Five years ago around this time of year, I was on my phone scrolling through social media when a few posts written by Christian friends grabbed my attention.
— “So tired of this corporate greed. The holidays are about faith and family. #StayHomeDontShop”
— “Take back Thanksgiving for Christ. #BoycottBlackFriday”
— “Camping out at home to avoid the wackos trampling each other over half-priced TVs.”
As I read these posts and watched online petitions get circulated by other Christians pledging not to shop on and around Thanksgiving, I felt vilified in my role at the time as a manager over six retail stores.
This time of year often brings out a propensity for Christians to confuse the mission of saving people created in the image of God with the call to save holiday values propagated more by Hallmark than Scripture.
The marketplace is a mission field
The apostle Paul loved to use the marketplace as a location to witness for Jesus — so much so that his companion Luke wrote in Acts 17:17 that Paul reasoned in the marketplace every day while in Athens.
Paul’s missionary practice stands in stark contrast to modern-day believers who boast about avoiding crowds in the marketplace. Paul, like Jesus, didn’t see large crowds of people as something to dodge; he saw them as a chance to gather around lost people who needed saving.
Here are some practical ways your church, small group or members can treat the marketplace as a mission field this holiday season:
Adopt a store
As a former store manager who worked in retail for 16 years, I can testify Black Friday is a gratifying but exhausting day for retail employees. I gave up turkey and dressing for many years to scarf down a PB&J sandwich while putting together displays for my customers.
I didn’t do this because I hated Thanksgiving and family. I did it because it was my job and I wanted to love my customers by serving them like Jesus by creating the best shopping experience possible.
The manager at your local big box store is most likely just a family man or woman trying to do his or her job with excellence — someone who could use encouragement during their most demanding time of the year.
Want to really bless folks in your local community this season? Call up a store this week and ask the manager if you can bring their employees cookies or snacks to put in their break room on Black Friday or on other high-traffic selling days of the Christmas season.
Sponsor a store this Christmas by writing cards to the employees, thanking them for their service to the community. If you have the means to do so, have your church provide small gifts — church mugs filled with candy or $5 gift cards — for the employees of smaller stores. Let them know you’re praying for them and actually set aside time to do so.
When employees who live and breathe the mantra “the customer is always right” see strangers going out of their way to remember them during this busy season, it makes a memorable impression that could very well pave the way for a gospel conversation or a future visit to your church.
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Source: Baptist Press