Christian Retailing

NEWS Industry News
Industry News
Christian book industry addresses ‘gay Christian’ controversy PDF Print E-mail
Written by Ken Walker   
Wednesday, 03 September 2014 09:34 AM EDT

CBA retailers, publishers consider how grace and truth apply today in midst of escalating issue of homosexuality

Baker Book House has hosted discussions at its community forums on such controversial topics as author Rob Bell’s views on heaven and hell, the theology of William P. Young’s novel The Shack and the doctrines of Calvinism. But it wasn’t until its exploration of homosexuality in mid-August that the Grand Rapids, Michigan, store ran out of room for guests and was compelled to add a live webcam telecast.

Manager Sue Smith said these annual discussions allow the church a safe place to freely discuss current issues.

“I’ve had a lot of feedback, good and bad,” Smith said. “A few people said it was a gutsy move. I did get a few comments from customers who thought I was jumping on the pro-gay bandwagon.”

Some objected to the homosexual identity of both speakers. Wesley Hill is a professor at Trinity School for Ministry and the author of Washed and Waiting (Zondervan, 2010). Justin Lee is executive director of the Gay Christian Network and author of Torn, published last year by Hachette Book Group imprint, Jericho Books.

However, Smith said, the purpose of the forum was not to debate biblical views of homosexuality, but to help the church and the gay community to learn to listen to each other and still act in loving ways.

“How do we do that when we can’t even sit for a civil discussion because we are more concerned with who is ‘right’ and who is ‘wrong?’ ” Smith asked.

However, many in the Christian-products industry feel perspective makes all the difference when it comes to homosexuality.

The weekend after Baker’s forum, Creation House author and ex-gay Janet Boynes led her second Called Out conference at Charisma Media’s offices in Lake Mary, Florida.

“It’s not enough to share the truth,” Boynes said. “We also need to walk alongside those who have a desire to walk out of this life. We need to offer the tools and resources they need.”

One Christian retailer who refuses to stock any of the increasing number of titles with a pro-homosexual or more accommodating stance finds it sad that Americans seem to rationalize the matter.

“This twisting of the gender roles has been sickening to watch,” said Donna Baker of Dightman’s Bible Book Center in Tacoma, Washington. “Our store is a nondenominational store, and we do stock books which have different viewpoints, but I draw the line on things that clearly are not biblical.”

Like it or not, Christian store owners are about to face more controversy.

This year has seen the release of such pro-gay books as God and the Gay Christian by Matthew Vines (Convergent), The Bible’s YES to Same-Sex Marriage by Mark Achtemier (Westminster John Knox Press); and A Letter to My Congregation by Ken Wilson (David Crumm Media).

This month, Howard Books releases Facing the Music, the memoir of Christian singer Jennifer Knapp. A past Dove Award winner, Knapp revealed her same-sex attraction in 2010 following a seven-year sabbatical from Christian music.

Howard’s publisher, Jonathan Merkh, said the Nashville house isn’t trying to take sides but chose to publish the book because homosexuality has “become an elephant in the sanctuary.”

“We hope that readers will take a moment and put themselves in the shoes of someone walking this path,” Merkh said. “We hope it will help them understand where someone may be coming from as they open up about their sexuality and their faith.”

In May 2015, Baker Publishing Group will release Hill’s next book, Spiritual Friendship, under Brazos Press. This follows the Brazos release last May of Generous Spaciousness by Wendy VanderWal-Gritter.

Brazos’ marketing manager, Bryan Dyer, said both books encourage churches to respond to gays in a loving way.

“Wendy and Wesley are voices of reconciliation,” Dyer said. “Both seek to bring healing and unity to the church. No one questions that how the church responds to its gay and lesbian members and neighbors is of vital importance.”

While some don’t question the need for ministry, they insist on maintaining support for traditional marriage.

Moody Publishers’ October release, Loving My (LGBT) Neighbor by Glenn Stanton of Focus on the Family, embraces this view. However, the author advises avoiding the extremes of uncritical acceptance of gay relationships or hateful exclusion.

