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 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. 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.
That, beloved reader, means your hands and mine: the Bishop has issued a challenge to the churches. Now it’s our turn: carpe diem! Why not contact your diocesan or area bishop and invite him to the shop to discover first hand what you can offer to the churches under his wing? Tell him you’ve just read the Bishop of Oxford’s article (links below) and you’re keen to follow up on the ideas he’s put forward. Offer to hold an Open Day for local clergy! Offer a regular book review column for church magazines and websites! Liaise with publishers and suppliers to ensure that you’ve got see-safe supply then send someone in to freshen up those dire bookstalls the Bishop of Oxford describes. The opportunities are endless — and God has placed them in our hands.
Read the full article: