Vibrant Reading Rooms

108050432_bbf76fd5fcVibrant Reading Rooms, by Patricia P. Wilson

Vibrant – pulsating with life, vigor or activity; responsive; brisk; bustling; humming; rousing; stirring; thriving; thronging; abounding; overflowing; populous; astir; alive; teeming

Quiet – marked by little or no motion; enjoyed in peace or relaxation; free from noise or uproar; serene; still; unobtrusive; conservative; speechless; wordless; secluded; asleep; dead; inactive; sleepy

I. Church Manual model – vibrant or quiet?
(From the Manual of The Mother Church by Mary Baker Eddy)

Reading Rooms Article XXI. Establishment. Section 1. Each church of the Christian Science denomination shall have a Reading Room, though two or more churches may unite in having Reading Rooms, provided these rooms are well located.

Librarian. Sect. 2. The individuals who take charge of the Reading Rooms of The Mother Church shall be elected by the Christian Science Board of Directors, subject to the approval of Mary Baker Eddy. He or she shall have no bad habits, shall have had experience in the Field, shall be well educated, and a devout Christian Scientist.

Literature in Reading Rooms. Sect. 3. The literature sold or exhibited in the Reading Rooms of Christian Science Churches shall consist only of SCIENCE AND HEALTH WITH KEY TO THE SCRIPTURES, by Mary Baker Eddy, and other writings by this author; also the literature published or sold by The Christian Science Publishing Society.

ARTICLE 23 Branch Churches. Teachers’ and Practitioners’ Offices. Sect. 11. Teachers and practitioners of Christian Science shall not have their offices or rooms in the branch churches, in the Reading Rooms, nor in rooms connected therewith.

ARTICLE 25 The Christian Science Publishing Society. Rule of Conduct. Sect. 7. No objectionable pictures shall be exhibited in the rooms where the Christian Science textbook is published or sold. No idle gossip, no slander, no mischief-making, no evil speaking shall be allowed.

II. Your model — vibrant or quiet? Based on the following definitions, how does your Reading Room measure up?

Establish – to bring into existence; to make firm or stable; to put into a favorable position;
to gain full recognition or acceptance of; to introduce and cause to multiply and grow

Have – to make the effort to perform; show; exercise; exhibit; to entertain in the mind; to cause to be in a certain place or state; to be competent in

Read – to become acquainted with; to look over the contents of; to receive or take in. Note: “study” is not a synonym for “read”

Room – an extent of space sufficient or available for something; a suitable or fit occasion or opportunity; freedom; capacity

Charge – having the qualities of a forceful leader; supervision or management
Exhibit – to present to view; to show or display outwardly especially by visible signs or actions; to have as a readily discernible quality or feature

Sell – to develop a belief in the truth, value or desirability of; to gain acceptance; to persuade or influence to a course of action; to give into the power of another

Thoughts to ponder:

Does the Manual imply that Reading Rooms are chapels? libraries?
Does the Manual imply that it is wrong or unpleasant to engage in the work of selling?
Are bricks and mortar essential to a RR?
Should RR workers be well-trained and skilled in the art to selling?
Does a vibrant RR count how many people pass by or look in the window?
Even if you have a big sign out in front, if people rarely come into your RR, is it truly established?

i.e., has it gained full recognition within your community?
How much does it cost to have a vibrant Reading Room?
How many workers does a vibrant Reading Room need?
How many products does a vibrant Reading Room need?
How many hours does it take to have a vibrant Reading Room?
How long does it take to change from a quiet/sleepy place to a vibrant one?
What does it mean to “walk a customer”? Does this happen in your RR? If so, why?

In the early 1900s, a Chicago RR, located on the 8th floor of an office building, consistently sold 4,000 of S&H a year, plus 15,000 Sentinels. Profits from sales covered all expenses including the librarian’s salaries. Profits were returned to the three sponsoring branch churches. Quiet or vibrant? Was it a fluke, or can it be repeated today?

A woman in Ghana ordered 240 copies of S&H and sold them out of her wheelbarrow. Quiet or vibrant?

A woman in Hawaii sold S&H out of her briefcase. Quiet or vibrant?

A mom and her two sons sold 13 copies of S&H at a farmers market. Quiet or vibrant? (See video on YouTube (P.S. The boys earned pocket money for their efforts.)

The Mother Church sells S&H from a 4-wheel cart located at an indoor shopping mall. Quiet or vibrant? 15 copies of S&H were sold at a Church Alive Summit in the Philippines. Quiet or vibrant?

For many more examples, check out and search for “Selling Science and Health”.

(c) 2013 Patricia Wilson – used with permission.
This article was used in a Christian Science Reading Room workshop presented by Patricia Wilson at the Philippines Youth Summit April 2013. Patricia served as a Reading Room representative for The Mother Church from approximately 1998-2002. In that capacity, she worked with about sixty Christian Science Reading Rooms from the East Coast states and Chicago metro area. She’s listed as a Practitioner in the Christian Science Journal and divides her time between Seoul South Korea and Florida.

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