“We appreciated Glenn’s ability to courageously and compassionately share his convictions in public debate and his ability to make genuine friendships with folks from a polar-opposite moral perspective,” said Duane Sherman, Moody’s acquisitions editor.

Michael Brown is author of Can You Be Gay and Christian? (FrontLine/Charisma House). In Brown’s “In the Line of Fire” blog for Charisma News, he addressed the topic after Christian singer-songwriter Vicky Beeching said she is gay.

“At any other time in church history, ideas like this would not been countenanced for a split second among committed followers of Jesus who were grounded in the Word,” Brown wrote. “But today, professing Christians are questioning some of the most basic scriptural truths about morality.”

Eric Opferbeck, owner of Life Resources, a Munce Group store in Amherst, New York, said that when a customer recently requested Making Gay Okay by Robert Reilly (Ignatius Press), he insisted on researching the author’s views first.

“We would not special-order a book just to make a sale,” Opferbeck said. “For us, that becomes a bit of a fine line because we try to be an ecumenical store, and there’s a wide range of beliefs. But when it’s in disagreement with Scripture, we can’t do that.” —Ken Walker

Gospel Music Association celebrates 50 years PDF Print E-mail
Written by DeWayne Hamby   
Wednesday, 03 September 2014 09:26 AM EDT

GMA aims to foster community, create cohesion in Christian music industry

GMA-Anniv-Final-1-boldThe Gospel Music Association (GMA) continues as a unifying force for Christian music as the Nashville-based organization celebrates 50 years in 2014.

GMA was founded in 1964 to bring “cohesion” to a diverse industry, said Jackie Patillo, the association’s executive director.
She believes this need still exists today.

“This group of Southern gospel music executives formed the organization because they wanted to centralize the resources and bring some cohesion,” Patillo told Christian Retailing. “They were concerned for the fragmentation of our industry. It’s interesting that 50 years later, we still need that.”

Patillo, who became director three years ago, points to the diversity of Christian music—which encompasses R&B, pop, country, bluegrass, Southern gospel, rap and more—as an example of an industry whose common vision is spreading the gospel of Jesus. She wants to continue to bring more people under the umbrella of the organization, reaching beyond Nashville, which has typically been considered Christian music’s headquarters.

“It’s important to us, we believe, that as a community, we are stronger together, and we represent all different facets and genres,” she said. “And becoming a member of the GMA keeps everyone connected.”

This diversity is best displayed at the GMA’s most popular event, the annual Dove Awards ceremony, which will take place Oct. 7 at Lipscomb University’s Allen Arena in Nashville. Lecrae and Bart Millard (MercyMe) have been placed strategically as Dove Awards hosts to raise awareness of the category’s wide scope of artists.

“It’s the only platform that brings together all types of music,” she said. “To be able to reveal that onstage is our goal.”

The evening will include performances and appearances by artists Matthew West, One Girl Nation, Andy Mineo, Love and the Outcome, Erica Campbell, Hezekiah Walker and Bill Gaither as well as authors Rick Warren and Karen Kingsbury. Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN) is this year’s telecast partner, helping the awards reach a potential 100 million homes in the U.S.

The awards are the best way of honoring what’s happening in Christian music, Patillo said, noting a Scripture verse she found when she first became director.

“The verse [Matt. 5:16, paraphrased] said, ‘Let our lights so shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven,’ ” she said. “That’s as relevant now as it was 45 years [ago in the early days of GMA]. We need to honor the current artists that are making the sacrifices that they make for our families and spreading the gospel through music.”

In an effort to reflect what’s happening in today’s Christian marketplace, a new category for Inspirational Film of the Year was added, with God’s Not Dead, Grace Unplugged, When Calls the Heart, Son of God and Heaven Is for Real as the inaugural nominees.

“God is using faith-based films to reach the world,” Patillo said. “More often than not, those films are including our music.”

At the same time, the organization celebrates what’s happening in today’s Christian entertainment world, it is also charged with honoring the heritage and future of Christian music through events such as GMA Honors, an awards night to honor GMA Hall of Fame inductees, and IMMERSE, a training conference for next-generation talent.

