Article by Jim Fletcher
News came this week that Family Christian Stores is finally shuttering all
240 locations. The 85-year-old chain filed for bankruptcy protection in
2015, and now the end has come for the Christian retail giant that employed
3,000 and stretched across 36 states.
As one writer put it, Amazon warlord Jeff Bezos deserves much of the credit
for turning most independent bookstores into karate schools or bakeries. But
there is another, more specific reason Family Christian Stores is gone.
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.
And the "Jesus Calling" version of "Jesus" ain't Him.
The erosion of Christian retail began before my entrance into the publishing
industry in 1993, but that decade saw the worst kind of compromise with
error in the Church. If one looks at the top 50 bestsellers from CBA (the
Association for Christian Retail) currently, a Bible-believer couldn't
recommend more than a handful, at most. Family Christian Stores stocked them
Whereas CBA 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 gourged itself on heretical books and
other materials.
The demise of Christian retail and, by extension in my view, the majority of
the Evangelical church in this country, came about from a tightly
coordinated effort. This ranged from celebrity pastors and ministry heads to
publishers and, yes, Christian retail.
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.
Celebrity pastors don't need no stinking Family Christian Retail. They have
myriad platforms to rake in the cash.
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."
That's just the tip of the iceberg that has rendered the Evangelical
community just another glitzy, over-confident Titanic.
Family Christian Stores made a conscious decision years ago to make cash the
only real priority. No vetting of books being peddled by publishers and
salesmen who were, in some cases, more pagan than Baal. Anything labeling
itself "Christian" was allowed in the door, more enthusiastically if the
book sold like hotcakes as we used to say.
The vast majority of evangelicals today, whether in the pews or in Christian
retail, have no interest in a lecture by the likes of me. So the pollution
of the Evangelical waterways will no doubt continue.
I watched the progressions over the years. At one time, Baker Books promoted
heavily the works of people like the creationist scholar Henry Morris (the
house still publishes "The Genesis Record"), but only a few years ago found
itself in the quicksand of a new imprint, Emergent Village. There, one could
find (and still can) books by progressive radicals like Doug Pagitt and Tony
Jones ("The Emergent Manifesto").
A few years ago, Jones - who at one time taught at Fuller - announced that
he no longer believes in Original Sin.
Why in the world would Christian retail promote such a person?
Christian Retail has no one else to blame. The sad case of Family Christian
Stores is but one (gigantic) example of what happens when a Christian entity
doesn't guard its heart.
I sometimes say "no one cares" when I point these things out. A few readers
rightly complain that that isn't technically true. Of course I am aware
some/many(?) do care, and deeply. But my point is in general, American
evangelicals are simply annoyed by columns like this, because they are
Well, poison in the bloodstream (just try and count all my metaphors in this
piece!) is definitely negative. The messenger is not actually negative, you
see, and that's an important distinction. Because if you can avoid the trap
of believing the messenger carrying this sad news is negative, you can begin
to see the real culprits.
It is a sign of our times that when I tell audiences or readers that their
best Christian resources are a Bible, pen and notebook, I hear laughter from
the audience. It sounds funny, I guess. But it is also the truth. If the
American Christian community would study the Bible, pray, and make real
disciples, there would be a thriving Christian bookstore on every street
Ironic, isn't it?
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Jim Fletcher
Posted with permission from WND


  1. Amen! I found it extremely disturbing, that when you walk into those "Christian" Book stores the first thing you ran into was Catholic Garbage. They sold every form of religion. Now you have to ask yourself, how can this be? One word. Profit. That's right folks. Jesus is for sale. 😡 I'm glad that the Lord was kind enough to wake me up. Thank you, Jesus.


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