Saturday, October 06, 2007

Selling Books in the Church: Joy in Exhaustion

This is the sixth post in a six part series on establishing and maintaining a church book table, stall, or store. Many of the ideas and experiences are based on the bookstall at Capitol Hill Baptist Church in Washington, DC where I have been blessed to serve as Deacon of Bookstall for over two and a half years. This post details a small part of God’s goodness to me during my service as Deacon of Bookstall at Capitol Hill Baptist Church.

Why Am I Selling Books at Church?

I first volunteered to serve at the bookstall when the Deaconess who oversaw the area prior to me requested help with inventory. Nearly every Sunday afternoon, I would count all of the books. This took a couple of hours at first, but closer to an hour as I became more familiar with the books and their locations.

Shortly before my predecessor’s term ended (Deacons and Deaconesses are not eligible to serve consecutive terms at CHBC), I was asked to consider serving as the Deacon of Bookstall. I didn’t fully understand the time commitment, and I was entering my final semester of law school, but I agreed because I was eager to take advantage of an opportunity to serve.

Even without deep reflection, my heart is full of joy when I think of serving at the bookstall. Looking back more closely on nearly three years of service in this role, I see great evidence of God’s goodness to me. At times, law school exams, the bar exam, or busyness at work made bookstall service seem an unwise use of time. But, God has been pleased to upend those thoughts in several ways.

First, God has encouraged me to be faithful by allowing me to see the faithful examples of many of my fellow believers. It’s hard to be too impressed with my occasional service when it often gave me opportunity to see the more demanding and sacrificial efforts of others. Sure, I may have been receiving book orders for a couple of hours on a Thursday night, but as I left the Elders were just assembling to spend hours praying for and otherwise serving our local body.

Second, God has encouraged me by the openness with which others have shared the ways God has blessed them through the bookstall. It’s hard to begrudge showing up for church an hour early to put stock a few books when you learn that some of those books are being purchased for and carried to believers around the world or unbelieving friends and family members around the country. It’s hard to jealously guard my time when a brother shares the way God has exposed to him the sin that has been damaging his marriage.

Third, God has taught me through the content of the books we sell. I’m a bibliophile and it’s hard for me to be around good books without wanting to make them mine. So, I’ve purchased and read many of the books on our bookstall. And I’ve benefited mightily from them.

Sure exhaustion sets in when you’re pricing and shelving the three hundredth book of an order. But it’s an exhaustion that brings joy; it’s the joy of a job well done, of seeing one small part of life well spent.

J.A. Ingold is Deacon of Bookstall at Capitol Hill Baptist Church in Washington, DC. You can see what he’s reading at Bookpress.


Jason Button said...

Thank you for writing these articles! I've been helped by them.

from South Africa said...

Thank you for taking the time to write these posts. They have encouraged me to start a book table at our church