Christian Retailing

Charisma Media announces structural changes, combines multimedia and book groups Print Email
Thursday, 05 August 2021 04:51 PM America/New_York

 logo watermark for webStephen E. Strang, founder and CEO of Charisma Media, announced on June 3 that the company is combining its multimedia and book groups effective immediately. The announcement came the same week Charisma Media celebrated its 40th anniversary as a company. 

The new structure combines magazines, books, the MEV Bible, digital products and the Charisma Podcast Network into the two areas of markets and operations. With many industry changes, this change of structure will allow Charisma Media to develop new channels for its audience and maximize its digital footprint to distribute content.

The change expands the roles of two of Charisma Media’s executive team members. Dr. Steve Greene will now serve as executive vice president of media and markets, and Ken Peckett is now executive vice president of operations.

“This new structure streamlines our organization, minimizes duplication and overhead, and positions us for growth,” Strang said. “In the process, we can better serve the Christian community and pursue our passion to encourage people to experience the power of the Holy Spirit.” CR

Max Lucado receives 2021 ECPA Pinnacle Award Print Email
Thursday, 05 August 2021 04:56 PM America/New_York

 Max LucadoBestselling author and pastor Max Lucado was recently awarded the 2021 Evangelical Christian Publishers Association Pinnacle Award for the outstanding contribution of his writing, both to the publishing industry and to society at large.

Lucado is only the fourth recipient of this honor, which recognizes the outstanding contribution by an author or book. It was presented at the ECPA Awards Celebration on May 6 via webinar at the conclusion of the ECPA Leadership Summit.

Lucado’s career highlights are unprecedented in Christian publishing, with his products exceeding sales of 145 million. His books are printed in 45 languages and distributed throughout 80 countries worldwide. On the Anvil, his first trade book, was published in 1985. His forthcoming title, You Were Made for This Moment, will release in September 2021 from Thomas Nelson. Twenty-three of his titles have sold more than 1 million copies.

“It is such an honor for ECPA to present the Pinnacle Award to Max Lucado,” said ECPA President Stan Jantz. “I was a bookseller in 1985, and I clearly remember when our store received On the Anvil for the first time. The accessibility of the writing and the clear expression of the heart of someone who loved Jesus more than anything were early indicators that this was a special author.”

“It is an honor for HarperCollins Christian Publishing to represent Max and his collection of life-changing, God-centered works for the past 31 years,” said Mark Schoenwald, president and CEO. “God’s grace, mercy and unconditional love has been discovered by millions of people because of Max’s devotion and love for his Lord and Savior. I join my colleagues at HCCP and the publishing industry in offering our sincerest thanks for his many contributions and congratulations on this amazing recognition.”

Past recipients of the ECPA Pinnacle Award include Stormie Omartian (Power of a Praying series), Dr. Gary Chapman (The 5 Love Languages series) and Jerry Jenkins and Tim LaHaye (Left Behind series). CR

Baker & Taylor Publisher Services and SPCK Group announce new sales and fulfillment agreement Print Email
Thursday, 05 August 2021 04:19 PM America/New_York

BAKER AND TAYLOR PUB SVCS Screenshot 2021 07 06 174656Baker & Taylor Publisher Services (, a leading provider of sales and fulfillment services to book publishers, is pleased to announce the signing of a full-service sales and distribution agreement with the SPCK Group, effective July 1, 2021 – US/CAN only.

The SPCK Group is the one of the world’s leading Christian publishers, formed following the acquisitions of Inter-Varsity Press UK as well as Lion Hudson by the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, a publisher founded in 1698. Under this arrangement, all three lists will be available from BTPS.

Lion Hudson ( is a renowned Christian publisher that features an extensive list of award-winning books for adults and children under several imprints, including Lion Books, Monarch Books, Lion Scholar, Lion Fiction, Lion Children’s Books and Candle Books. Its mission is to “see literature that challenges, encourages and leads people to God, whatever their background, with titles that cover a broad spectrum of faith-based publishing. 

