Excellence in the workplace isn’t a new idea. Any business that wants to thrive will strive for excellence to stay healthy. I believe that one core value our industry has in common is excellence in our work, not only to keep growing but also as an act of worship. We want to give our best to the Lord to honor Him.

Excellence is a topic of discussion on all levels at our store. Lately, it has revolved around what our industry offers in Christian fiction. Our fiction buyer, Chris Jager, is regarded as an expert in her field. This excerpt from her latest blog post challenges us to raise the bar in excellence:

“ … I have to say there are tons of really good Christian fiction [books]. Many have become friends of mine and sit on my bookshelves at home. I love them and recommend them … so I am not trying to throw out all of Christian fiction; [I just find] something missing.

“That [missing thing] is the book that is just a good story: something that isn’t trying to make a point, that isn’t trying to get me to learn Bible verses or listen to a sermon. Something that lets me wrestle with the moral dilemma or a character’s choices … a book where happily ever after just might be missing from the end of the story.

“I just finished a book that will soon be on my shelves here at the store. Overall it was a good read … yet conveniently the main character went to church every fourth or fifth chapter and we all got a lovely sermon. Sigh. It was [only] included so the main character could arrive at an epiphany that made sure we all had the plan of salvation. This story really didn’t need it, but somewhere along the line that is what Christian fiction has become. Only about the status quo. If it worked once, let’s continue doing it. Now again, let me say, we do need those books. People read them and love them. But there are others who want that in-depth story that they have to wrestle with more. I am having trouble finding that title … in the Christian market, but I am finding it in the secular market.

“My pleas are not just for authors, as I know authors who are or are trying to write books like this, but to publishers. Challenge us as readers. Make us question things and struggle with what characters do. It might even make us bump heads once in a while with other readers, but of course that is so much fun for us readers.” —Chris Jager, BBH fiction