“The world has changed … Much that once was is lost …”

Many of us can relate to this opening line from The Lord of the Rings film trilogy. We can say with certainty the Christian products world has changed. We can no longer produce the product we desire, hang out a retail shingle, and people will come and buy. Much of the old ways and old models are lost.

But this should not give us reason to despair. The world may have changed, but our work is as important today as ever. We persevere through uncertain times because we believe in our shared mission to see lives transformed for Jesus. The mission is not negotiable. But the path at this point in our journey is unclear.

Change and loss, though, can often give way to opportunity we would not have seen had we continued along the path of the comfortable and familiar. With innovation and creativity now our constant companions, we look at our mission through new eyes—starting with what we know.

People still need Jesus. They come to know Him through relationships and resources that reveal who He is and how He can transform their lives. They come into our stores and buy our products because they aspire to be something more than the roles day-to-day life demands of them. What, then, is our responsibility to them? Clearly, it’s to be here for them and to journey with them through these changing times.

People have plenty of options these days to simply buy products—but who’s providing the place for them to become what they aspire to be? The faceless Amazon can’t look into someone’s eyes and show them the hope of Jesus. That’s our distinctive—our unique ability with the Holy Spirit’s help to put just the right book, gift, film, CD, Bible into someone’s hands because we listen to them, hear their heart, know our product, and give them an experience that brings them hope.

But this isn’t just a retailer’s mission—or a publisher’s or content creator’s. It’s our shared mission. None of us can deliver this experience in isolation.

We each have a different role to play, and our success in bringing the hope of Jesus to people and changing the culture for Him lies in our ability to look not only to our own interests, but also to the interests of each other (Philippians 2:4).

Just as our mission is shared, so are our challenges. Our responsibility is not only to our customers, but also to one another and to our industry as a whole.

This means being there for one another—drawing encouragement from being united with Christ, one in spirit and purpose (Philippians 2:2), and coming together to make our industry better. It’s simple: every one of us matters and our industry—as well as the mission we represent—gets stronger when each one of us is involved.

So, as Gimli in the final Lord of the Rings film sarcastically put it, “Certainty of death, small chance of success … What are we waiting for?” While his prospects were bleak, I believe we have an enormous chance of success as long as we remain true to the mission to which we were each called and to each other. His question, though, stands: What are we waiting for?

[quote]Our responsibility is not only to our customers, but also to one another and to our industry as a whole.[/quote]

-Curtis Riskey