Inter-Varsity Press UK (IVP UK, is an evangelical Christian publisher that arose from the Christian Union movement in the U.K. Its mission is to publish Christian books that are true to the Bible and that communicate the gospel, develop discipleship and strengthen the church for its mission throughout the world. 

SPCK Publishing ( has been publishing Christian books since the 17th century and is best known for its work with such authors as N.T. Wright, Rowan William and Richard Rohr. SPCK aims to publish the best Christian books in a range of genres, including theology, biblical studies, Bibles and children’s. SPCK Publishing also publishes spiritual fiction titles under the Marylebone House imprint.

“This new partnership with BTPS is a significant step for the SPCK Group in ensuring availability of all our titles in North America and growing the sales of our authors,” said Sam Richardson, CEO of SPCK Group. 

“We are honored and privileged to partner with the SPCK Group, including Lion Hudson, IVP UK and SPCK Publishing, whose solid reputation for incredible adult and children’s books is known worldwide for helping people grow in the Christian faith,” said Randy McKenzie, sales manager of BTPS’s Christian Division. CR

CBA plans to ‘interrupt’ industry for the cause of Christ Print Email
Written by Christine D. Johnson   
Thursday, 12 July 2018 05:26 PM America/New_York

ShowFloor Unite2018 croppedCBA, the Association for Christian Retail, moved its annual convention to Nashville this year. The location, the Gaylord Opryland Hotel and Convention Center, along with significant funds given to CBA member retailers to pay for show expenses were factors that drew Christian retailers to the Unite convention.

CBA reported that more than 1,700 people, a 10 percent increase over last year, attended the July 8-11 trade show. Representatives from 35 countries also attended.

Although the gift section of the exhibit floor appeared to be full, some gift companies either did not attend Unite or went from one show to the next as Unite and the Atlanta gift show at AmericasMart overlapped. 

“For the most part, we sold out our booth space,” CBA President Curtis Riskey said.

CBA is also in the very early stages of establishing strategic alliances and is challenging retailers and suppliers to look at the industry in a fresh way.

“Many great things are birthed in times of great fire, turmoil and crisis,” said Eddie Roush, the new chairman of CBA Service Corp., who has invested $1 million in CBA, including retailer show reimbursement. “Many Christian retailers are suffering because they have not yet adopted new ways of marketing their businesses, and at CBA’s Unite 2018, we have provided them new tools, insight and inspiration in order to thrive.”

Roush is also president of The Roush Foundation, which helped to organize and underwrite Unite 2018.

“We feel we need to rebrand Christianity,” he added. “We have taken the holy name of Jesus and diluted it, where people have lost hope in His power to give hope and new ideas to our business owners who are struggling. We have come to interrupt our industry for the good of furthering the cause of Christ.”

Most of the training at the show was offered free of charge for retailers, who took advantage of the opportunity to learn from inside and outside experts on retail topics.

“We had so many people not only sign up for education workshops but also attending,” Riskey said. “A lot of years we would measure somewhere between 20 and 40 on average who would be attending a session. This year there are many that averaged well over 100.”

Riskey was encouraged by the increase.

“We’re talking a lot about change,” he said. “There’s change needed, because obviously you can’t expect to do the same things and expect different results. But when I see those folks taking workshop sessions and things like that, people are starting to realize they do need help and are seeking it. Hopefully they found a lot of really good things here.”

CBA brings Unite back to the same location next year, June 25-28.

'90 Minutes in Heaven' author Don Piper continues his heavenly story Print Email
Written by Christine D. Johnson   
Tuesday, 10 July 2018 08:12 PM America/New_York

DonPiperDon Piper, a New York Times best-selling author and the subject of the 90 Minutes in Heaven movie, said he came to know Christ as Savior at age 16 through the influence of friends and relatives. Those were the people he says he met at the gates of heaven when he died in a car crash at age 38 and spent 13 months in the hospital.