While GMA has been inducting artists and other leaders into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame since 1971, this past April featured the inaugural GMA Honors, this year celebrating the contributions of inductees Brown Bannister, Take 6, Rich Mullins and Gaither Vocal Band.

 “It was a great inaugural event, and it really emphasizes not only the talent and their hearts, [but also] how they’re walking out their faith in practical ways,” Patillo said.

IMMERSE provides training ground for upcoming artists and songwriters. Held in June at the LifeWay campus in Nashville, the event featured author Ed Stetzer, Christian pop artist Jonny Diaz and songwriter and worship leader Jennie Lee Riddle as speakers.

“It’s very pertinent that those of us that are seasoned begin to speak into the next generation,” Patillo said.

IMMERSE has been a success because of the organization’s partnership with LifeWay, which is one of several alliances Patillo said has helped the GMA “stabilize” its events, another being Lipscomb University’s hosting of the GMA Dove Awards.

Beyond the big happenings, GMA also hosts local networking opportunities for industry leaders such as NEXT and Band Wives for wives of men who frequently travel in the industry.

“Ministry and commerce live within our Christian-label agencies and what not, but at some point, we need to know each other not as competitors, but as people,” Patillo said. “We’re trying to encourage community.” —DeWayne Hamby

Dave Thornton named Gospel Light CEO PDF Print E-mail
Written by Christine D. Johnson   
Wednesday, 03 September 2014 09:23 AM EDT

Executive has held variety of roles at several publishers

DaveThorntonGospel Light’s board of directors has named Dave Thornton as the company’s new chief executive officer.

Thornton joined Gospel Light in 2013 as director of church sales and most recently served as director of sales and marketing. He served 17 years at Group Publishing in a variety of roles, from director of product development to director of church leadership and finally director of global innovations. Previously he worked in marketing at David C Cook.

The board and CEO are refocusing the company on the mission given to Gospel Light’s founder, Henrietta C. Mears—to know Christ and make Him known.

“I dream of a day when Gospel Light will be seen as the trusted global leader in providing Christ-connecting, Bible-based, disciple-making resources to help the church reach children and their families for Christ through products and resources that are available anytime and anywhere around the world,” Thornton said.

Board members believe Thornton is the right man to lead the company.

“The Gospel Light board and senior management team are working diligently to reinvent ourselves for the 21st century, so that the new Gospel Light will be positioned to impact the church in the next generation,” said Kathy Rowland, chair of the Gospel Light board. “Our goal is to become the leading publisher of Christ-centered, biblically based Sunday school curriculum, VBS programs and other resources that challenge the next generation of church leaders to know Christ and make Him known. To this end, the board has appointed Dave Thornton as the new CEO.”

Rowland spoke of Thornton’s “proven track record as a CEO” and ability to “coordinate management and staff to create and execute a strategic plan to achieve corporate goals, to cast vision, to build a world-class leadership team and to hold the team accountable to performance objectives.” —Johnson

Author Philip Yancey explores questions of substance PDF Print E-mail
Written by Ann Byle   
Wednesday, 03 September 2014 09:06 AM EDT

Writer and fellow pilgrim provides Christian retailers with books on subjects that meet customer needs

PhilipYancey-PortraitWhen Philip Yancey writes a new book, his publisher and his fans gear up for the excitement. Yancey’s latest is Vanishing Grace: What Ever Happened to the Good News?, releasing this month from Zondervan.

Vanishing Grace is his first book with Zondervan since Prayer in 2006, according to Tom Dean, senior director of marketing for trade nonfiction. Dean and his team have revamped Yancey’s website, are organizing a book tour and planning plenty of promotional materials to keep Christian retail stores happy and part of the launch.

“Philip is on a journey with the reader,” Dean said. “He says to them, ‘I have the same questions you do, so let’s explore them together.’ ”

One of the first things Dean and Zondervan did was a brand analysis of who Yancey really is. His website,, received a complete overhaul with his input an integral part of that work. The second thing was to plan a seven-city book tour from one end of the U.S. to the other.

