Posts Tagged ‘church’

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

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.

Adam Hamilton – Appearing at Willow Leadership Summit

The Willow Creek Leadership Summit happens this week in Chicago and live by satellite in hundreds of locations.   This event is a catalyst for creating interest in authors and titles you may not have carried before.

One of these is Adam Hamilton, author of When Christians Get it Wrong (Abingdon) and senior pastor of the 17,000 member United Methodist Church of the Resurrection in Leawood, Kansas. It is the largest United Methodist congregation in the United States, measured by weekend attendance.

Publisher marketing:

When young adults talk about the problems they have with Christianity and the church, they name attitudes and behaviors: judging others, condemning people of other faiths, rejecting science, injecting politics into faith, and being anti-homosexual. Adam Hamilton tackles these issues and addresses Christians getting it right when it comes to being Christ in the world. Gain a different way of understanding the issues that keep people away from Christianity and keep Christians from living a more compelling faith. Because if we don’t start getting it right, we may lose an entire generation.

To learn more about other speakers at the Willow Summit, click here and use the pull-down menu under ‘speakers.’

NOTE:  If you’d like to watch a longer version of this interview, click here.  It runs about 10 minutes.   If you’d like to include a dynamic book trailer for this in your store’s YouTube playlist, preview it here.

TO LEARN MORE:  Check out my piece on Adam Hamilton at Thinking Out Loud.

When Faith is Reduced to Consumer Choices

Zondervan author of The Divine Conspiracy Skye Jethani guest-posted at The Huffington Post yesterday.   While he didn’t truly take a shot at Christian publishing — that would be biting the hand that feeds him, after all — he didn’t mind taking a shot at Christian retail.

I did like his premise,

If brands have become religions, is the opposite also true? Have religions been reduced to brands?

But then felt he fell short of goals in terms of where he took that:

Researchers like Barna, Gallop, and others are finding it increasingly difficult to differentiate the behaviors and values of self-identified Christians from non-Christians with one exception: what they buy. Total sales of religious goods in America is nearly $7 billion annually. That is a whole lot of “Tommy Hellfighter” t-shirts, “Jesus Is My Homeboy” underwear, and “Fruit of the Spirit” energy drinks. One church leader has linked the merchandising with our new understanding of conversion: “Conversion in the U.S. seems to mean we’ve exchanged some of our shopping at Wal-Mart, Blockbuster, and Borders for the Christian Bookstore down the street. We’ve taken our lack of purchasing control to God’s store, where we buy our office supplies in Jesus’ name.”

What does this mean for the future of the church in America? I hear a lot on Christian radio and see a lot of Christian books fighting against postmodernism, relativism, and secularism. But if people, including Christians, are constructing their identities and lives around consumer brands like Apple, is the church fighting the wrong battle? And perhaps more disturbing, are we unknowingly contributing to the problem by encouraging Christians to construct and express their identities via Christ-branded merchandise rather than through characters transformed to reflect the values of Christ himself?

link here for full article

He could have just as easily looked at the “branding” that is the multi-site Church movement.   Or even the still-going-strong “branding” that is denominationalism.    But if “Christ-branded merchandise” is the best he’s got, well, I’m sorry but it just ain’t so.

In fact, I’d be happy to have a local pastor or two who did, in fact, take part in “encouraging Christians to construct and express their identities via Christ-branded merchandise.”   Or at least, a few more books.

Michael Spencer aka The Internet Monk: First and Only Book Releases Posthumously

Nearly ten years ago, in November of 2000, Michael Spencer began blogging as The Internet Monk.   During that time he gained a huge online following, and when he passed away just a few short weeks ago, there was a huge outpouring of sympathy and love online.

Sadly, he never lived to see the publication of his first book, Mere Churchianity, being published by Multnomah.   I just finished reading the first chapter, “The Dairy Queen Incident,” and I think that Michael’s message is about to reach an entirely new set of readers.   Make sure you have copies on order.   (In Canada: Waterbrook/Multnomah is distributed to CBA trade by Augsburg-Fortress.)

…This is not a Christian book in the time-honored tradition. I’m not going to tell Christians to be nicer, care more, help other people, be generous, try to
forgive, do more for God, and so on, so that we can be better witnesses for Jesus.

I have good reasons for staying off the standard Christian-book path. It was churchianity—the “do more, be better, look good for God’s sake” variety—that turned me and my youth group into a room full of jerks.

So if you’re a Christian, by all means read this book.  You will find an approach to following Jesus that doesn’t ask you to do more while pretending to be righteous. I think you’ll like it.

But I’m not writing to church members who are happy where they’re at or to Christians who are heavily invested in the success and propagation of the church as an organization. I’m writing instead to those who
may still be associated with the church but no longer buy into much of what the church says. Not because they doubt the reality of God, but because they doubt that the church is really representing Jesus.

If you have customers who peruse Christian blogs, they will already be anticipating the release of this book.   You can send them to this blog post at iMonk to catch a first chapter download, but since most of us are bookstore buyers, I hope that neither the blog nor the publisher will mind me posting the link button here for us industry types.   Just click the image.