In his new book, People I Met at the Gates of Heaven, Piper, who is also an ordained minister, told of those who expected and met him at heaven’s gates. His college roommate’s mother met him there, as did one of his classmates who was killed, his great-grandparents, his grandmother and a teacher.

People I Met at the Gates of Heaven also shows how believers can and should influence others on earth for heaven's purposes, just as those who helped lead Piper to Christ influenced him.

As for whose name is written in the Lamb’s Book of Life, which the Scripture speaks about, “only God knows” Piper said.

“We think we know who’s going and who’s not, and we do not,” he said.

FaithWords releases his new book in November.

New Craig von Buseck book addresses hearing God's voice Print Email
Written by Christine D. Johnson   
Tuesday, 10 July 2018 07:14 PM America/New_York

CraigvonBuseck Facebook

Author Craig von Buseck brings his Bible-teaching skills to his new book, Seven Keys to Hearing God’s Voice from Ramcastle Press. Supportive of Christian retail, von Buseck came to Unite 2018 to share the story of his new book that, he said, fills a market niche.

Seven Keys to Hearing God’s Voice is a book that is different than anything I’ve seen in the market in that it talks about the traditional forms of God’s guidance that you hear in pretty much any kind of a church you’re going to go into, the Scripture and godly counsel and the peace of God in confirmation,” von Buseck said. “Those are things that everybody agrees on. But what differentiates this book is that I specifically speak to, first of all, the Holy Spirit speaking directly to our hearts, and I talk about how that happens.”

He identifies four voices that try to lead the Christian’s life: God, the devil, one’s self and the world, which could be a mentor or parents, for instance.

“We need to learn how to discern between those different voices, but one of those voices is the Lord,” he said, citing Joy Behar of ABC's The View, who stirred up social media with her assertion that when Jesus talks to you, it’s a “mental illness.” She has since apologized for her remark.

In the book, von Buseck shows how God speaks to the Christian and, at times, even those who don’t know the Lord.

“I give these seven different channels through which the Lord will speak, and the point of the book is to say that He doesn’t typically speak through any one of those things,” von Buseck said. “Typically He’ll speak through several, if not all of the seven keys, then He’ll knit it together in a tapestry, and it’s in the picture of that tapestry that we see the picture of God’s guidance.”

This book is different from most books on God’s guidance in that it also teaches on personal prophecy, words of knowledge and words of wisdom.

“God gave us a brain. He gave us an intellect,” von Buseck said of the need to know how God speaks to us. “We’re not just spiritual beings.”

The author may also post teaching videos related to the book on his website,, in the future.

Gift merchandising training draws a retail crowd Print Email
Written by Christine D. Johnson   
Tuesday, 10 July 2018 06:16 PM America/New_York

DonnaMcCollough gifts Unite

Christian retailers filled the tables and some stood to hear three gift merchandising experts teach the Ignite Your Gift Sales session. Sherry Morris of Carpentree, Michelle Amster of Integra Interactive and retailer Donna McCollough shared tips at the session held at the Church Bookstore Connection Center at CBA’s Unite 2018.

Sherry Morris, marketing manager at Carpentree, was pleased to speak to the retailers to inspire them to go back to their stores and try something new.

“It was a joy to be here and talk to the retailers and try to just give them a vision for what merchandising can be, because we all need that little bit of creative spark to take us from one level to the next level,” she said. “A lot of people already had the basics, already know it, but when you stop and you think about merchandising and what you’re trying to accomplish to help your store take that bottom line up, then it’s really good to think, What can I do to reach the next level?

The session was a continuation of last year’s training at Unite in Cincinnati.

“We’re trying to take what we taught last year about the five basic techniques of merchandising and encourage people to scaffold that to the next level,” Morris said. “What is good merchandising? What is better merchandising? And what is the best merchandising? And we gave them a rubric to try to help them to think about that. We wanted to just give them another tool to encourage them.”

