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 Role of 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–a warm greeting and in some cases, 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.
- Recruit volunteers to open the bookstore during the week
- Communicate hours and offerings via signage, parish website, and bulletins
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.
- Expand the marketing reach of the bookstore on external signage, social media, and in the community
- Ask the bookstore team for permission to hold small ministry 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.
- Submit 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 offer certain books or pamphlets, to inquirers and catechumens.
- Promote the bookstore during retreats, festival, 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.
Write out a brief review 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?