Though the Christian Retail Only (CROnly) effort is unprecedented in its scope and support, it isn’t the first time Christian retailers have taken part in an exclusive program that has boosted their revenues and multiplied ministry. Tyndale House Publishers has sold around 3.6 million special edition Operation Worship Bibles solely through Christian stores since launching its campaign in 2008.

Andy Butcher

Operation Worship’s initial goal was to sell 100,000 camouflage-covered Bibles in whose front pages customers buying a copy for $4.99 and then donating it could write a personal note to a deployed soldier. But the response far exceeded Tyndale’s expectations.

“It was a win-win,” says Tyndale Associate Bible Publisher Blaine Smith. “It made a big difference for a number of stores—one chain told us that it saved their year—and it was a blessing for the recipients.” The program spawned similar Bible-donation campaigns for schools in Ghana, crisis pregnancy centers, and prison ministries.

If there is a lesson for CROnly from the success of these programs, Smith believes it’s the ministry emphasis. “The cause is everything,” he says. “Any time we can put something in someone’s hands where they can reach out and touch another life, that’s just a win. It’s part of the whole God’s-word-doesn’t-return-void thing.”