Yancey will visit churches that seat at least 1,500 for each of the free events. Titled “An Evening with Philip Yancey,” he will speak for 30-40 minutes on the topic of “vanishing grace,” and after a musical interlude, take questions from the audience. He’ll visit San Diego; Detroit; Atlanta; Cleveland; Auburn, Alabama; Kansas City; and Menlo Park, California.

“We are taking the creative assets of our own marketing campaign and providing them to the churches, including printed pieces, eblasts, PowerPoint presentations and website materials,” Dean said.

Christian retail stores are also part of the design, with the author planning to visit several stores in the Denver area after the holidays and taking part in Skype interviews or book club gatherings via digital connection whenever possible.

“This is a key opportunity for Christian retail to step up, and we’re looking for our retailers to deliver significantly,” Dean said.

Merchandising materials provided to bookstores will mirror those provided to Yancey’s tour venues, with additional pieces such as artwork for bag-stuffers and website banner ads available on request. Zondervan also is releasing a DVD and study guide appropriate for group and individual use.

“This is our biggest budgeted book for fiscal 2015 and our biggest frontlist title,” Dean said. “It’s the book we have the highest expectations for this year.”

One of Yancey’s goals is to provide bookstores with titles that truly sell.

“I’ve published 25 books or so and cover a lot of different topics,” he said. “People come into the bookstores with a problem, and my books can offer help. So often Christian booksellers become counselors; I want to provide them with books they can give to customers who need them.”

Yancey has a library of around 5,000 volumes, the majority of which came from Christian stores through the years.

“I love Christian retail stores,” he said. “My mother made her living with the Bible Club Movement, now BCM International, so she would go into Christian bookstores and buy flannelgraphs and booklets. I would tag along with her.”

He acknowledges the struggles Christian retailers face, but also the good services they provide.9780310339328 image

“Christian retailers need that sense of mission as well as good business practices,” Yancey said. “One thing they offer is a personal, listening ear and knowledge about a particular book that might help. Many times a person wanders into a bookstore but doesn’t know what they want. Perhaps he or she has questions or knows someone with a problem. That’s where Christian retailers with a personal touch can fill the gap.”

Zondervan has been intentional about introducing Yancey to retailers, including meeting with Parable Group retailers and a visit with Munce Group retailers.

“When you hear Philip talk about the book, he’s got amazing stories of everyday Christians extending grace in amazing ways,” Dean said. “He truly has a heart for the church. General lay readers as well as church leaders will be interested in this book.”

To retailers such as Bill Ballou, who has owned The Solid Rock in Kearney, Nebraska, for 40 years, a new Yancey title means promoting the book via displays and handselling to customers.

Vanishing Grace is going to be a very relevant book, as Christians are becoming less relevant to our society and as we react badly when things don’t go our way on things like gay marriage, abortion and healthcare,” Ballou said. “We need to act like Christians.”

Zondervan’s David Morris, vice president and publisher for trade books, calls Yancey “a trusted fellow pilgrim who helps everyday readers put into words the things we’re all feeling. He captures the important human questions, shows how we might think about them as Christians and shows us the places and ways where the gospel message shines.”

Yancey is quick to say that he didn’t want to write a scolding book, but a soul-searching kind of book.

“I really want this to be a positive book that helps the church think through what we’re not doing right, and come up with ways to do it better,” he said.

The book’s beginnings go back to his earlier title What’s So Amazing About Grace? (Zondervan), which was first released in 1997. We live in a different world now, he says, than we did 20 years ago when Christians were more respected.

“People who are outsiders to the faith no longer see what we have as Good News, but as bad news,” Yancey said. “I decided to find out what happened and how we should respond to those opinions. I wanted to ask the questions, ‘Is it really Good News, both for me and at large?’ ”

Zondervan’s Morris agrees.

Vanishing Grace tells everyday Christians, who might feel a little embattled and lost in today’s religious climate, that nothing should stop us from taking an opportunity to show God’s grace,” Morris said. “My hope is that the book will inspire and equip us to do what Christians are called to do: show love toward others. It’s biblical, achievable and there for the taking if you’re courageous enough to answer that call.”

