I recently received a Christian bookstore catalog in the mail, and so I began to flip through its pages, naturally. One thing I noticed was how large the Bible section was. Among the many standard translations, KJV, NKJV, NIV, TNIV, NAS, CEB, ESV, RSV, NRSV, there was a glut of niche market Bibles: pew Bibles in various translations, outreach Bibles, the KJV 1611 Bible, the Personal-Size Giant-Print Reference Bible, the Super Giant-Print, the Large-Print Thinline Bible, the Life Application Bible, the KJV Evidence Bible, the KJV Companion Bible, the KJV Thompson Chain-Reference Study Bible, the KJV Matthew Henry Study Bible, the Dake Annotated Reference Bible, of course the Old Scofield Study Bible, the ESV Study Bible, the ESV Reformation Study Bible, the NKJV Scofield Study Bible, the Ryrie Study Bible, the Hebrew-Greek Key Word Study Bible, the Archaeological Study Bible, the Life Principles Daily Bible, the Charles F. Stanley Life Principles Bible, the Maxwell Leadership Bible, the Max Lucado Life Lessons Study Bible, the Nelson Study Bible, the Chronological Study Bible, the MacArthur Study Bible, the NLT Study Bible, the NCSB Study Bible, the Apologetics Study Bible, the Fire Bible, the Life in the Spirit Study Bible, the Quest Study Bible, the NIV Study Bible, the Daily Bible in Chronological Order, the NIV Women’s Study Bible, the New Men’s Devotional Bible, the Couples’ Devotional Bible, the Witness Bible, the Soldier’s Bible, the Woman’s Study Bible, the American Patriot’s Bible, the Start Bible, the Message, the Message Remix 2.0, the NLT New Believer’s Bible, the NLT Life Recovery Bible, the Amplified Bible, the Amplified Parallel Bible, the Adventure Bible for Children, the Backpack Bible, the NIV 2.52 Boys Bible, the Seek and Find Bible, the Teen Study Bible, the Metal Bible, the Bible in 90 Days Bible, the One-Year Bible, the Daily Walk Bible, the Serenity New Testament, the Here’s Hope New Testament, the Geneva Bible 1560 Edition, the Complete Jewish Bible, and the Essential Evangelical Parallel Bible.

I really wonder how many Bibles are purchased each year and how many of them sit untouched? As a pastor, I would go on pastoral visits and made a point not to bring a Bible with me. When I wanted to refer to a passage, I would ask the people I was visiting for their Bible. I wanted to see where the Bible was kept—in the car, by the nightstand, on a shelf, or could it even be found? In other words, do we even read the Bibles we already own?

Another thought crossed my mind in terms of how marketing and the desire to turn a profit is shaping the church. When God gave his people his holy word, he did not divide it up according to market demographics. Yet, how much influence do publishers have upon the church when they create a Bible that is not for the church but for one small niche of the church, teens, boys, girls, women, men, soldiers, etc? How is a minister supposed to preach a message to the whole church if people come in with expectations created, not by the Word, but by marketing executives? Sometimes I think it would be a very good thing for Bible sales to drop, not because people should not buy Bibles, but because they should read the Bibles they already own. They should give the extra Bibles they have to people to whom the witness.