Show with a mission Print
Written by Eric Tiansay   
Wednesday, 29 May 2013 09:56 AM America/New_York

CBA INT13 show logo_CMYKSt. Louis event to emphasize outreach efforts, understanding future customers

Two significant outreach efforts by best-selling author Max Lucado and renowned evangelist Billy Graham will be emphasized at the International Christian Retail Show (ICRS). A second major focus—understanding the future customer—will have major emphasis during CBA’s marquee summer event, held June 23-26 at the America’s Center Convention Complex in St. Louis. 

AmericasCenterConventionComplex_GreggGoldman“The church and Christianity are undergoing significant cultural shifts, and Christian stores are part of it,” said CBA President Curtis Riskey. “They offer unique ways to serve the church and support evangelism, ministry and personal growth. We are honored to have major ministry initiatives launch at the show in such a cooperative way.” 

Lucado will be the keynote speaker at the Worship Him service at ICRS, and his newest book, You’ll Get Through This, will be released by Thomas Nelson on Sept. 10. The best-selling author is launching an initiative to reach 5 million “hurting hearts” in cooperation with the Salvation Army. The initiative launches Sept. 11 during a Salvation Army commemoration of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

Meanwhile, the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA) will introduce My Hope America with Billy Graham, a nationwide evangelistic effort. On Oct. 15, Thomas Nelson will publish Graham’s The Reason for My Hope: Salvation, the centerpiece of the massive fall campaign that will seek to mobilize millions of Christians to invite non-Christians to hear the gospel through customized video and a new message from Graham. 

CBA’s Riskey said business and retailing are changing rapidly, and there is much for retailers to learn at the show.

“We are striving to make ICRS a place for retail buyers to see new products, new trends and learn about new customers,” he said. “The store of the future is tied directly to the customer of the future, and doing retail in this emerging environment will require new skills, new insights and new ways to do business.”

An organization called Humanitri is the beneficiary of the 2013 ICRS Ministry in Action project. The result of a merger of three Lutheran ministries, Humanitri assists families impacted by homelessness, incarceration, single motherhood and poverty. 

“A broad base of programs, services, ministries and partnerships gives us the ability, with God’s help, to assist them in moving toward self-sufficiency, regardless of a family’s situation,” said Humanitri CEO Robert Otrembiak. “Our greatest successes come when those who we have helped help others.”

Since 2006, Humanitri has served more than 7,500 clients, helping them secure housing, employment and essential items. 

 Humanitri’s ministry goes hand in hand with the ICRS theme: “Your Show. One Mission—to go into all the world.”

“ICRS is not just about surviving in tough times—it’s about thriving,” CBA officials said. “Because a time of unprecedented challenges is also a time of unprecedented opportunities. … In a challenging economy, we can’t be doing things the way we’ve always done them. It’s time for ‘new wineskins’—new ways of thinking. That’s why we’ve recrafted every aspect of the show.”


Though the show doesn’t officially start until Monday, there are several events to take advantage of Sunday. As a first stop, the registration desk is open 7:30 a.m.-6 p.m. 

New for this year, CBA is offering a Prayer Center, which will be open 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Daily during ICRS. American Christian Fiction Writers will coordinate prayer in the room. Rachel Hauck, Brandilyn Collins and other authors will intercede for the Christian products industry.

“The prayer room is about creating a place to worship in the midst of busyness,” Hauck said. “It’s a continual offering before the Lord with worship and prayers.”

Retail Academy with national retail trainer Bob Negen of WhizBang! will be helpful to retailers of all skill levels. Training runs 8 a.m.-2 p.m., with an additional registration fee of $50 required. Sponsored by Ingram/Spring Arbor, this six-hour workshop will help retailers take their businesses to the next level with practical tips crafted especially for independents. 

Another longer session, running 8 a.m.-2 p.m., Author Boot Camp will help prepare authors for the demands of marketing their book. The six-hour intensive course, hosted by Suzanne Kuhn of SuzyQ, will offer insights into book sales, retailer relations, effective engagement through social media and successful events. An additional registration $50 fee is required. 

