As the year 2011 comes to an end today, I am in awe at all that God has done in my life and ministry. Many of us take time during this season to reflect on the past and I am no different. This year, however, I am going to focus on the future and share some of the things that I am looking forward to in 2012.
1. CBA’s Next 2012 in Atlanta – After several years of not sponsoring an event in January, CBA (the Christian Bookseller’s Association) is hosting a wonderful new event at the beginning of the year. For many years, CBA sponsored a variety of events from industry leadership gatherings to trade shows in January. Next 2012 reflects some of the new thinking and leadership of the trade association as the focus is on training, partnership and industry growth and development. It will take place in partnership with the Atlanta Gift Mart and the CTAI’s (Christian Trade Association International) trade show. The emphasis for the retailers that attend is cost effective training from both industry experts like Bob Negen and many practitioners from within the Christian retail and publishing world. I look forward to seeing this event take place on an annual basis from here forward as a means of renewed fellowship and encouragement as we jump start our new year together.
2. Liberia Re-Launch – after fifteen years of prayer, waiting and preparation, CLC is planning the re-launch of a bookstore ministry in Monrovia in 2012. We had a vibrant resource center in this capital city for 48 years prior to 1996 and had to temporarily suspend operations due to the resurgence of civil war and the looting and destruction of the bookstore itself. I had the the privilege of doing a a research trip in 2008 and will be returning in February with several ministry colleagues to make significant strides to finding the right location and begin the paperwork process with the government. Many moving pieces need to come together for this dream to become a reality and as always we are taking a leap of faith and depending on God’s unlimited resources.
3. CLC’s International Council in Panama – this event brings together the national leaders from the CLC ministries all over the world once every four years. It will be my second time to attend and I look forward to renewed friendship, fellowship and passion for the work that God has called us to in making evangelical Christian literature available to all nations. In 2008 it was held in Thailand and was a time of focusing on “seizing the day”. So much has happened in our world and ministry since then and we will once again seek the face of God for his direction in our lives. What a blessing it will be to mingle and and worship with such a diverse group of committed believers.
4. Stuart and Jill Briscoe – we will have the joy of publishing two new books by the Briscoe’s in 2012. The first one, Holiness without the Halo, comes out this Spring and a book by Jill will be coming out in the fall. This renowned couple have been writing and speaking around the world for many years and this will be our first publishing venture with them. What blessing it has been for us to extend the legacy of classic writers like Watchman Nee and Corrie ten Boom over the years and now we get to do the same with new authors like the Bricoes and Warren Wiersbe. As a special added bonus, Stuart will be our conference speaker in April and we will be hosting some public speaking engagements for him around the same time.
5. Retail Store on the Move – after twenty years of being located in the Market Square shopping center in Chestnut Hill, our flagship retail store in Philadelphia will be moving back to the mall that it had been in previously at Cedarbrook Plaza in Wyndmoor. This move will allow our team to re-envision what a Christian resource center should look like in the context of the world that we live in today and how it can thrive again. With a smaller rental burden and higher traffic, this new location should provide an exciting new place to extend our impact in the greater Philadelphia community.
6. Dynamic New Content – our publishing team is producing some of the most significant new books that we have ever worked on in 2012. As mentioned above, we have two books coming out by the Briscoes and we will also have our fourth books coming out from Michael Catt (pastor of Sherwood Baptist Church and Executive Producer of the movies Fireproof and Courageous) and Warren Wiersbe. In addition we are publishing a book with national renowned author and singer Renee Bondi and a high impact book, All or Nothing Discipleship by the writing team of Derek Cooper and Ed Cyzewski. All our books will be coming out in print and digital (e-book) formats simultaneously and some will be translated and published in other languages by CLC teams in various parts of the world.
7. Collateral Benefit – as is often the case, when disruptive new technologies like e-books arrive, both challenges and opportunities occur. For our ministry we have been dealing with the implications of reduced print book sales and the increase in e-books sales at the same time. One collateral benefit that we are just beginning to appreciate is the number of quality used print books that are now being donated in ever higher volumes to our Christian Book Link program. As some people are converting to reading all of their books digitally, they are now more willing than ever to see their print book libraries put to good use. We are able to recycle these books into needy countries like Liberia, India, Kenya and many others. We will also have a much larger selection of quality used books to offer in our retail stores in the years to come. We hope to send out several containers of these Christian Book Link books to CLC locations in developing countries during 2012 and will use some of them as a part of the restart of the CLC work in Liberia.
8. Live Events – as the result of renewed partnerships and the synergy developed over the past few years with key churches in the Philadelphia and South Jersey area, CLC will be hosting several new and ongoing live events in 2012. This spring we will sponsor our first ever women’s conference in partnership with America’s Keswick and continue a new public forum for CLC authors in partnership with WEC International called Conversations at the Castle. In addition, we will be hosting VBS workshops, author signings, and training workshops throughout the year. At the end of the year we will host an event to honor pastors and our annual donor banquet.
9. BAM Partnerships – the concept of Business and Mission is “all the rage” in the missions community these days. As mission agencies seek to re-envision their purpose for the twenty-first century, more and more are embracing the kingdom impact of doing business as mission. CLC, of course, has been a BAM agency for over 70 years now, long before the concept was at all popular or widely accepted. As a result of this renewed interest in doing BAM, I look forward to new partnerships with other mission agencies as we seek ways to utilize CLC’s worldwide asset base and deploy the next generation of missionaries.
10. Urbana 2012 – the year will close with one of the most important events in the world of missions. This gathering of college students in St. Louis (previously in Urbana, IL) has been used by God over the decades to draw hundreds and thousands of young people to commit to both short term and career service as missionaries. It was at this event many years ago, that I first felt God tugging at my own heart to consider what He might do through me if I surrendered to His will for my life. Little did I know that it would mean joining CLC several years later. There is no better way to end the year and prepare for 2013 than at the candle lighting service and sharing communion with thousands of enthusiastic world changers.