Christian Resources Together Retailers and Suppliers Retreat: A Bookseller’s Perspective

I invited Joy McIlroy of Ashburnham Books to give us a bookseller’s perspective on this week’s Retailers and Suppliers Retreat. Appalling jokes, amazing speakers, phenomenal artists, friendships made and renewed, hope, inspiration and a sense of family: this was clearly the Christian book trade at its best — Joy writes:

As it turned 11am on Tuesday 4th May 2010, some 180 retailers, publishers, distributors, authors and artists began to gather for the Christian Resources Together Retailers and Suppliers Retreat at the beautiful High Leigh conference centre. It became apparent VERY quickly that there was a buzz and an energy about the place that had been seriously lacking in our industry in recent months. Those flogging their ‘wares’ had already set up their booths with products (and some sweeties), although for most retailers just the opportunity to put a few faces to names and feedback some ideas was a brilliant opportunity.

It is hard to summarise what exactly made the event so good. The very obvious hard work and dedication of the team who put it together was crucial to its success. They did a fantastic job of hosting the event, making everyone feel instantly secure with a mixture of clear instruction, full programme and quite appalling jokes at times!

We were spoiled with some amazing speakers and phenomenal artists. Cathy Burton brought her blend of sensitive worship leading and beautifully crafted lyrics in her own songs to inspire and refresh the soul. The following day we were blessed with the more raw and raspy stylings of Marc James leading us into the presence of God. As for speakers, when I mention the names Joel Edwards, Rico Tice and Eric Delve you would be forgiven for nodding your head in profound understanding of quite what quality, passion, fire and insight we were presented with. It is probably unsurprising that all being published authors they were quick to encourage us that what we do in our industry is of utmost importance to the kingdom, but through their words and encouragement they spoke the heart of God into what has become quite a dry, barren industry.

It’s fair to say that fellowship was not a struggle. As my colleague shared with me on the way home, the trick was actually finding time to be on your own, there was always someone to talk to. There were many long, old friendships that were being rekindled and deepened, alongside brand new ones as people mingled and chatted. Even with all that has taken place in the last year or so, I experienced very little grumbling! Everyone was so hopeful and excited. Conversation flowed freely and inspiration was abundant. One of the most inspirational things for me to observe was the interaction between the publishers. Healthy competition was evident but also there was a real sense of family amongst them.

Other elements of the retreat included… an early morning prayer time which was located in the creative prayer room; a series of workshops eloquently presented and facilitated to encourage lively debate and a free flow of idea; the awards dinner where the best in our business were celebrated and rewarded; professional, fun and entertaining presentations from several publishers; and the good food and service from the High Leigh staff.

As people began to (reluctantly) depart from the event the feelings being expressed were overwhelmingly positive. Many came into the event feeling weary, disillusioned, fearful, confused. But people left feeling refreshed, enthused, inspired, and hopeful. We all knew in our heads that we needed to be stronger together, but on leaving I believe we now truly know in our hearts how to do it. God’s presence was tangible as we shared and prayed together.

“He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers.” Psalm 1 v.3

It is NOT over.

Next: A Publisher’s Perspective: watch this space…

8 thoughts on “Christian Resources Together Retailers and Suppliers Retreat: A Bookseller’s Perspective

  1. After what has seemed to be turmoil and confusion within the Christian book trade it was wonderful to meet up together and share fellowship together. It was good to be reminded by Rico Tice that we are here to serve the Lord Jesus Christ as we make known the gospel of salvation. It was good to see publishers, suppliers and book sellers freely talking and sharing fellowship with each other – no competition just fellowship in Jesus Christ. Being together in one place at High Leigh made this booksellers conference. Fellowship shared over the meals was essential, making new friends in Christ and understanding how other book shops are fairing.
    The highlight for us was meeting together for prayer at 7am – we should have more times for prayer and make it a focal point of the time together, praising God, thanking Him and beseeching His throne of grace for our ministry.
    Looking forward to next year..!!

  2. What a fantastic time at High Leigh. I didn’t really know quite what to expect, but it was all wonderful. So many great people to meet and talk to, inspiring talks and seminars – I’ve come back to process it all now. Was it really only just over 24 hours? – it felt more like 3 days!
    I knew hardly anyone when I arrived, but that didn’t matter – it was so easy to share with everyone, and just such a real breathe of fresh air. I’ve come back re-envisioned.

    Many, mnay thanks to all the organisers. Can’t wait for next year!

  3. My first experience of a Christian resource retreat and I thought it was great. I was surprised at the sense of expectantance and faith within the publishing and retail sectors both elements which have been challenged to the full over recent years. I really sensed us moving into a new season and a hope arised within me that ‘Spring has sprung in Christian resourcing!’

    God is doing a new thing. The mighty oak of STL has fallen but God is doing a new thing within Christian resourcing. It is time to move on. It is time for healing, forgiveness and putting right what was wrong. God is raising up new tender shoots that will display His splendour through publishing and on the high streets. God is raising up new fruitful trees that will feed the church and gather under its branches the broken and lost.
    Sorry if we didn’t see you at High Leigh Christian Resource Together it was a great time of refreshing and encouragement together. Please circle it in your diaries next year. We really are stronger together and weaker apart!!
    God bless mark

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