Blogger: Rachelle Gardner
One of the most common questions I hear about CBA is why it exists in the first place. (CBA means “Christian Booksellers Association” but refers to the entire Christian publishing industry including publishers, authors, agents, bookstores, etc.)
Some are concerned that it means Christians are trying to stay set apart. Others wonder about the value of “preaching to the choir” when perhaps we should be out evangelizing to non believers. Many couch the questions in negative terms, like wondering if the point of CBA is to keep Christians insulated from the world in some kind of a bubble that needs to be burst.
In my opinion, the Christian publishing industry isn’t about keeping Christians insulated, safe, set apart, or in a bubble. It’s not about limiting your ability as a Christian writer to write whatever you want or feel called to. In fact, Christian publishing is about the opposite:
It’s about freedom.
The Christian publishing industry began with companies who published Bibles; then came the need for books to help people understand the Bible. The rest of the Christian publishing business grew out of the need to have a place for Christians to write freely, honestly, and openly about all aspects of the Christian faith.
Rather than look at CBA as a limiting, stifling place, it’s better to understand it as a place of amazing freedom to write candidly about life in Christ, life based on the precepts of the Holy Bible, life lived in pursuit of the God of that Bible. There is freedom to talk about every aspect of life, from relationships to finances to health to business practices, in a way that includes the Biblical perspective. Christian books address the daily, moment-to-moment struggle to live this life of faith.
But we still have questions.
How much freedom? What’s allowed and what’s not? Should we write to believers or non-believers? We can discuss all of those. But the most important thing is how fortunate we are to live in a society in which a CBA is possible. The CBA represents our truly awesome liberty to openly discuss our faith amidst an increasingly secular society.
CBA gives Christians a free and open forum for discussion; and gives seekers and nonbelievers a place to turn for answers to their questions about the Christian faith.
Do we need our own specialized niche?
The fact that CBA exists as a specialized niche within the larger publishing arena makes sense. Everything in our culture is specialized. If I want some basic sporting goods like a basketball or a kids’ bike, I might stop by Wal-Mart. But if I want some new skis or a high-quality mountain bike, I’m going to the ski store or the bike shop. I appreciate the fact that there are manufacturers and stores who specialize in exactly what I want.
By the same token, I appreciate that there are manufacturers (publishers) and stores who focus on the Christian reading materials I want.
How fortunate we are to be able to find a book on just about any topic from a Christian perspective! How cool that’s it’s totally your choice whether to be involved in CBA publishing, or choose to target ABA publishers instead.
What are your thoughts on CBA as part of the larger publishing community?
Image: Our lab Reagan with his head on my Bible.