Can a business earn a fair profit and also take good care of its employees? Or put another way, can a modern cost-saving retail store improve on the WalMart philosophy made so popular throughout America? Apparently the answer, according to the New York Times, is "yes."

A recent article notes that Costco is doing exactly that. Making a good profit but sharing some of the profits with the workers and in the process doing the right thing for more than just their investors. The Times writes:

"Costco’s average pay is $17 an hour, 42 percent higher than its fiercest rival, Sam’s Club. And Costco’s health plan makes those at many other retailers look Scroogish. One analyst, Bill Dreher of Deutsche Bank, complained last year that at Costco ‘it’s better to be an employee or a customer than a shareholder.’ . . . Mr. Sinegal (Costco), whose father was a coal miner and steelworker, gave a simple explanation. ‘On Wall Street, they’re in the business of making money between now and next Thursday . . . we can’t take that view. We want to build a company that will still be here 50 and 60 years from now.’"

That’s a pretty good business philosophy if you ask me. I suggest churches are faced with a similar question in the modern business environment of America: "Are we going to build WalMart or a Costco churches?" I believe the view that you take of what you will be like in 50 or 60 years is crucial to what you will do in the present.

I plan to shop even more at Costco in the years ahead. I also plan to encourage the large churches that I know to take the Costco approach to growing a congregation. I’ve seen too much of the WalMart variety and it makes me spiritually sick.