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How to get involved in the colporteur ministry
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You know the story: David "took his staff in his hand, and chose him five smooth stones out of the brook, and put them in a shepherd’s bag" (1 Samuel 17:40). With one of these stones David gained the victory over Goliath. Notice that David did not choose just any old rock; he chose the best kind of stones for slinging. He knew that God could not bless his efforts without wise planning and action on his part.
When it comes to selecting books to sell from door to door, we should be just as careful. Of course we want books filled with God’s truth. But many books contain truth. Which ones are best for door-to-door work?
Which titles? If you are starting out in the colporteur work, you might want to start with just one or two main books. For books with the greatest impact, choose a "message" book such as The Great Controversy, The Desire of Ages, or Christ’s Object Lessons, all by Ellen White. As you continue in your work, you may decide to add The Ministry of Healing, Patriarchs and Prophets, and The Acts of the Apostles. Books from other writers, especially ones that help interpret prophecy or explain the Bible, such as Daniel and the Revelation, by Uriah Smith, and Bible Readings for the Home are also excellent.1
Cookbooks, children’s books, and other health books can be useful in gaining the people’s interest, but you should never think of them as the most important books you sell. The message books are the ones that can bring souls to God’s Kingdom!
Which publisher? Many different publishers carry the same books. To make your choices even more confusing, the same book often goes by several different titles! As you consider the options, here are several things to keep in mind:
• Size. Many people feel intimidated by large, thick books. • Price. If you can get books cheaply, you can sell them at a lower price, which means more people will be able to buy them. • Attractiveness.Many people do judge books by their covers! A book with an attractive, inviting cover, easy-to-read text, and intriguing pictures almost sells itself! • Quality. A book that contains typographical errors and misprints is likely to be looked upon with suspicion by the reader. Be especially careful to check for missing pages, blurry print, text that disappears off the edges, and other obvious signs of low quality.
You may find it helpful to ask advice of someone who has had experience with literature evangelism in your area. My personal favorite is the MagaBook series, from Family Heritage Books. This series is known for its inviting appearance, soft yet durable covers, larger text, and enlarged quotations you can show and read to your customers. The books are also very affordable.
How much? If you shop carefully—and buy your books in quantity—you should be able to price your books at two to three times what they cost you. Sound like highway robbery? Not at all. In order to be able to continue your colporteur ministry, you must cover your expenses, including transportation costs. You want to be able to replace the books you sell and add new titles. You should also plan for special circumstances, such as someone who cannot afford to pay the set price but is genuinely searching for truth.
Here’s how it works: You might pay $3.50 for a book with a cover price of $11.95. A reasonable price to charge would be $7–10. Of course you will not ask for more than the price printed on the book!2
Choosing the right books is very important. Even more important is what you do next. In the following articles, you will find out how to prepare and what to say and do. There will also be all sorts of "inside information" for the beginning colporteur. Don’t miss each week’s Colporteur Connection!
2. It is also important to carry some very inexpensive literature. You should have at least one or two items that can be sold for $1 or less to use as "drop-downs" (this term will be explained later in this series). Steps to Christ is excellent for this. Also try to keep a few free items such as well-designed tracts or Bible study sign-up cards. Then, even if you do not make a sale, you can leave truth in every home.
Family Heritage Books PO Box 232 Wildwood, GA 30757 (800) 777-2848 www.familyheritagebooks.com
Remnant Publications 649 E Chicago Rd. Coldwater, MI 49036 (800) 423-1319 www.remnantpublications.com
Pacific Press Publishing Association PO Box 5353 Nampa, ID 83653 (208) 465-2500 www.pacificpress.com
Note: You may need to call for information on colporteur discount prices.
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