McCollough, co-owner of Dove Christian Supply in Dothan, Alabama, talked of sharing the gospel any way the retailer can, including through “lifestyle product.”

Beyond more prominent product displays toward the front of the store, McCollough encourages retailers to have secondary displays to draw customers in “further and further” into the store.

McCollough talked about using simple things such as an old window with chicken wire to display jewelry. Morris added that going to flea markets, estate sales and perhaps a friend’s barn to pick up inexpensive or free items to use in gift display and attract attention.

It’s also important to make a statement and to have adequate gift product on display, McCollough said. She pointed out that it has to be full enough so that customers “know you care about the product.”

CBA Future of the Industry event focuses on world market Print Email
Written by Christine D. Johnson   
Tuesday, 10 July 2018 04:58 PM America/New_York

FutureOfTheIndustry Unite CroppedTuesday morning’s Future of the Industry (FOI) breakfast continued on from the Sunday’s Worship Him themes. But FOI also highlighted CBA’s new emphasis on big, shared data for the Christian retail industry.

Following a musical set by Curt Anderson at the keyboard, CBA President Curtis Riskey introduced the topic of the FOI discussion.

“There isn’t an industry with a more powerful and important message,” the former Christian retailer declared. Focused on the future, Riskey prayed to the “God of new beginnings.”

The new chairman of CBA Service Corp. and chairman of the Roush Foundation, Eddie Roush invited his business partner, Kurt Ruf, and Clyde Rivers, a U.S. citizen who is an honorary ambassador at large for the nation of Burundi, into a living room setting, asking attendees to listen to their “private conversation.”

Roush talked of the Christian products industry as lacking “tools, vision and even the resources” to expand, noting how big the world market is. He asked Rivers if it would even be possible to pair a retail store in the U.S. with a city or region elsewhere to meet the needs of the internationals there. Rivers answered in the affirmative, saying it is possible to “re-store a nation.”

Roush cautioned against a close alignment with American politics and governments, which, he said, “turns off people, including Millennials.”

Rivers shared what life is like in Burundi and how open the people are to Christianity. Christian music is played in the airport he travels to and can be heard in restaurants as well.

Roush said the industry needs to “clean up our act” to be ready for this “global play.”

To do that, Ruf noted the importance of tailoring customer communication, to “differentiate and personalize.” Ruf observed that “the old spray-and-pray days are over” and that the industry must use data as a tool to target customers in a mobile society. Ruf spoke of isolating consumer prospects that align with key values such as “small town sensibility” and the need to continuously clean the data to be sure it is accurate.

Rivers believes that governments are willing to share data “if we can help them meet their needs.” He’s believes reaching the global market is possible.

“Jesus wants to set the narrative for every community in the world,” Rivers said.

Roush said the way forward is about “spreading the Jesus narrative,” not an American-style gospel. He also thinks Americans will benefit from global partnerships that pair particular stores with regions of the world to meet their needs for resources, even older products, and to hear from them as well.

“Who are the voices in those countries who have something to say back here?” Roush said.

Marilyn Hood, who with her husband, Frank, recently closed their Sweet Spirit store, have been coming to CBA for over 30 years. The FOI discussion gave Hood “a real sense of hope” for the future of Christian retail.

“I’m excited about the future of the industry even though we’re transitioning out of it,” Hood said. “If we were starting today, I would be so excited about having a little city in some other country where we would maybe give a little portion of our income, that we would be maybe taking a mission trip with our customers or even through our church or whatever to go visit that little country and get that sisterhood bonding.”

Becky Gorczyca, executive director of the Association of Logos Bookstores, believes that Logos Bookstores are “customer centric” rather than “product centric,” another topic in the FOI discussion.