Even U2 lead singer and activist Bono endorsed Yancey’s latest work.

“It’s a lot to expect authors themselves to live up to the magic of their words, and it’s very special when they do,” Bono said. “Philip Yancey has a way about him that can only be described as graceful. Not vanishing at all … very present.”

Next year, Yancey plans to start on a memoir.

Written by Christine D. Johnson   
Wednesday, 03 September 2014 08:31 AM EDT

Action Bible, Duck Commander brands expand

TheActionBible-TheBattleBeginsMaster illustrator Sergio Cariello is back with the Bible’s creation story in an all-new graphic novel, The Action Bible: The Battle Begins: The Story of Creation (9780781411424, $12.99, softcover, David C Cook), for kids ages 9-12.

Releasing Oct. 1, this animated story of the beginning of time takes readers to the Garden of Eden, meeting God walking there and seeing Jesus, the Word, active in creation. Readers see Lucifer betray his friend, Michael the Archangel, and how Adam and Eve fall into Lucifer’s trap.

Cariello teams up with Caleb J. Seeling, a columnist for arts magazines and on The Story of Creation, the first of four volumes.


BeYourOwnDuckCommanderWillie and Korie Robertson’s son, John Luke, of A+E’s Duck Dynasty family teams up with novelist Travis Thrasher on four fiction books for readers ages 8-12 from Tyndale House Publishers. Titles in the Be Your Own Duck Commander Boxed Set (9781414398174, $29.99, October) also are sold individually for $9.99 each.

After a few chapters in each book, readers can choose to go down different paths in the Duck Commander world—each filled with humor and life lessons. The individual titles are: Willie’s Redneck Time Machine; Phil and the Ghost of Camp Ch-Yo-Ca; Si in Space; and Jase & the Deadliest Hunt.





Jesse Romero
Servant Books (Franciscan Media)
160 pages, $15.99

A retired veteran of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, Romero is an author, theologian and director of religious education at a parish north of L.A. He believes that Catholics are called to radically live their faith. In Catholics, Wake Up! Be a Spiritual Warrior, he aims to jolt believers out of their spiritual lethargy and challenges them to show up to claim every situation for the Lord. Romero says that believers are to be spiritual warriors who triumph with God’s strength in life’s difficulties.




Ignatius Press
hardcover, $35

The Didache Bible presents extensive commentaries on all books of the Bible based on the Catechism of the Catholic Church. The Bible includes the complete Scripture text using the Revised Standard Version, Second Catholic Edition. It features a 6-by-9-inch trim size, 27 full-color maps, a glossary, topical index and apologetic explanations to common questions about faith.




Guy Consolmagno, SJ; Paul Mueller, SJ
Image (Crown Publishing Group/Random House)
hardcover, 304 pages, $25
Oct. 7

Pope Francis posed the question in this book’s title to provoke deeper reflection about inclusiveness and diversity in the church. Authors Consolmagno and Mueller—scientists at the Vatican Observatory—often hear similar questions. In Would You Baptize an Extraterrestrial? …And Other Questions from the Astronomers’ In-box at the Vatican Observatory, they explore a variety of questions at the crossroads of faith and reason such as how to reconcile the Big Bang with Genesis and what really went down between Galileo and the Catholic church. With humor, the authors explore these questions and more.





Barbour Publishing
softcover, 384 pages, $14.99
Oct. 1

Going beyond Bible stories, this colorful book challenges children ages 5 to 8 to stop and think about the meaning of each story recounted. More than 180 stories are drawn from the breadth of Scripture—from “In the Beginning, God” of Genesis 1 through heaven’s tree of life in Revelation 22—and are illustrated in full color. Bedtime Bible Stories is compiled from the Barbour series with sales of nearly a half-million copies.




