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Anglican Bishop Affirms Christian Book Stores

As reported by Phil Groom in the U.K. Christian Bookshops Blog, an Anglican bishop has given a major boost to Christian retail outlets:

WRITING IN THE CHURCH TIMES last Friday, 10 Sept 2010, the Rt Revd John Pritchard, Bishop of Oxford, has issued a challenge to churches to wake up to the importance of reading Christian books and supporting Christian bookshops.

Acknowledging the inevitability of change with the growth of online sales, the Bishop nonetheless remains convinced that bookshops have a part to play in the church’s strategic thinking:

The disappearance of Christian books from the High Street [i.e. Main Street] makes them seem esoteric and cult-like. We want people to select from a range of available titles, not just go online to buy the one that has got through to popular consciousness. We want people to browse, explore, and be attracted to alternative titles.

What, then, is the answer? Reading champions:

The key, of course, is finding someone, or preferably a team of people, with real enthusiasm to lead this ministry of reading, with permission to badger the incumbent. [i.e. the current pastor.  Translation: the Bishop is sanctioning those involved to do whatever it takes to encourage the local rector or pastor to bring this ministry to the forefront.] They could keep up with reviews of new books through websites such as www.thegoodbookstall.org.uk.

They could also encourage us to buy from Christian bookshops rather than online, and give us a lead in praying for those shops and their unobtrusive ministry. They could be reading champions for an increasingly literate Church. As so often, under God, the answer lies in our hands.

Here in North America, one manifestation that might work well is “twinning” the church with the nearest Christian bookstore in the community, just as many churches are “twinned” with congregations in the third world.

Years ago, in a church my wife and I attended, every fourth Sunday, in the time normally devoted to a soloist doing “special music” there would be a book review of a recent Christian release.  About half of the books were in the Church library, but half were not.

Certainly raising the local store as a prayer concern is something that is easily accomplished.

However, some store owners or managers are reluctant to ask local congregations for prayer. That needs to change. Our stores should be regularly on the prayer lists of like-minded local churches.

  • The full Church Times story is only available to subscribers.
  • Emphasis in first quotation added.
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