Christian Retailing

Harrison House pioneering author Charles Capps dies Print Email
Written by Jennifer LeClaire   
Wednesday, 12 March 2014 08:44 AM America/New_York

Word of Faith preacher’s books launched the charismatic publishing company and have sold millions

CharlesCappsAuthor and Word of Faith preacher Charles Capps died Feb. 23. He was 80.

Capps’ best-selling books, including The Tongue: A Creative Force and God’s Creative Power Will Work for You (both Harrison House), have sold millions of copies and are still in demand. The latter gave birth to the “God’s Creative Power” series, which alone has sold more than 5 million copies.

Capps was a retired farmer, land developer and Bible teacher who traveled extensively throughout the United States and several foreign countries sharing the truths of God’s Word. He taught Bible seminars for more than 35 years, emphasizing the authority of the believer, faith and the power of words.

Capps and his wife, Peggy, had roots in the rich farmland of Lonoke County, Ark. Having been raised by parents who were farmers, Capps began farming cotton, soybeans and rice immediately after graduating from high school and marrying in 1951.

Three-and-a-half months older than Capps, Peggy had to sign as the adult on his behalf when he wanted to take flying lessons at the age of 17. They joined an organization known as the Flying Farmers and gained experience going to “fly-ins” and national meetings across the United States.

Neither knew that this skill of flying would be such an asset later, when Capps began teaching personal evangelism in the 1960s. He spoke on the subject of soul-winning in churches not only in the U.S., but also flew his twin engine Piper Comanche to the Bahamas to teach students of Youth With a Mission how to share Christ with others.

After reading a book by Kenneth E. Hagin entitled Authority of the Believer, Capps’ life took on a new dimension of travel and ministry as he became known for his teaching gift and insight on the subjects of faith and confession.

Invitations to minister to the Full Gospel Businessmen’s Fellowship International began to pour in, eventually leading to the publication of Capps’ teachings in book form. The Tongue: A Creative Force and God’s Creative Power Will Work for You became best-sellers after Buddy Harrison, Hagin’s son-in-law, launched his publishing company—Harrison House—with the two titles.

Capps’ Concepts of Faith daily national radio broadcast and a weekly television broadcast aired on several networks, satellite and the Internet.

Capps is survived by his wife, Peggy, and daughters, Annette and Beverly.

Harvest House announces corporate restructuring plan Print Email
Written by Jeremy Burns   
Wednesday, 12 March 2014 08:43 AM America/New_York

Changes come as family-owned company enters 40th year of publishing

HarvestHouseNewLogoHarvest House Publishers has announced a strategic corporate restructuring plan designed to generate new sales opportunities and inject more innovation and efficiency into the company. In response to an ever-changing publishing climate, Harvest House is seeking to better employ the strengths of key personnel.

“God has gifted our company with incredibly talented people, and there were opportunities to implement their strengths in exciting new ways that will benefit the company and our authors as we continue to exercise a forward-thinking outlook in everything we do,” said Harvest House President Bob Hawkins Jr. “With this restructuring, I am confident Harvest House will realize new sales growth, an even more invigorating corporate culture and the achievement of the company’s short- and long-range goals and initiatives.”

The first of the corporate changes was the promotion of Vice President of Editorial LaRae Weikert to executive vice president/editorial. In her expanded executive role, Weikert, a 28-year veteran of Harvest House, will handle more corporate-level responsibilities as she applies her leadership abilities and market insights to the company’s publishing program.

In addition, Barb Sherrill, vice president of marketing, was promoted to vice president of product development. In this newly created position in the Editorial department, Sherrill will utilize her more than 25 years of industry experience to lead a team of editors in the acquisition and development of gift, youth and children’s books, and will oversee the growth of the company’s fiction line and the establishment of e-products.

In a key change to its infrastructure, Harvest House also combined the Interactive Media and Design department (IMD) with Marketing, creating the newly formed Marketing Services department. Bryce Williamson, manager of IMD, will now serve as director of marketing services. Williamson brings significant graphic design and marketing experience to this position, as well as an innovative mind-set from his eight years as graphic design manager.

