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New Book is a warning for Christian Bookstore Managers

I always complain when a new box of Baker samples arrives for my staff that there is very little in non-fiction titles. This time around there was only one, but it’s a book that should be required reading for bookstore staff, owners and managers.  If you feel that your primary market is Evangelicals and your primary products are for Evangelicals, you need to know which way statistics for this group are trending, particularly if you live in an area where there are some large churches that appear to be growing in leaps and bounds. The overall growth in your city or county may be illusory.

The Great Evangelical RecessionThe Great Evangelical Recession by reporter-turned-pastor John S. Dickerson describes the challenges that the Evangelical church faces over the next few years. It’s a message that we’ve been hearing in Canada recently through the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada’s Hemorrhaging Faith report, which I covered in this article; and also a recent Pew Research Forum report which I discussed here

The full title is The Great Evangelical Recession: 6 Factors that will Crash the American Church…and How to Prepare. It’s possible that the American reference in the title drove my fellow-Canadian retailers away from considering this title — it released back in January — but I am now convinced it is must reading for pastors in your area who are concerned with church growth as well as the issue of the voice Evangelicals have in the wider society.

The book has twelve chapters, six deal with isolating the particular challenges faced by Evangelicals, and six offer hope and direction. In the first six, of particular concern to us as bookstore owners are (a) the fact the numbers of Evangelicals in the U.S. are being greatly inflated and (b) the fact that the generosity of each successive generation of ‘givers’ is rapidly declining, affecting the financial health of local churches.

The second point is critical to our industry. If local churches are cutting staff and budgets, that should be a red flag for us that discretionary spending for the type of resources we sell are also being affected, and also that being able to offer competitive pricing becomes more critical. The statistics in this section alone are staggering. For an industry already reeling from various changes, this is not a good news report.

I’ll have a more consumer focused review of this book at Thinking Out Loud later this week.

Publisher marketing:

Warning of an impending evangelical crisis, third-generation pastor and award-winning journalist combines quality research, heartfelt hope, and practical application for the purpose of igniting the church toward a better future.

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