I stopped by the local Christian bookstore today because I needed to get a couple books for leadership that I’ve been looking for and I was hoping they carried them. As I walked around the bookstore, I could not find the “theology” section or the “church leadership” section either. There were, of course, rows of “Christian fiction” and sections dedicated to what I often describe as “Christian self-help” (i.e., Joel Osteen type of books). After searching through the bookstore, I noticed that things had been moved around a bit, so I asked the lady at the counter where the section I was looking for was.
Boy was I surprised to learn where the books I was looking for were now located!
In the past five years I’ve noticed something peculiar at this particular store. The section that holds all the theological, exegetical, and pastoral works has become increasingly smaller. It used to be a pretty decent section. I found some fantastic commentaries over the years there, along with works on philosophy, NT studies, and even excellent books on church leadership. But that large section of “mainline” shelving that used to be located fairly close to the front and most certainly in the “primary real estate” of bookstore has shrunk a lot. Apparently no one reads books on theology; they are too busy reading Joel Osteen’s Become a Better You. Thank God for Francis Chan’s popularity is all I have to say about that.
So where was the section I was looking for? In a small room located in the back that says “church resources” above the door. In that little room is a small shelf with all of the books related to theology, Scripture, apologetics, church leadership, and much more. It’s surrounded by Sunday School curriculum and certificates for baby baptisms and child dedications. There’s also some really outdated (yet wonderfully hipster) choir robes.
And yes, I’m super sad about that change.
I wish more people read theological books.
Luke is a pastor-theologian living in northern California, serving as a co-lead pastor with his life, Dawn, at the Red Bluff Vineyard. Father of five amazing kids, when Luke isn’t hanging with his family, reading or writing theology, he moonlights as a fly fishing guide for Confluence Outfitters. He blogs regularly at LukeGeraty.com and regularly contributes to his YouTube channel.
If it was @ Family Christian, the owners are not Christian and do not the see the need to stock unpopular books. Seriously, it is sad.
I share your concern, but I don’t think you’re seeing a dumbing down of the church, just that the popular mind is better served these days than it might have been in the past.
Then, without knowing what precisely you were looking for, or why, I rankle when Christians talk about ‘leadership’. For the church, the only game in town is ministry, and that exercised jointly and severally through the church. But then, maybe if churches have ‘leaders’ everyone else is just a follower (of whom?) and doesn’t need to bother with complicated theological things.