Serving alongside Williamson is Aaron Dillon, former publicist, in his new capacity as marketing services manager. Dillon will assist Williamson in the development of marketing strategies and ensure their efficient implementation.

Other changes at the company include the promotion of Heather Green to manager/corporate development and strategy, and Jeff Marion to the position of covers project manager.

Harvest House is entering its 40th year as an independent, family-run Christian publishing house.

Worthy Publishing celebrates record year Print Email
Written by Jeremy Burns   
Wednesday, 12 March 2014 08:42 AM America/New_York

‘Jeremiah Study Bible,’ John Hagee lead with strong sales

WorthyPublishingWorthy Publishing Group (WPG) grew 84% in 2013 versus its already strong start of 64% growth from 2011 to 2012. In the company’s first full year of business, its list of trade books, along with new releases from imprints Ellie Claire, WorthyKids and Inspired, helped WPG establish an aggressive growth profile for the young publishing house.

WPG released The Jeremiah Study Bible right before Thanksgiving, shipping more than 140,000 copies at launch. The release was celebrated by a sell-out crowd at an event at The Theater at Madison Square Garden in New York City, featuring David Jeremiah, MercyMe, Kari Jobe and The Brooklyn Tabernacle Singers. This month, Dr. Jeremiah and the Worthy team celebrated a milestone achievement as The Jeremiah Study Bible hit No. 1 on the CBA best-seller chart.

“The enthusiastic support from LifeWay, Family Christian, Barnes & Noble, CBD [Christian Book Distributors], Walmart and so many others is deeply appreciated,” said Worthy President and Publisher Byron Williamson in a Feb. 3 statement. “At the current rate of sale, Dr. Jeremiah’s study Bible will soon surpass 300,000 in print.”

John Hagee’s Four Blood Moons, which had more than 375,000 copies in print by early February, became a New York Times best-seller shortly after its October release.

“Pastor Hagee’s book has captured readers’ imaginations with its message that ‘something is about to change’ on this earth,” Williamson said.

The coming series of four lunar eclipses predicted by NASA are signs from the heavens of things to come, according to Hagee.

Worthy titles slated for release in 2014 include books from authors including Jeremiah, Ted Dekker, Ralph Reed, Bob Coy, Les and Leslie Parrott, Bob Buford, Rudy Rasmus and Stephen Mansfield.

WorthyKids, a new division of WPG, recently signed an expanded publishing deal with DreamWorks Animation for additional rights to VeggieTales. New titles will be releasing throughout the year.

‘The Bible,’ ‘Grace Unplugged’ win Movieguide’s Epiphany Prizes Print Email
Written by Jeremy Burns   
Wednesday, 12 March 2014 08:39 AM America/New_York

Robertson family of ‘Duck Dynasty’ fame takes home pair of awards from 22nd Annual Faith & Values Gala

MovieguideAwards2014The Bible miniseries, Grace Unplugged and Duck Dynasty’s Robertson clan each won multiple awards at Movieguide’s 22nd Annual Faith & Values Gala. Held Feb. 7 at the Universal Hilton Hotel in Universal City, Calif., the awards show also featured a special performance by author and singer Joni Earackson Tada.

“What we’re celebrating tonight is you,” said Movieguide founder Ted Baehr to the audience in the award ceremony’s opening address.

People want great movies, and “great movies are great stories well told, with a positive worldview, and that are spiritually uplifting,” Baehr added.

The night’s biggest winners were Grace Unplugged and The Bible, which won the $100,000 Epiphany Prizes for Most Inspiring Movie of 2013 and Most Inspiring TV Program of 2013, respectively.

“What an exciting and humbling honor,” said Brad J. Silverman, writer and director of Grace Unplugged (Lionsgate Entertainment/Capitol Christian Distribution). “Our goal from the beginning was to make a movie that would entertain and inspire families—and to have Movieguide recognize us for doing just that is more special than I can put into words.”