International guests are welcome to attend the Global Welcome Gathering, an annual special event sponsored by Christian Trade Association International (CTAI). 

The event, which runs 10 a.m.-noon, will feature a continental breakfast, worship music by Scott Reed of Dwell Ministries, a brief update on CTAI activities and a message by keynote speaker Dag Heward-Mills, founder of Lighthouse Chapel International in Ghana. An additional $25 registration fee is required. 

Running 1-2 p.m., the International Business Vision General Session will provide insights into global business trends, product opportunities and government programs that promote worldwide business. Andrea DaSilva, senior policy analyst of media and entertainment for the U.S. Department of Commerce, will highlight trends in international trade and intellectual property issues. After her presentation, there will be a Q&A panel discussion with DaSilva; Tim Banting, sales development manager for InterVarsity Press UK; and Chris Robert, national director of Evangelical Literature Services in India—part of CLC Ministries International. 

At the first General Session, 2:30-3:30 p.m., participants will hear from Colin Shaw, CEO of Beyond Philosophy and author of The DNA of Customer Experience: How Emotions Drive Value (Palgrave Macmillan). Shaw’s research reveals how consumers’ emotional states and experiences must be addressed in any business relationship. For Christian stores, experiences and emotional connections are competitive advantages against online retailers and mega-discounters.

An informational panel discussion will feature Bill White, vice president of sales for Not of This World and C28; Danni Schneidt-Hill, owner of Promises “His” Coffee & Cottage Shoppe in Malta, Mont.; and Cindy Lambert, publishing strategist for Somersault Group.

The Lifestyle Stories exhibit also features the Merchandising Best Practices workshop, led by Schneidt-Hill from 9:30-10:30 a.m. Tuesday, June 25. 

Following the General Session, 3:30-5:30 p.m., the Bridgestone Multimedia Group film screening will feature The Lost Medallion: The Adventures of Billy Stone. Starring Alex Kendrick (Courageous, Fireproof and Facing the Giants), the family-friendly adventure tells the story of a lost medal, which helps a group of foster children realize their tremendous value to God.

Christian Small Publisher Association’s (CSPA) sixth annual seminar for publishers and anyone interested in becoming a publisher runs 3:30-6 p.m. Attendees at the Publishers’ Institute: Tools for Success will learn tips for success in publishing and marketing from Christian publishing professionals. 

Topics include “International Rights: Is it Right for You?” (Executive Director Cheryl Melendez and International Rights Manager Michelle Zasadil for Gospel Literature International); “Creating Thriving Ecosystems” (Global Mapping International President and CEO Jon Hirst); and “Marketing Trends in Selling Books” (CSPA Director Sarah Bolme).

Running 7-8 p.m., the Worship Him service will feature Steven Curtis Chapman and Laura Story. 

Story, whose song “Blessings” was named Top Christian Song earlier this year during the Billboard Music Awards, will open the service. She will be followed by Lucado, whose message will focus on living through tough times. Chapman, who is working on a new Reunion Records album to release in October, will lead worship. 

Following the Worship Him service, which runs 8:30-9:30 p.m., Matthew West will host the New Voices Showcase, featuring American Idol contestant Danny Gokey, As One, The Vespers, Thi’sl, Todd Ballard and Red Roots. In October, NavPress will release Gokey’s Hope in Front of Me, in which he shares his Idol experience, his wife’s unexpected death and new beginnings after devastating loss. 

The Worship Him service and New Voices Showcase will be held at the Ferrara Theater and are open to the public. 


Registration is open 7:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m., and the exhibit floor, Located in Halls 3, 4 and 5 of America’s Center, is open 8:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m. with a soft close until 6 p.m. The opening ceremony, which replaces the former exhibit hall ribbon-cutting gathering, will be held at 7:45-8:30 a.m. Steve Arterburn, best-selling author of Every Man’s Battle (WaterBrook Press), will present the devotional and prayer. 