Angie Smith; illustrated by Breezy Brookshire
B&H Kids (B&H Publishing Group)
256 pages, $14.99
Oct. 1

Best-selling author Smith offers a new storybook collection of women from the Bible, retold for girls ages 6-10. In For Such a Time as This, her attention turns to 40 women from the Old and New Testaments, including Eve, Sarah and Hagar, Esther, Mary Magdalene and Gomer. Summaries at the end of each story highlight an attribute of God to be learned from the story and offer thoughtful reflections for parent and child.




Peter Martin; illustrated by
Peter Kent
Kregel Publications
48 pages, $14.99
Oct. 27

This picture-search puzzle book offers 17 illustrated scenes of events from the life of Jesus. Young detectives are invited to find answers to the questions posed on each page. Some puzzles involve looking for details of everyday life, while others highlight things that happened in the Bible stories. Visual learners may find Jesus Detective particularly appealing.




Dannah Gresh
Harvest House Publishers
64 pages, $12.99
Oct. 1

Secret Keeper Girl Pajama Party is a mom-daughter study for 8-to-12-year-old girls and their moms. More than 300,000 moms and daughters have experienced Secret Keeper Girl Live! The Pajama Party Tour, created by the author. Moms and daughters can enjoy an evening of giggles and games—and also find opportunities to open up about concerns tweens have like drama with friends or what she thinks about boys along with her friendship with Jesus. The games, recipes, lessons and discussion questions Gresh provides are geared for a group or just for mom and daughter.




Marianne Hering, Nancy I. Sanders
Tyndale House Publishers
softcover, 144 pages, $4.99

In Surprise at Yorktown, readers will travel back two centuries to the final battle of the American Revolution at Yorktown, Virginia. Cousins Patrick and Beth sneak through trenches and race across battlefields to warn General Washington about a dangerous spy. The spy is stealing his secret plans and giving them to the British. Cannons roar and the ground shakes as the struggle reaches a climax. Washington’s ragtag soldiers are up against the most powerful army in the world. Will Patrick and Beth witness the American Revolution come to an end? Or will they be caught in a dangerous trap they can’t escape?




Ann-Margret Hovsepian
David C Cook
432 pages, $14.99
Oct. 1

This all-new companion to the best-selling devotional Truth and Dare challenges girls to put their faith into action. Truth, Dare, Double Dare is a fast-paced, real-life daily devotional for girls ages 8 to 12. Each day of reading includes a few Bible verses, an exploration of what they mean and ways tweens can apply God’s truth to their lives. It includes journaling prompts, fun quizzes and relevant messages for tween girls.



Quién es Quién y Dónde Es Dónde en la Biblia 2.0 (WHO’S WHO AND WHERE’S WHERE IN THE BIBLE 2.0)


Stephen M. Miller
Barbour Publishing
480 pages, $19.99
Oct. 1

Who’s Who and Where’s Where in the Bible has sold more than a quarter-million copies. Now, the revised and expanded edition is available in Spanish. This A-Z magazine-style dictionary features insights about more than 500 of the most important people and places of Scripture.


Young Adult



Jim George
Harvest House Publishers
208 pages, $11.99
October 1

Best-selling author George encourages young men to know their Bible, what it says and make it their personal guide for all of life. Along the way, he also offers ideas for Bible study and practical application. The young women’s counterpart by Elizabeth George is also available.




Stasi Eldredge
David C Cook
224 pages, $15.99
Oct. 1

In the teen edition of the best-selling title Becoming Myself, Eldredge challenges girls ages 15 to 18 to learn to believe God’s truth about their beauty and worthiness. Age-appropriate examples and stories encourage and equip readers to embrace what God says about them and His dream for their lives. Practical and interactive elements, including helpful hints, questions and advice, end each chapter.




Sadie Robertson with Beth Clark
Howard Books
224 pages, $22.99
Oct. 28

Seventeen-year-old Sadie Robertson—star of A&E’s Duck Dynasty and daughter of Willie and Korie Robertson—opens up about herself and the values that make her family what it is in Live Original. Robertson lives by a list of simple principles—think happy, be happy, dream big, shake the hate, do something and many more—that have led to personal and spiritual growth and have helped her relationships flourish.


<< Start < Prev 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Next > End >>

Page 1 of 150