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.)
Many 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.
Let me just start here: In my opinion, the Christian publishing industry is NOT 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 a freedom to talk about every single aspect of life, from relationships to finances to health to business practices, in a way that includes the Biblical perspective and addresses the daily, moment-to-moment struggle to live this life of faith.
Within that definition, there’s plenty of room for questions. How much freedom? you may ask. And all the other questions about what’s allowed and what’s not, whether to write to believers or non-believers… we can discuss all of those. But what I want you to keep in mind is how incredibly 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.
The fact that CBA exists as a specialized niche within the larger publishing arena is not a negative in the least. 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; and most of all, how cool that’s it’s totally your choice whether to be involved in CBA publishing or choose to target ABA publishers instead.
Send me your questions about CBA, and I’ll do my best over the next few weeks to supply some answers.