“Our joy is matching up the need of the customer with the product and helping those people walk closer to the Lord because of the relationship with us, whether it be conversation or product, and also with the product that has prayerfully been developed by authors and publishers,” Gorczyca said. “I think there’s a very big network that the Lord has put together to take His people where they are and expose them to things that are going to help them to grow. He uses authors, He uses publishers, He uses bookstores, He uses staff people, He uses marketing, He uses catalogs, all these kinds of things the Lord uses to reach His people to bring them closer to Him and to grow them. I am very privileged, as all the local stores are, to be part of that plan. And may we be here for many years, and we plan to be, in order to be part of His plan.”

The Logos association had its annual conference just before Unite.

“We at the Logos Bookstores are optimistic and encouraged about the future,” she said. “The theme for our conference this year was based on Micah 6:8, What would the Lord require of us but to do justly, to love mercy and to walk humbly with our God. That is the path that we are going to take, and we think the future is bright if we follow the Lord and walk humbly where He wants us to go. We’re going to continue to reach out to our customers on an individual and relational basis. We’re going to continue to meet customers where they are and often that means that it’s not in our physical stores, but it’s outside of the four walls of our stores. We have been doing that consistently for years, and we’ve decided to ramp that up. We are happy about the future and are looking forward to it.”

Worship Him marches Christian retail into the future Print Email
Written by Christine D. Johnson   
Tuesday, 10 July 2018 12:47 AM America/New_York

Christian retailers went to church Monday night at CBA’s Worship Him service during Unite 2018. CBA’s annual convention is being held July 8-11 at the Gaylord Opryland in Nashville.

Jekalyn Carr (Lunjeal Music/New Day Christian Distributors) kicked off the musical portion of the evening as she reminded participants through the power of song that God is bigger than anything they might face.

With his crowd-pleasing band, Jason Crabb (pictured) continued the theme of expecting big things of God, praying, “Bless us, Lord. Bless us, Lord. Send your presence.” Crabb mentioned his recent CD release, Unexpected (Daywind/New Day Christian), but sang one classic not on the current CD that really roused the crowd, “Working on a Building.” He also gave away a Rahab’s Rope product, which benefits the poor in India.

Sandi Patty brought her resounding voice to the service although she is no longer touring regularly. While she sang a number of favorites, she also played and sang a quieter song, declaring that “Jesus is a faithful friend in the in between,” referring to the “in between seasons” of life. HarperCollins Christian Publishing releases her new book, The Voice, on Nov. 6.

In a welcome by CBA President Curtis Riskey before the music started, he promised that Unite 2018 was “not business as usual.” The service did seem different than usual with the challenge by one key speaker, Eddie Roush, chairman of the Roush Foundation, which gave a million dollars toward CBA member retailers’ show expenses.

Roush, who is also chairman of the CBA Service Corporation, stood with a Bible held high declaring many of the names of God from the Scriptures. When Roush was young, his pastor-father sang “There’s Something About That Name.” He talked of facing troubled times and said God’s Word warned of that ahead of time.

Roush went on to talk about the power of words, to say that Christianity needs to be rebranded and that the Christian products industry needs a dramatic change in its business practices and strategies.

He spoke at length about the fact that there is no such thing as a “Christian business,” but that only people can be Christian: “Can an organization or corporation be born again? The answer is no.”

He talked of the rebranding of Christianity that’s needed because evangelicals have become “especially paranoid.” Christians “seem to be governed by fear.” He added: “We fear change, any change. … Perfect love drives us away from fear.”

A former lawyer, Roush seemed to speak against the Christian baker who recently won his Supreme Court case for not baking a cake for a homosexual couple and against the alliance of believers with right-wing politics. He called out double standards and hypocrisy among Christians and called for compassion rather than cruelty.

“We abuse the name of Jesus for our personal gain,” Roush also said, calling on the industry to become “consumer centric.”

“I never ask God for money,” Roush said. “I ask Him for ideas because God always finances His ideas.”

“I’ve come to interrupt the industry,” Roush declared, reminding attendees of the lyrics to a Stephen Curtis Chapman song, “Saddle up your horses. We’ve got a trail to blaze.”

