Last week I asked you to pray that I could complete the book, Your Church Is Too Small. Thanks to all of you who supported me in completing this project. Today, November 5, I will deliver 21 chapters, and various other parts of the book (acknowledgments, introduction, glossary, etc.), to my friend Sue Taylor who will then put the various Word files into one continuous large Word file with all the notes properly arranged at the end of the book. By this process the book will be properly formatted and ready to give to the publisher. If all goes well I will mail a hard copy and electronic file to Michigan by no later than next Monday.
The other really good news, in relationship to this project, is that Zondervan's publications committee voted on Monday to publish the book in 2009. (I did not seek a contract until the book was all but done, something I had not done in the past. I wanted to write what I had a deep passion to communicate and not what anyone else suggested that I write.) Thus I will soon sign a contract with Zondervan to release the book next year. What now happens is both interesting and extremely important. The text will be corrected, edited for style, worked over by several people at Zondervan, and then given back to me at several points. The design people will also create the cover art. The editors and marketing folks will work on the subtitle. One of the problems with my title is that some might see it as promoting a "church growth" perspective, which it is not. This makes the subtitle very important.
Another part of this publishing process is to get the book into what is called "galley" form. This is an unfinished, but significantly edited, (almost final) copy. This copy will then be sent to a number of leaders to write endorsements for the book. These endorsers will include leaders from all three of the great Christian traditions: Orthodox, Roman Catholic and Protestant. Pray for these endorsers that God will lead us to the right men and women. Another major decision will be to find the right person to write the foreword. This will likely be a hugely important choice.
Along with this editorial process Sean McCallum and I will be building a Web site to be found (eventually) at www.yourchurchistoosmall.com. This site will go live when the book comes out in late 2009. This site will include a large amount of important material not found in the book as well as links to other sites that deal with similar content. This site will feature video and audio blogging and a way to interact with the book and other readers from all over the world. I am prayerful that this new Web site will become a major venue for the major ideas found in this book. I believe the book can truly have an international impact via this means.
Sometime in early 2009 I will meet with the marketing and sales staff at Zondervan. In this meeting I hope to share my heart and get them excited about the book and who might read it. This will also be an important moment in the whole process.
The thesis of the book is that we need a new reformation rooted in what I call missional-ecumenism. This "new" ecumenism would unite us spiritually and relationally in fresh and personal ways that could well become an instrument of God to spread the message of Christ's kingdom far and wide. All of this is developed in a narrative that tells my own story and interacts warmly with a number of people and events over the last twenty years or so. (The next to last chapter is filled with stories of people and churches that have followed the thesis I present in the book.) The reading level of Your Church Is Too Small is not academic and what academic arguments are made in the book are simply defined and clearly written. My target audience is not professors and scholars but ministers and church leaders of all backgrounds. The book targets evangelical Protestants directly but it will be read with much joy by many Roman Catholics who share the same vision. There is not a shred of anti-Catholicism in the book. I also interact with the Orthodox very respectfully and with profound appreciation, even using doctrinal ideas from the East to make several important points about the Trinity and the divine energies.
Following the release of this book in late 2009 I will speak on the thesis of the book at seminaries and churches as widely as possible. I will be open to interviews, book signings and various public events to hopefully begin a serious conversation about my thesis. I humbly ask for your prayers for all of this process. There are many great books on missional church thinking and even more on ecumenism but none quite like this one, designed as it is for everyday believers to get into this subject with both their mind and heart.