Whether it is a rolling cart of books that comes out at coffee hour or a designated room and online store, the bookstore is a launchpad for both in-reach and outreach.
The Bookstore Ministry
Most likely your bookstore already has a dedicated volunteer or team whose role it is to manage inventory and bookkeeping, staff the bookstore, and become familiar with everything offered in order to assist customers and make recommendations. Many of these ideas are familiar to bookstore management:
- Display items in creative ways. For example, set up a sample prayer corner.
- Offer hospitality–coffee and/or tea–for patrons while they browse.
- Create a “Basics of Orthodoxy” display with introductory books about Christianity and Orthodoxy.
- Create a “Book of the Month” or “Author of the Month” display with staff/volunteer reviews.
- Establish a Summer Reading Program and use a theme or goal to motivate parishioners to plug into Orthodox literature during vacation months.
- Create a children’s corner, where children can sit and color or read while parents browse.
- Bring in art and gift items that support Orthodox Christian culture and way of life.
- Consider enlisting volunteers to open the bookstore during the week and advertise–on parish signage, in the local paper and on the website.
Role of the Missions & Evangelism Ministry
Your team can assist the bookstore team to reach a wider audience, recruit additional volunteers and subsidize or promote specific programs.
- Market bookstore and hours on external parish signage and website.
- Ask the bookstore team for permission to hold small meetings or book studies in the bookstore, if the store can accommodate it. This brings potential customers into the bookstore and takes advantage of the pleasant atmosphere of icons and liturgical items.
- Offer book reviews to the bookstore team and for publication in monthly newsletter.
- Recruit additional volunteers for reading and reviewing books.
- Set up a system allowing the bookstore director or clergy to freely give certain books or pamphlets, as appropriate, to inquirers and catechumens.
- Promote the bookstore during retreats or guest lectures with a corresponding display.
15 Books to Inspire – We asked clergy to name books that they frequently recommend to inquirers and faithful. You can use this list as a jumping off point for your core inventory, especially if parishioners are currently more accustomed to visiting the bookstore primarily for icons and gifts.
Coming soon! We will share brief reviews of books, starting with the 15 in the list provided above, that you can use to help would-be readers connect with the titles on the shelves. For example, you can print (or re-write by hand for a more personal feel) the information on small cards and place next to the book. You can publish them one by one in your monthly bulletin to highlight a book of the month. You could also make a display in the bookstore each month highlighting a particular topic, saint or author.
Brand New Bookstore?