In addition to the Epiphany Prize, Grace Unplugged took home two other awards: Best Film Actress for AJ Michalka and Best Film Actor for James Denton.

“This has been quite a journey for us, for my husband and I, as a married couple, said The Bible co-producer Downey, who along with Burnett, recently released the Jesus-focused full-length film Son of God in theaters. “We were very encouraged all last year.”

Downey also took home the award for Best Television Actress for her part as Jesus’ mother, Mary, in The Bible, a role she reprises in Son of God. Diogo Morgado, who plays Jesus in the miniseries, was runner-up for Best Television Actor. Morgado also reprises his role in Son of God.

Tada’s performance of the title song from Enthuse Entertainment’s Colonial-era drama, Alone Yet Not Alone, received an Oscar nomination in late January, only to have it rescinded by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences a week later. The rare nomination withdrawal was prompted by an alleged ethical breach by the song’s composer, Bruce Broughton, whose email to voters drawing attention to the song was viewed as inappropriate due to his position on the Academy’s executive committee. 

The singer pointed to the silver lining in the disappointing turn of events, indicating that the nomination and its withdrawal had helped bring into the public eye the movie and her cause—people with disabilities such as herself.

“God’s power always shows up best in weakness,” Tada told the Movieguide Awards audience.

Duck Dynasty’s “Till Duck Do Us Part” episode won the Faith & Freedom Award for television. Willie Robertson also won an award for his guest-starring role in the “Back to School” episode of ABC comedy Last Man Standing.

Influence Resources announces launch of new praise and worship music division Print Email
Written by Jeremy Burns   
Wednesday, 12 March 2014 08:38 AM America/New_York

Influence Music label follows in the vein of ‘We Believe’ release with works of ‘Holy Spirit-inspired creativity’

Influence Resources, an imprint of My Healthy Church serving “Spirit-empowered believers,” has announced the creation of a music division, Influence Music.

The launch of Influence Music comes on the heels of We Believe, a joint release produced by Influence Resources and Integrity Music, which debuted at No. 1 on SoundScan’s Praise and Worship chart in August 2013. The live worship album showcased original music from leading ministries and set the tone for the kind of work Influence Music will champion as a label.

Influence Music will be distributed by My Healthy Church, a leading provider of Christian church supplies, ministry resources and curriculum. Additionally, Influence Music will provide music publishing administration services for select churches and artists.

Sol Arledge, COO of My Healthy Church, says the timing of the launch is perfect.

“The amount of Holy Spirit-inspired creativity coming from our churches and universities is astounding,” Arledge said. “Combined with the marketing and distribution channels already developed by My Healthy Church, we have a truly unique opportunity to serve the church with outstanding worship music.”

The individuals at the heart of this effort are John Hartley and Malcolm du Plessis. Hartley, who also served as producer on We Believe, has worked in Christian music for decades, first as a member of British duo Phil and John, and later as a mentor and producer for artists like Leigh Nash, Aaron Keyes and Matt Redman.

A songwriter, band manager and pioneer of multicultural, multilingual worship, du Plessis also consulted with labels such as Kingsway Music, Integrity Music and Capitol Christian Music Group.

Influence Music’s first release is set for August.

LifeWay customers donate 200,000 Hindi Bibles Print Email
Written by Jeremy Burns   
Wednesday, 12 March 2014 08:32 AM America/New_York

International Mission Board partnership an ‘overwhelming success’

TheThomasProjectLifeWay Christian Stores set a goal last fall of donating 100,000 Hindi language Bibles across South Asia, but customers gave enough for twice that many.

“LifeWay has proven once again it is an organization with a heart for the world,” said Tom Eliff, president of the International Mission Board (IMB). “Never in our wildest dreams did we imagine The Thomas Project would be such an overwhelming success.”

Named for the disciple believed to have been the first Christian missionary to the region, The Thomas Project invited customers at LifeWay’s 186 stores to purchase a Bible for $5 to send to South Asia.