Keynote speaker Clyde Rivers, a U.S. citizen who is the honorary ambassador at large for the African country of Burundi and founder of iChange Nations, closed the night by saying “there’s nothing bigger than God in this world.” But, he added, “His currency is people. There’s no economic famine. There’s a gift famine.”

Rivers talked of Noah and Enoch receiving radical words from God that changed their generations.

“God wants you to do something different,” Rivers told the audience, calling on retailers to “retake the top, which, he said, is what repentance means. Some attendees responded to his altar call, going forward to be honest with God, repent and leave behind the old in a “spiritual trash can.”

Rivers called CBA “the organization that can reframe the world.”

Charlotte Pence promotes Center Street book at Unite Print Email
Written by Christine D. Johnson   
Monday, 09 July 2018 04:47 PM America/New_York
CharlottePence Unite2018 cropped
Center Street author Charlotte Pence visits Unite 2018.

Charlotte Pence, the middle child of Vice President Mike Pence and his wife, Karen, talked with Christian Retailing about Where You Go: Life Lessons From My Father. The Center Street book is set for October release.

Pence, who is starting her college career at Harvard Divinity School this fall, wrote Where You Go for her family but then decided to share it with the public.

“I’ve kind of been writing it, I feel like my whole life,” she said. “I’ve been writing down lessons that my dad and my mom have taught me and so being able to put that into print and share that with other people has been really fun and special.”

Pence’s father was elected to Congress when she was only 6. After he served as a congressman for 12 years and then as Indiana governor for four, he assumed the vice presidency.

Being in the public eye has “been pretty constant in our lives ever since I was very young,” Charlotte said. “It’s just kind of part of life, and I tell people it’s just what my parents do for a living. It’s not the most important thing in our life, but it’s definitely a constant presence. But I think that they’ve really protected our family through it all, and we’ve stayed really close.”

Although she is a “political child,” Charlotte believes readers will be able to relate to the stories and lessons she shares in Where You Go. She also hopes readers will “think about the ways in which they’re teaching others in their life and think about the ways in which they’ve learned from those around them.”

At Harvard, she plans to earn her master’s in theological studies; then Christian retailers can expect to hear more from her.

“I’ll be studying religious themes in literature, and I still want to go down the writing track,” she said. “I’m hoping that God’s going to challenge my thinking and my writing and really enrich my storytelling.”

Barbour names new president, VP Print Email
Written by Taylor Berglund   
Friday, 12 January 2018 03:30 PM America/New_York

Burns MaryBarbour Publishing CEO Timothy Martins announced that Mary Burns has been promoted to the position of president and chief operating officer, effective Jan. 1, 2018.

Martins, who served as Barbour’s president for over 20 years, will remain active with the company as CEO and serving on the company’s board of directors. Burns, a 23-year veteran of Barbour Publishing, has served as vice president of marketing for the majority of that time. The executive team will now report directly to Burns. Together they’ll be responsible for executing Barbour’s strategy and managing the business.

Martins commented on Barbour's future under Burns' leadership.

“I'm ecstatic about the possibilities for the company and its owners under Mary's leadership and look forward to watching her very capable team reach new heights in the months and years to come,” Martins said.

Burns cast a sunny vision for the company's future.

“I’m excited to take on the leadership role of president," Burns said. "With our recent transition to an ESOP, there are endless opportunities for Barbour to grow and continue our success in book publishing. It will be my pleasure to guide our motivated and dedicated team in accomplishing the goals we have set for the future.”

Burns also announced the promotion of Shalyn Sattler to the position of vice president of marketing. Sattler, who joined the Barbour team in 2005, has served as director of marketing in recent years. With this promotion, she will now be responsible for providing team leadership and strategy for all of the company’s marketing activities.

Sattler said she was pleased to receive this promotion.

“I’m incredibly honored to accept this new position with the company that has become my family over the past 12 years,” Sattler said. “Book marketing has drastically changed since I first began my career, but I’m energized by the challenge of continually finding new and better ways of connecting readers with our uplifting products.”