In November I announced we had a little bundle of joy on the way.
Well, I’m excited (and a bit freaked out) to announce we’ve got a second little bundle of joy on the way: I’m under contract with InterVarsity Press for another book – this time a co-writing venture with Bob Hyatt. Bob planted The Evergreen Community in Portland, OR, serves as a church planting coach and also as a member of the Kairos Partnerships team – but most importantly, he is a good friend.
Bob Hyatt approached me this past summer during the annual Ecclesia Network church planters’ training week in Virginia and asked me if I ever have church planters or pastors ask me questions regarding leadership – specifically eldership. Yes, I told him. Quite regularly, in fact. He then asked if I knew of any resources specifically for church planters and missional pastors on eldership.
I drew a blank.
“That’s exactly the point,” Bob said. “There needs to be a resource specifically for those who are seeking to prayerfully develop elders as they cultivate faith communities remaining on mission.” This made sense, as Bob and I both reflected on our own experience in planting: other than the New Testament text, we had little direction, guidance or practical help in developing, recruiting, equipping and installing elders – nor did we know where to go to find any resources on the topic.
The New Testament was clear on some things, but not on others. What did elders do exactly – not in theory but in practice? How do we pick them when we start out? How long to do they serve? How many elders should a church have? How did they interact with the body of the church? Are they different than a Board of Directors – if so, how? How often should churches hold elder meetings? And how exactly should you spend your time in elder meetings? We know they are necessary, but can these elder meetings actually be full of joy, hope and anticipation? And how many of these answers are set in stone and how many of them are deeply dependent upon the context, size and personality of the local church God has created?
Bob quickly convinced me a co-writing venture would be a good fit, as we both have been blessed with great elders in the process of our church plants and have both content and experiences to share with others. Later that week, Bob and I sat in the garden of the retreat center for an entire afternoon and developed a significant focus of ideas of what a project like this might look like.
Shortly thereafter, I approached my literary agent about this and he was quite excited about the idea. He began shopping the proposal around and we landed, again, at InterVarsity Press (the publishing house I’m currently working with for The Epic Fail Pastor project).
Tentatively, this project is called Eldership in a Missional Church (though the title quite possibly could change somewhere in the process). Though it is a niche book, it is something needed by many pastors and church planters – either in new church contexts or those trying to ‘right the ship’ when it comes to healthy leadership structures in their churches.
I told my wife yesterday the more exposed I am to IVP the more impressed I am with the types of books they are publishing in addition to the professional and caring touch they provide to their authors. Bob is impressed as well. The manuscript draft is due to our editor in early fall (which is good, because I have plenty of other writing at the moment).
I feel three emotions as I think about this writing project:
- I’m thrilled. Writing a book is a thrill (not during the process, but when it is completed). In some ways, I still can’t believe I get to invest my life in communicating things that matter significantly. I am thrilled (and hopeful) because we both sense this has great potential to be a resource for the Church at large for quite some time. Knowing that a resource like this would have been beneficial for both of us as we started, we want to share a great deal of our experiences and convictions along the way in a ‘what we wish we knew when we started’ posture.
- I’m whelmed. I’m not overwhelmed – just whelmed. As I said, with two projects on the docket, I feel the heat of the fire under my rear intensifying. I feel the pressure (which is good, I think) to create content clearly – and with a deadline.
- I’m thankful. I love writing because I have a passion to teach and writing is teaching on paper. I am grateful for the opportunities to write for a publishing house that trusts in and believes in these two projects and who sees how they have the potential to serve the greater good of the Church. I’m thankful to be working with Bob on incredibly purposeful work. He is an insightful leader, a compassionate pastor and enjoyable friend, in spite of the miles, so any excuse to work with Bob I’ll accept gladly!
Bob and I would appreciate your prayers throughout the writing process. We want to speak on the issue where context can be helpful without overstepping our bounds on what the Scriptures have made clear. Which means we need a great deal of wisdom. We would appreciate James 1:5 prayers on our behalf over the next several months.