Ministry Monday: Christian publishing - why bother?
Posted by Rachel Jones, 25 Jul 2016
Rachel Jones, staff editor at The Good Book Company, reflects on what gets her out of bed and off to work on a Monday morning.
“Of making many books there is no end” (Ecclesiastes 12:12) — especially, that is, when you work for a Christian publishing company. There are a lot of Christian books out there. So why do we keep making more?
I started at The Good Book Company 2½ years ago as a wide-eyed Editorial Intern with a newly minted (and seemingly useless) history degree. TGBC had an office with 25 staff (plus three in America), a warehouse full of books downstairs and a big dream to fill the worldwide church with biblical, relevant and accessible resources. Since then I’ve become “Staff Editor and Publicist”—a job that comes with many hats, but mainly I work on a number of editorial and marketing projects, co-ordinate publicity and edit our blog.
Why Christian books?
Christian publishers exist to serve the church of Christ and support its ministry and mission. Expository preaching is (or ought to be) the heartbeat of the local church—and that is its rightful place! But as faithful as a preacher is—and as timeless as the truths coming from the pulpit—it’s unlikely that he can address in a year all the specific issues, heartaches and questions facing his flock day by day. That’s where Christian books can be so helpful. Our authors and editors work hard to search the Scriptures and wrestle with the specific issues—so that our books can guide others to the same truths.
Everyone at TGBC is plugged into their local church—serving as home-group leaders, Sunday-school teachers, leading in music, evangelism, preaching and serving as elders. It’s that experience which feeds into the resources we make, and the way we tell people about them. At the end of the day, we simply want to produce resources which will help our churches and our friends—and the thousands of others like them.
There is nothing more satisfying than seeing first hand people use the book and resources we publish—and which I might have had a hand in. So I smile extra-wide in the church prayer meeting when the pastor is reporting on the fruit coming from the evangelistic The World We All Want course. It’s thrilling to hear one friend tell another that Serving without Sinking is “the most important book I’ve ever read.” Or to hear that another friend who’s been signed off with stress from her ministry job is reading Zeal without Burnout and finding it deeply helpful. Quite moving to know that my efforts in an office here have contributed to people’s lives.
Equally, we want to help adults, children and families read the Bible for themselves. And we want to resource individuals and churches to reach out with the good news of the gospel, with books and courses which get to the heart of the gospel in a clear and compelling way—and which look as attractive as the message inside sounds.
A difficult balance
Something distinctive about TGBC is that it operates entirely as both a ministry and a business—but not as a charity. We’re a ministry which is seeking to further the gospel—and we plough profits back into that work. But there’s no other income stream paying staff salaries or paying the rent other than the books we sell. We don’t want to drain gift income away from gospel work. So it’s quite important that we sell enough books to meet our costs. But we’re also mindful that we ought not “peddle the word of God for profit” (2 Corinthians 2 v 17). Striking this balance in our work is difficult. We’d appreciate your prayer for wise choices, godly motives and a fruitful ministry for our books. And we’d love you to consider buying your resources direct from us, if you don’t have a local Christian bookshop to support.
Something I really admire about our management at TGBC is the relentless desire to get better. Making manuscripts better is what editing is all about, of course. But a publishing company is far more than the sum of its books. We’re striving for more efficient IT systems, more accurate picking and packing, more compelling design, more innovative ways to tell people about what we’re producing. We’re pursuing excellence at every level—because we know that it will better support the work of the gospel in local churches, keep book prices lower and glorify God.
One of the greatest joys of working at The Good Book Company is working as part of a Christian community. There’s something rather beautiful about a team of brothers and sisters working closely together in pursuit of the gospel—bringing together our gifts, personalities perspectives and energy to build up Christ’s church. There are, of course, some days when we frustrate each another enormously. But every day we laugh together. It really is a lot of fun!
Rachel Jones is Staff Editor and Publicist at The Good Book Company. She describes herself as an undercover Anglican, currently attending an FIEC church. She blogs occasionally on The Good Book Company website.
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