doors. It couldn’t maintain its clients. The big stores wanted somewhere bigger; the uppity shoppers wanted somewhere uppity-er. Flashier. Newer. Cutting-edgier.
The Fashion Center couldn’t compete. And neither can our churches. Flashes of brilliance and effectiveness may streak across the sky, but there will not be any lasting impact, except perhaps a depressing spectacle of what used to be. People will move on to the next thing, and may God forbid that all we have left are huge and decaying monuments of former glory.