Considering similar initiatives in the past had sold considerably fewer Bibles, the original goal was a significant one for The Thomas Project, a joint venture with LifeWay Christian Stores, B&H Publishing Group and IMB.

This time, however, customers engaged more deeply with the project, giving enough for 200,000 Bibles. Churches continued to donate even after the initiative ended in November, with one church donating enough in January to print 1,200 Bibles.

“We are indeed grateful for the opportunity to partner in ministry with our customers and the IMB through The Thomas Project,” said Thom S. Rainer, president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources. “The response has been amazing, thanks to the Lord’s blessings and the tremendous generosity of our customers who truly have a compassion for the lost and confidence in the Word of God.”

A LifeWay employee mission team will go to South Asia this spring to help IMB workers distribute the Bibles.

“It is especially gratifying that some of our own LifeWay employees will be joining workers in the field to help distribute the Bibles that are so desperately needed,” said Tim Vineyard, vice president of LifeWay Christian Stores. “Our prayer will be that each Bible donated will have a life changing impact on the individuals who receive them.”

The mission team will visit locations strategically selected by IMB and work through local church leaders and believers to distribute the Bibles. Additionally, they will be involved in direct evangelism and training.

“This has been a year of immense blessings and we cannot keep it to ourselves,” said B&H Senior Vice President of Sales Craig Featherstone, who will be on the team to India alongside Bob Van Fleteren, B&H Vice President of International Sales. “Bob and I are so thankful to be able to see God work in this initiative and see the people of South Asia blessed with these Bibles.”

“God has honored the heart desire of both LifeWay and IMB to see the gospel penetrate the unengaged unreached people groups in South Asia,” Eliff said. “We can only dream what will happen as these Hindi Bible are distributed to the new believers and the lost, as well.”

LifeWay reports on retail and publishing growth Print Email
Written by Christine D. Johnson   
Wednesday, 12 March 2014 08:28 AM America/New_York

B&H Publishing called ‘powerful force in Christian publishing’

ThomRainerLifeWay Christian Resources President and CEO Thom Rainer praised the work of B&H Publishing Group and cited the growth of LifeWay Christian Stores in his state of the ministry report, according to Baptist Press. The report was presented at a Feb. 3-4 meeting in Nashville.

“B&H Publishing is an incredible story of growth,” he said. “B&H is now a powerful force in Christian publishing.” 

Rainer particularly noted the advances of the church resources division.

“Our church resources division has turned around a nearly 30-year decline in use of our ongoing Bible study resources in order to get more resources into more churches and the Bible into the hands of more people,” Rainer said. “And Ministry Grid, launched last fall, is the most massive resource we’ve ever produced with thousands of training videos for the local church available anytime, anywhere.”

Rainer also cited last year’s growth of LifeWay Christian Stores, which acquired the 17-store Berean chain and opened nine additional locations. There are now 186 LifeWay Christian Stores in 29 states.

“The Berean acquisition was an incredible endeavor that required cooperation by all of LifeWay—from everyone in the stores division to IT [information technology] and human resources and from finance to legal services.” 

Rainer spoke of his approach to his approach to leadership overall in the report.

“My consistent prayer since coming to LifeWay eight years ago is that I would lead LifeWay with wisdom,” Rainer said. “I don’t want to lead out of my own strength or ability, but with God’s wisdom. And I believe He has shown us His favor in so many ways.”

Rainer said his executive leadership team is “constantly asking honest questions about everything we do at LifeWay. ‘Is LifeWay doing what we should be doing—what God wants us to do?’ We want to be a leader instead of a follower—an influencer instead of simply a reactor.”

He also announced a new LifeWay partnership with Big Oak Ranch, a national ministry to abandoned and neglected children in Alabama. Employees are being given opportunities to donate and provide support for Big Oak.

Trustees at the meeting also approved a response to a motion from last summer’s Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) meeting that SBC entities report how they are assisting churches in “the challenge of ministry to those suffering from mental health issues.”

LifeWay plans to provide a variety of resources to assist individuals and churches in ministering to persons with mental health challenges.

