Thursday, February 10, 2011

A Church Bookstall: Why?

One of the jobs I inherited when I joined my current church was to manage the church bookstall. After nearly two years in the business, I thought it might be useful to consider just why a church bookstall can be useful - then tomorrow we'll think about how to do it.

The Church Bookstall

So here are some good reasons to have a bookstall in your church:

1. It encourages people to read. There's no doubt that reading in general, and perhaps in particular among Christians, is in decline. Having a supply of good Christian books will encourage people to pick up a book and read.

2. It's convenient. People are getting busier, so free time for browsing and shopping for books is squeezed out. If they're going to be at church anyway, then it's a great opportunity for them to pause at the bookstall as they chat before or after the service.

3. It supports Christian publishers and bookshops. Our bookstall is maintained through a local Christian bookshop, so whatever we sell helps to support their work and ministry too.

4. It can tie in to your preaching. Say you're preaching a series on Sundays and a particular issue comes up. You might have twenty minutes in one sermon to deal with it. There's never enough time to go in-depth or discuss it fully. It can be helpful to point people to additional resources or books which explore the issue, which people can pick up and read if they want to go further. This may be useful if you have several books, one of which may be 'lighter' and another 'heavier' so readers have a choice.

5. It can promote good new books. Sometimes new books can take time to enter the awareness of ordinary Christians, but if you're running a bookstall and getting special offers on new books, it can be a good way to help promote and recommend new books.

6. It can be a strategic ministry. The bookstall can be a way of helping people and pastoring them in a low-key way. By flagging up books, you can be preparing the congregation for the future.

7. It can be evangelistic. By having a few well chosen evangelistic and apologetic resources, the bookstall can also help people explore Christianity or find answers to hard questions without having to embarrass yourself by asking someone!

8. It will lead to growth. This is the aim of the bookstall, after all. We don't just want people to be reading in order to know more stuff, but in order to grow in godliness and maturity. It's not even about the money - sometimes it may be productive to operate at a loss if it ensures people are reading and growing. As we seek growth, the bookstall naturally fits into the overall aim of the church. So why wouldn't you have a bookstall?

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