The vital ministry of the parish bookstore

Does your church have a bookstore? Ours does, where we sell books, prayer beads, baptism gifts, cards and more. Carrie Graves, president of the Episcopal Booksellers Association, writes about why that’s important, even if the enterprise is not a money maker:

Often, church bookstores are “not profitable.” Despite many perks provided by the supporting church, the costs associated with selling books and gifts are high, and it’s hard to meet the bottom line, especially … without high traffic volume. Almost all church bookstore managers I am acquainted with live this scenario. They tell stories of the money people and the ministry people on their vestries and committees. The money people usually want to close the unprofitable store and the ministry people see it as a rich service of education and hospitality.

I see church bookstores as one of the “most profitable” areas in a thriving church. A good bookstore is a sign of a vibrant, engaged and thoughtful church community. It is a place where outsiders are always welcome and seekers can always find something to enrich or inspire them on their journeys. Gift givers can find symbols of love to give to those who are celebrating or hurting.

Read full column here. If your church has a bookstore, how does your parish make the most of that ministry?

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