I walked into a well-known chain of Christian bookstores in Bristol, England to enquire about the new biography of Francis Schaeffer. I couldn’t find the book on the shelves so I asked the attendant at the desk. The attendant asked for the details of the book and at the time I had forgotten the title so I said that it was simply the new biography of Francis Schaeffer.
The attendant looked a little confused and asked for a spelling. Fair enough – it’s not a common name really. But then they asked what he had done. I found out that then that they had not heard of Francis Schaeffer.
Francis Schaeffer has written 22 books, some of which have been very influential in Christian (and some non-Christian) circles – yet this book store didn’t have any titles by him nor had heard of Colin Duriez’s new biography on him. I’m not concerned about people never having read Schaeffer – I hadn’t until 3 years ago. What is more concerning is that a leading Christian bookstore which in my opinion has a responsibility to it’s readers to provide them with quality material, could not reference one of Christianity’s greatest thinkers of the 20th Century!
Our bookstores these days are filled with popular, enjoyable, easy-to-read works. If you look, there are some great books to be found here with depth and wisdom, oh yes, but they are far outweighed by what many see as spiritually-weak pop-books. On the subject of our reading as believers, Ravi Zacharias says this,
Is your own reading shallow or deep? The wonder that you will find in the shallow end can only be for a child. Swimming in the deep end is for the mature. If a follower of Jesus does not mature in his or her reading, the church could end up running the biggest nursery in the world.
Ravi Zacharias, Recapture the Wonder
So what is the responsibility of our Christian bookstores? Do they exist merely for profit, to shift as many products as possible? Or do they exist as resource-centers for the church to use so that we might grow in faith and maturity in Christ? The church in my country in so many ways is a nursery already. My hope is that as a church we will glorify our God with our minds, seeking to learn more to the glory of God in a humble act of worship.