One million dollar gift enables member retailers to make change happen at UNITE 2018.

Some of the most defining moments in history have centered around the battles of change. From every region of the world, people have fought for the land and liberties they valued most. Historians often cite revolution as the turning point in every civilization throughout time.

The Bible details many epic battles, from the story in the book of Exodus of Jewish people fleeing Egypt to the tale of the Hebrews taking the city of Jericho.

The Bible documents the victories of God’s people and some of the battles where they did not emerge victorious. Sometimes Israel won. Sometimes it was the Philistines.

Who won the battles and why they were fought is important in our understanding of our history as Christians and how we view the context of conflict.

As is so often the case, lack of knowledge limits our ability to understand things in proper context. God empowered David with a slingshot and a single stone (four remaining in his pocket because Goliath had four brothers). The battle of Jericho was not a victory that was mathematically impossible. The battles of biblical times have become the stories of Sunday sermons but rarely the road map of how we view conflict.

As believers we are often so concerned at even the appearance of creating conflict that we resolve to be silent, to be concerned but only marginally invested, and to have, as the adage says, “very little skin in the game.”

But what would happen if we understood conflict in the context of righteous battles? If we borrowed a lesson from the many battles of King David, would we have a different understanding of conflict?

The Christian retail industry has been in a battle for “territory” for more than a decade. The war has taken a heavy toll on retailers weary of the fight to hold off the impeding army of online and big-box stores.

Some storeowners weary from the struggle are now questioning if the battle is even winable. After losing so much of their market share to others who have pulled their customer base away, is it simply time to accept defeat?

They reason that like 8-track cassettes or rotary phones, others now reside in what was once “their land.” Years of being hammered by a technology-rich marketplace without many of the tools or money to compete have taken their toll. Most retailers are weary of the discouraging dance of “hold on if you can.”

There are some industry thought leaders that believe the battle isn’t lost. In fact, some argue the real fight is just beginning. A new battle plan is required—a new mindset that embraces change in order to win the war and accepts that some conflict is an inevitable part of winning any battle.

War stories and declarations of conflict are not the popular feel-good messages in the industry. Change can look like a “troublemaker.” And some readers may surmise that trade publications are intended to gingerly inform, provided no one’s feelings are hurt or any offense can be taken. These are of the “let’s win the war as cheerleaders not the sweaty tough guy willing to throw himself at the other team in hopes of gaining even a foot or two”-type mindset.

Some reason life is full of enough negative things and conflict that a trade publication is not be the right place to draw battle lines. The industry has given up most of the field to the opposing “team,” but some in the industry stand by the “go team go!” shout-out approach, not the messier version of “get back in the huddle and figure out a different way to win.”

If analogies of war and sports sound like the desperate cries of a trade publication that’s declared war on the status quo, that would be accurate.

To spend time extolling the honor roll list of all those who’ve been in the battle while the enemy bears down is not the mindset of a warrior.

Let’s give each other pats on the back and high-fives when we break through; when we’ve taken back lost ground. When foot traffic improves and sales surge, then let’s do a victory lap. But to get lost in the weeds of “hurt feelings and taking offense” now threatens the necessity of immediate action. Listening to the cries of offended industry insiders dims the urgency for change. If the requirement to get along is greater than our desire to collectively succeed, then we are genuinely working in vain.

But the reality is that the call on every faith-based retailer is greater than the hurt feelings of the few. It’s a critical time for our industry—a time to embrace God’s ability to empower His people and to slay the giant with a battle-ready mindset and the tools to win.

Some of the most quoted words of battle come from the Spartans—the small group of men who are known to have fought valiantly in the face of impossible odds. History notes a conversation between a warrior from the Spartan army and Dienekes, one of the most trusted Spartan generals, about the impending battle with the Egyptians. The warrior explains to Dienekes that the Egyptian army is so vast in number that their archers will block out the sun. Dienekes responds telling the warrior, “That’s good news. I will tell my men that today instead of fighting in the hot sun, they will fight in the shade.” (The movie 300 depicts this exchange inaccurately with a Persian solider speaking to Dienekes.)

Winning a battle of territory, either land or market share, requires a warrior mindset. (Sparta did not fall due to the enormity of their enemy, but because of a traitor.)

We owe it to the health of our industry to close ranks around only those ideas, programs, and products that work and formulate a battle plan that begins with understanding of what’s available and what new tools exist that can help take back what’s been lost. We now face a time when the opportunity to win increases because of the sheer tools with which to do so; tools that for obvious reasons have been financially off limits to most retailers. The battle to win is fought on a slippery slope, when there’s not enough money to compete with those that threaten this market space.

All that changes at UNITE 2018! Mem-ber retailers will leave UNITE with customized data that can be used to drive customers to their stores—not a complicated pile of graphs and charts but specific insight to win back customers and create a bigger, stronger customer base. Member retailers can sit down one-on-one with industry experts to set up their social media accounts or learn a few steps of how to maximize their current efforts. This is not a how-to workbook of antiquated ideas, but links to videos they can post before they leave UNITE.

And member retailers don’t have to budget money they don’t have to come to convention. In an unprecedented gift to the industry, Edward Roush, chairman of The Roush Foundation, is reimbursing member retailers for their hotel and food expenses up to $1,000.*

Current sales figures prove the urgency for change. A million-dollar gift to the Christian retail industry now enables member retailers to make change happen.

God’s commandment to His people was to go to all the world. Christian retail helps fulfill that extraordinary calling. It’s something worth fighting for, taking back what’s been lost until all have heard.

To register for UNITE 2018 July 8-11 at the Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center in Nashville, Tennessee, go to CBAUnite.com.

*Some conditions apply