As many of you know, I am the angelic/satanic/mad genius behind the Jesus 24/7 series published by The United Church of Canada.
Jesus 24/7 was actually the outcome of my Doctor of Ministry program at Fuller Theological Seminary, in which I analyzed the tradition of Christian Education in The United Church, and thought that some kind of re-orientation for adults to the basic Christian message was in order. On the one hand, it couldn’t be as conservative as Alpha, or no one in the moderate or liberal wings of the Church would use it, and that would make it a wasted effort. On the other hand, it couldn’t be as liberal as some of what our tradition has produced lately or there wouldn’t be any point to writing it, and that would have been to deny the specific calling of God that I heard on my life. So I tried to write something that would be faithful to the gospel in a style that would be gentler than many of us are used to using.
This “invitational” style seems to have worked. Jesus 24/7 is now in its third printing, out-selling any other commercial offering that the United Church Publishing House has produced in decades. So I followed the original Jesus 24/7 up with Jesus 24/7 Youth! which just seems to be getting some attention, and last year UCPH published Jesus 24/7 Guide to the Bible, which I hope in time will sell as well as the original.
I’m getting invited to sit in on groups around the Toronto area (happy to do it–no charge), often by ministers far more liberal than myself, and so far people seem pretty pleased with the material. If you’re reading this blog, you would probably enjoy the material, too, especially now that you know that I had to plow up the middle of the road to make an impact.
I would really appreciate your prayers for my latest project, which I think is the most important volume of the series. I’ve submitted a manuscript to UCPH entitled, Jesus 24/7 Guide to Spiritual Growth. Just like the other books, it’s a study-guide best used in small groups, with twelve chapters and all the familiar “What do you think?” sections. And just like the other books, the manuscript has been written, field-tested, and re-written to the best of my ability to make sure this is a genuinely usable resource.
This one, though, is aimed at reviving spiritual disciplines and practices, such as daily prayer and scripture reading, lectio divina, Christian meditation and fasting, so it’s a bit more of a stretch for most UCC folk. The decision to publish will be a mixture of sales of previous books, a sense of the market, and UCPH’s interpretation of its mandates in a time when head office–including the publishing department–is experiencing downsizing.
In case you’re wondering if this blog is pure, shameless self-promotion on my part, maybe it is, but I doubt it: I get about a buck a book, which means that my author’s royalties in any given year haven’t quite equaled my income-tax refund or my Ph.D. tuition bill. Like most of what you do, it’s a labour of love for my friends in The United Church.
And please hear me on this: if you’ve seen my stuff, and have comments to pass along, go ahead and let me know what you think. I’m probably going to write again, and I only want to write better books, for the glory of our God.