Consider the scale of the evangelical industrial complex that survives by perpetuating this system. The Christian Booksellers Association, representing 1,700 Christian stores, sells $4.63 billion worth of merchandise a year. And that doesn’t count retailers like Amazon and Walmart. Some estimate the total evangelical market to be over $7 billion a year. Evangelicalism is a very, very large business…that’s why I call it an industrial complex.That is a pretty huge number, a number I contribute to on a regular basis. Is that healthy, especially when you think about all that goes into the Christian book publication and its symbiotic relationship with the Christian conference system? Without knowing this for certain, I would suspect that a relatively small number of authors make up an enormous percentage of that seven billion dollar figure. While it is easy for me to point at authors like Max Lucado who seem to churn out a new book weekly, there are favorite authors of mine who likewise are pumping out new books almost as fast.
I am not concerned with books per se but I am very concerned with the hold that money has on the church. Huge sums of money pass through various channels in the church: local churches, clergy, books, conferences, music, bureaucracies, charities, etc. It is unthinkable that having billions upon billions in circulation doesn't have a serious and often detrimental impact on the way we relate to one another and how we think about finances and possessions. I really think that money needs to be less of a factor in the church but that is going to require a really radical change in some of our most deeply held beliefs.