Isaiah’s messianic prophecy foresaw a time when all God’s creatures would get along together: “The wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat, the calf and the lion and the yearling together” (Isaiah 11:6). Kevin McAfee wants to know why we can’t see more of this kind of God-ordained cooperation right now. “The faith-based marketplace is growing, and its buying power is the largest in the world, representing trillions of dollars,” he says. “We’re just not working together to serve it.”
Retailers of all kinds are facing unprecedented challenges, as online shopping disrupts traditional markets. In addition to these external threats, the Christian retail establishment struggles with self-inflicted wounds and an inability to work together for the common good.
“We’re the most dysfunctional group of people I have ever seen,” says McAfee, a partner in Content Road Media Corporation, a company that’s partnering with CBA to create unique product offerings for Christian retailers that won’t be undersold by Amazon or Walmart. “We don’t communicate. We’re too busy operating our kingdoms to sit down, stop worrying, and start trading together.”
McAfee and Content Road founder and CEO Eddie Roush are doing everything they can to change these patterns. “We’re working with content creators, we’re meeting with suppliers, we’re meeting with everybody,” he says. “The cry and mantra of Content Road is that we need to unify and get behind Christian Retail Only (CROnly). We want to help retailers win, and if retailers win, the entire industry wins.”
McAfee has worked in and around Christian retail for decades. He’s the former CEO of Every Tribe Entertainment, where he produced the films End of the Spear and Beyond the Gates of Splendor. Both explored the work of Jim Elliot and other missionaries who were were killed in the Amazon jungle. Later, the murdered men’s family members returned to minister to and convert the tribe that killed their loved ones.
In the 1990s, CBA President Bill Anderson hired McAfee to conduct studies and devise growth strategies for the Christian music and publishing industries. He’s also the producer/director of The Samaritan, a documentary based on the challenges Roush encountered in helping a Christian family in Romania escape the spiritual restrictions imposed on people in communist countries.
GR Productions, McAfee’s Nashville-based film company, created the film, which is currently making its way around the film festival circuit. Content Road will offer it exclusively to CBA retailers sometime in 2017 as part of its partnership with CBA.
ENVISIONING A BETTER FUTURE
Like Isaiah, McAfee has been doing some prophesying of his own. In his vision, it’s not lions and lambs that lie down together but diverse members from all aspects of the Christian media and retailing industries who will devote as much energy to cooperation as they do to competition. “The future of Christian retail doesn’t look like it does today,” he says. “It has to evolve.”
In his vision of a better possible retail future, McAfee sees content creators cooperating with publishers, distributors and Christian retailers to expand distribution and reach. “Our rallying cry to the industry is clear. We need each other, so let’s all work together. Let’s not compromise by getting greedy on pricing, but work together for mutual benefit.”