Workshops will be held at 10 a.m., 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. 

The CBA Member Luncheon, a 90-minute event, begins at 11:30 a.m and will feature William P. Young, best-selling author of The Shack and Cross Roads. Author Chris Fabry will interview Young. 

The annual Children’s Product Trends session with children’s expert Mary Manz Simon is to be held 3-4:30 p.m., with additional registration required. The popular event showcases the latest trends and merchandising ideas in children’s product for retail owners and managers, buyers and frontliners. Each attendee will be given a sample of each featured product.

A City on a Hill Studio film screening of Acts of God runs 6-8 p.m. Tied to the biblical story of Joseph, the movie tells the story of six hurting souls brought together through the death of a child. 

Winners for the 14th Annual Christy Awards, which honors excellence in Christian fiction, will be presented at a 7-9:30 p.m. dinner at the Renaissance St. Louis Grand Hotel. Cost is $60 per person.  

The movie is yet to be determined, but the Echolight Distribution film screening is scheduled from 6:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. 


Registration runs 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., and the floor is open 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. with the soft close in effect until 6 p.m. Nine workshops go full-throttle, starting at 8 a.m.

Running 7:30-9 a.m., My Hope America with Billy Graham Preview is sponsored by BGEA, Capitol Christian Distribution and W Publishing. The event, which will feature Graham’s forthcoming book and a new music project inspired by it, will present details of the nationwide evangelism project. Participants in the initiative—called “Matthews”—will be encouraged to reach out to those who don’t know Christ, just as the disciple Matthew did in the New Testament. 

The P. Graham Dunn Laser Engravings Program Update, which runs 8-9 a.m., is for customers and interested dealers of the gift supplier. The program will cover topics such as new touchscreen software, updated fixtures and marketing/merchandising materials.

Sponsored by Choose NOW Ministries, How to be Effective in the Media: Landing and Giving Great Interviews is set for 9-10 a.m. Nicole O’Dell, founder of Choose NOW Ministries and host of “Choose NOW Radio,” will help authors, artists and ministry leaders land interviews and craft a marketing message that will reach audiences and leave an impression.

From 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., Bridgestone Multimedia Group will host a film screening of Jimmy. Based on the Thomas Nelson novel of the same title by author Robert Whitlow, the movie tells the story of a mentally challenged 14-year-old Jimmy Mitchell.

Best-selling author Karen Kingsbury will be part of Christian Fiction: Authors, Retailers, Readers, which will include research from industry sales data and other sources. The event, which features product giveaway, is to be held 3-4:30 p.m., with additional registration required. Retailers will be able to interact with Kingsbury and other authors. 

The Pure Flix Entertainment screening runs from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.  Films will be announced at a later date.


The show concludes Wednesday, but registration is still open, 7:30 a.m.-noon. The exhibit floor is open 8:30 a.m.-3 p.m. with no soft close.

Need to know: St. Louis


America’s Center is conveniently located in the heart of downtown St. Louis close to hotels, dining, attractions, shopping and public transportation. If you’re staying in an ICRS show hotel, take advantage of CBA’s complimentary shuttle bus service to and from the convention center. But, when you’re out and about, one of the easiest ways to get around St. Louis is by riding MetroLink and MetroBus trains and buses. Learn more at

To find something to do in the city, be sure to check in with the St. Louis Convention & Visitors Commission,, to learn about restaurants, events, attractions and day-trip ideas. Events at or near ICRS time include a Kenny Chesney concert at the Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre and a St. Louis Cardinals vs. Texas Rangers game at Busch Stadium.

Attractions include the Gateway Arch, the iconic image of the city that towers 630 feet over the Mississippi River. Within walking distance of the arch, Citygarden is touted as an “artistic oasis” in the heart of downtown. 

One of the largest urban parks in the country, Forest Park, which offers free admission, features the Art Museum, St. Louis Science Center, St. Louis Zoo, Jewel Box greenhouse, History Museum and The Muny theater as well as a biking, jogging and skating path, skating rink and lakes.