This past Saturday I spent the afternoon with the managers and leaders of our church stores. It was a wonderful time of reflecting on all that God has done in these churches through their partnerships with CLC. Each store and each church is unique in the make up of their congregation and the impact that they are making in their local community. One factor that binds them all together is the commitment of the volunteers that are responsible for running the stores. Not only are these stores normally volunteer staffed, but they are also managed by passionate volunteers as well. It is amazing to see the ministry impact of the volunteers and these church stores.
As we talked about what God is doing in our stores, I was blessed to hear about the transformational impact that these stores and their volunteers are having on their church and their community. In one case, a book that the store was promoting resulted in a new ministry for couples being developed with the use of this resource. This new ministry is now seeing marriages strengthened and relationships growing more each week. This chain of events started with CLC placing the right book in the hands of committed volunteers who read it and talked about it in their store. One of the pastors got excited about the book’s potential and launched the ministry with the support of the resources provided by the store and its dedicated team.
When we first started working with churches and helping them with their church stores, I wondered how the concept of using volunteers would really work. Over the years, I have come to realize that volunteers who are called to the bookstore ministry and are committed to it is one of the keys to the success of our church stores. These wonderful people normally work full or part time in addition to the work that they do in our stores. They bring their professional expertise, combine it with a passion for the gospel, their church and books – ultimately creating a store that blesses much more than just their local church.
One other factor that I had not anticipated in working with our church store volunteers is the sheer joy that they bring to the work at hand. It is not always easy being an effective servant in a Christian bookstore, especially on a busy Sunday when many people are crowding into a small space with all kinds of questions and expectations. Inevitably the spirit that our team members (and yes, I consider our church store volunteers to be our team members) is one of service with a smile. Having done this for a while, I suspect that the smile is really the result of the inner joy that they experience as they help other people find that “key” resource that will potentially change that person’s life forever.
I honor our volunteer team members and look forward to working with many more as we seek to impact the world with evangelical Christian literature.