Are you called to a Christian Bookshop ministry?
The best bit about running a Christian books and music shop – in case you feel called to have a go yourself – is meeting so many people from different backgrounds, experiences and different stages on their Christian journeys, says Douglas Macfarlane of Morpeth’s Lifestyle Christian Books and Music.
“We’re thrilled to be able to talk and minister and share with people – that’s part of a very much wider ministry than selling Christian books, although that’s sixty-five per cent of our business.”
Douglas and his wife Ruth started Lifestyle in 1997 and after fifteen years the next step for them is retirement, but they are praying that God will bring someone forward to take on the work and ministry they’ve built up. The shop and adjoining house are for sale.
“We’re called to serve the whole Christian Church – and individuals – in the Morpeth area, and we endeavour to support every denomination. We have customers across Northumberland and down into County Durham; Methodists, Baptists, Roman Catholics, Salvation Army, Church of England and more. We ran a bookstall for the diocese at the Alnwick Gardens event a few years ago.”
He reels off a list of local clergy who’ve been in this week and comments on the remarkable number of baptisms one of them is doing, judging by the number of cards bought. “When we opened we didn’t stock candles, but now we sell hundreds each month!”
The Macfarlanes hope someone will feel a strong call to pick up their ministry and take it forward. “There’s scope to develop internet sales, for instance. We don’t have a website yet, although we get a lot of orders by e-mail.
“Yes we sell books (and other products) but the listening, the comment, the advice, the impartial status, the prayer, the encouragement, and so much more is the real ministry we are in.
“A husband and wife team has worked for us and may well be the ideal combination, but there are clearly other options. We split our responsibilities between us as books and music, then cards and gift products.
Lifestyle is a successful business at a time when the Christian book world has taken a serious battering in recent years with the disappearance of the SPCK chain of shops with many independents, and the loss of a huge proportion of retail sales to the internet. How does Lifestyle succeed?
“You need a measure of flexibility in what you stock and to be prudent in what you buy,” comments Douglas. “Many Christian booksellers have gone to the wall because of imprudent buying. And many have pigeonholed themselves, so we put into practice our scriptural belief that as Christians we are ‘all one in Christ Jesus’.”
If you believe that this may be a ministry to which God has called you, then Douglas and Ruth would be pleased to hear from you, share further and arrange for a detailed visit.
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