LifeWay’s board also heard reports from the ministry’s executive leadership team, one of which pointed to the organization’s strong financial start to the fiscal year.

‘Mercy Rule’ gives Kirk Cameron second consecutive No. 1 DVD Print Email
Written by Jeremy Burns   
Wednesday, 12 March 2014 08:26 AM America/New_York

Family Christian exclusive joins ‘Unstoppable’ with chart-topping sales

MercyRuleKirkCameronKirk Cameron’s Mercy Rule has debuted as the highest-selling DVD in Christian retail in its first week. Released Feb. 14 by the actor’s CAMFAM Studios, Mercy Rule follows on the heels of Cameron’s Unstoppable, which was also the No. 1 best-selling DVD in Christian retail during its release week in late January.

Mercy Rule is available on DVD from Family Christian Stores, the film’s exclusive brick-and-mortar retailer.

Mercy Rule has truly struck a chord with Family Christian customers,” said Family Christian CEO Cliff Bartow. It is a movie that the whole family can enjoy, and its message of families supporting each other through life’s challenges really resonates with our customers.”

Mercy Rule tells the story of a father and son who are facing their own unique challenges. The father (Cameron) is working to save his business from a corrupt lobbyist. The son is trying to find his place on his Little League baseball team. Behind both is a loyal, encouraging family.

“Our hope is that Mercy Rule can be to families what Fireproof was to marriages,” said Cameron, who plays husband to his real-life wife, Chelsea, in the film.

The movie also includes a discussion guide that helps families who want to start conversations around the themes in the film.

“Christian families are clamoring for high-quality, faith- and family-friendly entertainment,” Bartow said. “Through our partnership with CAMFAM Studios, Family Christian looks forward to continuing to deliver the best in Christian entertainment to our customers for years to come.”

Family Christian will donate a portion of the sale of each Mercy Rule DVD to support the Camerons’ Camp Firefly, which provides seriously ill children and their families an all-expenses-paid vacation at the camp.

Cameron’s previous work Unstoppable, a joint production with Liberty University, was the No. 1-ranked DVD for two weeks after its release.

‘Son of God’ exceeds expectations in second-place opening Print Email
Written by Jeremy Burns   
Wednesday, 12 March 2014 08:26 AM America/New_York

Tie-in products available at retail for Gospel-based blockbuster movie

SonOfGodMoviePosterSon of God debuted to a $25.6 million opening weekend Feb. 28-March 2, far exceeding recent tracking estimates of $13 million and $22.5 million. This performance made the Jesus biopic the second-highest-grossing film of the weekend, just behind the Liam Neeson-fronted thriller Non-Stop, which also made its debut Feb. 28.

Produced by Mark Burnett and Roma Downey—the team behind The Bible miniseries—Son of God also managed to outperform the highly successful The Lego Movie, which saw its bid for a fourth consecutive weekend at the No. 1 slot come to an end.

Amid a groundswell of support from Son of God came out of the gates strong with an estimated $9.5 million in box office receipts opening day, just behind the $10.1 million Non-Stop earned that day. Though Son of God didn’t manage to overtake Neeson’s thriller, the biblical film’s earnings grew substantially throughout the weekend.

The Gospel-based drama’s opening weekend viewership was 62% female, with 82% being 25 years of age or older, according to Filmgoers gave the movie an “A-” CinemaScore.

With no major star driving the film’s appeal, an expansive grass-roots effort has led the push for Son of God. Christian retailers, churches, organizations, radio stations, bloggers and others have helped market the movie, buy out theaters for dedicated screenings and distribute tickets to patrons in the lead-up to the film’s release.

Though no DVD release date has yet been announced, several tie-in products are available. Current offerings include a Son of God novelization written by Burnett and Downey (FaithWords), Rick Warren’s Son of God: The Life of Jesus in You Bible study materials (B&H Books) and the Son of God: Music Inspired by the Epic Motion Picture audio CD (Word Entertainment/Word Distribution).

