Money vs. Ministry

Gary Mitchell

Michael Covington, general manager of The Master’s — A Parable Christian Store, sees the store’s upcoming move into the new “Master’s Center” business complex as an enhancement of its mission.
The Christian bookstore and a travel agency, National Travel Systems, will be among businesses relocating to the former Furr’s grocery store, a 55,000 square-foot building located at 21st and Prince Streets.
Local business leaders Sid Strebeck and David Petty, along with agribusiness leaders Kent and Stan Ware, purchased the building in January to develop into a business complex dubbed the “Master’s Center.”
“It dovetails with our mission statement — to provide Christ-centered product in a Christ-honoring atmosphere with Christ-like service,” Covington said. “In the New Testament, the apostles would preach the Gospel in the center of town. We consider this new location at 21st and Prince to be the center of town. It’ll be a fun place for anyone to come here. It’s a neat outreach tool. We’re excited about it.”
“We plan to have a mall-type corridor with common areas for people to shop and visit,” Petty said. “One-half of the building will house The Master’s, the National Travel Systems office and other local businesses. The other half of the building will be a major client. We’re also planning a food place to go in there, and a coffee shop.”
The Master’s, now located at 2404 N. Prince St., is planning to move into the renovated building within a month, Covington said.
“We’re excited about what the Lord is going to do,” he said. “Our desire is to minister to the people in this area. We want to make it a fun place for families with clean entertainment. We want the community — both churched and unchurched — to feel welcome here. We want to offer Clovis something it doesn’t have — to experience God in a tangible way.”
Some critics of Christian or faith-based businesses say those retailers — and even ministers or churches — are in business to make money by appealing to people’s religious or spiritual instincts.
“Every good Christian bookseller has asked this question — Is what I’m doing tantamount to being a moneychanger in the Temple (that drew the wrath of Christ)?” Covington said. “It costs money to make the products, and our margins here are tremendously slim. Our heart is ministry.
“When people say, ‘You’re playing on spirituality to make money,’ that’s judging, and only God can judge,” he said. “We’re here to equip the body of Christ for the work of ministry. Our motive is ministry, but our method is retail. Our goal is not the bottom line, but we have to watch the bottom line — or there won’t be any ministry.”
Covington turned the question around, citing priorities.
“We don’t have a problem with people selling booze or pornography or tobacco products, but we have a problem with people selling a ministry product,” he said. “Our consciences are perfectly clear.”