Provident Distribution moves away from store rep visits Print Email
Written by Ken Walker   
Wednesday, 12 March 2014 08:23 AM America/New_York

Distributor to serve Christian retailers’ music and DVD needs via Internet and phone following staff restructure

RandyDavisProvident Distribution has downsized its last three field sales representatives as part of a restructuring plan placing more emphasis on Internet and phone sales. The move is reflective of the industry-wide squeeze on the sale of recorded Christian music.

Technology is prompting other changes as well. Along with the staff reduction, Vice President of Sales Randy Davis said Provident is developing ways of participating in more live streaming of musical artists’ events and theatrical releases.

“Additionally, we continue to expand the functionality of our ‘Business to Business’ solution at to manage their accounts and order product at their convenience,” Davis said.

A former Provident sales rep who left the company at the end of 2013 had anticipated the move, saying he and other employees had observed a downward trend in music sales the past five years.

“It’s the nature of the industry and the economy,” he said, citing the fact that more music is available through online streaming and fans purchasing recordings on iTunes and other portals. “We all sensed they were going to phase us out. We didn’t have a timeline, but the signs were there.”

Provident opted to retain three telesales reps for independent Christian retailers, who also can use for online orders. In the past, if travel or other considerations made it more economical, the former rep said he would encourage retailers to use the ordering site after finalizing their selections. 

Although music sales had declined, Provident’s video business had increased in recent years. DVDs performed well in the home market, even with certain films that didn’t fare that well at the box office, the former rep said.

Still, the former rep sees trouble ahead for that segment of the market as well.

“I think you’ll see changes because of Netflix and all these streaming sites you can get online now,” he said. “That’s going to change people’s buying habits too.”

Although he thinks the impact of e-books affected traditional print sales much quicker, he traces the decline in recorded music sales to the advent of Napster in the late 1990s. 

Although legal challenges eventually forced the file-sharing service to stop offering free downloads, he said the early site still boosted the digital buying trend.

Provident isn’t the only Nashville distribution giant affected by these changes. 

“Capitol has cut down, and I don’t think Word has had a sales rep for the past three years,” he said. “It just got to the point where that’s what ended up happening.”

Provident Distribution is the Christian retail sales and marketing arm of Provident Music Group and Provident Films, a division of Sony Music Entertainment. It represents such artists as Casting Crowns, Third Day, MercyMe and Israel Houghton. Among the movie producers it represents are Provident Films, Affirm Films/Sony Pictures Entertainment and FoxFaith/20th Century Fox Home Entertainment.

Obamacare delay takes heat off mid-sized employers Print Email
Written by Jeremy Burns   
Wednesday, 12 March 2014 08:20 AM America/New_York

Contentious delays could help retailers with healthcare law’s implementation

Mid-sized employers have been granted another year before they will be legally required to offer health insurance to nearly all full-time employees. The Obama administration announced another delay in the employer mandate section of the Affordable Care Act—also known as Obamacare—pushing the requirement back to 2016 for companies with 50 to 99 full-time employees.

Larger companies—defined by the law as having 100 or more employees—also were granted a reprieve in the announcement. Though their implementation date remains Jan. 1, 2015—delayed by a more sweeping announcement in July from the law’s original 2014 deadline—large employers will only be required to offer insurance to 70% of full-time workers by that time, instead of the 95% originally mandated.

Small employers—those with 49 or fewer employees—will not be required to offer insurance or fill out any forms, but will instead be able to purchase health plans through new marketplaces created under the Affordable Care Act. The federal small-business marketplace, which was supposed to roll out in October 2013, has been delayed until the fall.

Though the administration’s unilateral delays have raised the ire of the law’s critics and proponents alike, the employer mandate delays offer some breathing room to employers still struggling to implement the law’s requirements.  Failure to comply with the requirements can carry steep fines, and with sections of the employer mandate still being questioned on legal and moral grounds—most prominently in the upcoming Hobby Lobby Supreme Court case dealing with the contraceptive portion of the mandate—the requirement’s delays will offer more time for employers and enforcers alike to better assess and implement the law’s changes.