Why is the missional church NOT producing much literature for new Christians?

This is a huge question for me. As an observer of new religious movements I am very conscious of how much of NRM literature is aimed at newbies. When it comes to Emergent and Missional books though, by and large they are aimed at either (a) missional leaders or (b) post-evangelical Christians looking for new kinds of Christianity. There is so little out there for new Christians that from time to time I contemplate writing something myself out of shere frustration. The body language is very disturbing if one chooses to look.

28 thoughts on “Why is the missional church NOT producing much literature for new Christians?

  1. We hope to remedy that a little with Generate 🙂 I think the telling of our stories is the best way to embrace new Christians and provide discipleship. Plus, Generate will be much more cost effective and therefore, hopefully more egalitarian (pardon my little pitch)

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  2. You know, I sort of suspect it’s a publishers thing rather than a “being written” thing.
    And it’s not really even limited to new Christians. The market for emerging/missional, oddly enough, is other missional leaders. And so books get published that are directed towards other leaders. People outside these leadership conversations just have no idea about all the splits, and controversies, and whatever.
    But, they also don’t, I suspect, buy books. Well, that’s not entirely true. The Shack is a major bestseller. Probably the most influential theology book of the last five years or more.
    It’s not missional or emerging per se, but it does touch on key themes, and does it without being self-referentially part of some movement.
    I think that’s the direction to be had.
    I wrote my book, It’s a Dance, with an eye towards outside-of-leadership Christians. But, again, a problem came in that new Christians or non-church-leader Christians don’t hear about the books or the magazines or whatever except from their pastors and leaders. The Shack is a huge exception of word of mouth. So, to get a market, to get influence, it seems a book has to, first, get a pastor excited who then helps spread the message. But that’s a totally different audience–pastor and new Christian–making for a really difficult task.
    There’s a huge audience out there looking for exactly what you’re talking about, but the Christian publishing world seems to have to put everything through 5 levels of filters to get anything made and marketed in a way that would finally get out to the people.
    That there are exceptions is a sign of hope. And those exceptions are worth looking at more.
    Personally, I think we need to have less emphasis on leadership training for everyone, and more on creative writing, filmmaking, etc. But, that’s not the sorts of things that people in Christian leadership are themselves interested in, so they don’t, even in missional/emerging circles, find the space for letting others find those voices in a public way.

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  3. Patrick, you see, I don’t quite buy that because I see all sorts of stuff for new Christians on the bookshelves from attractional style churches, from calvinists and charismatics and the like. And those are exactly the sorts of churches that are growing out here. So I have to put two and two together and wonder.
    If missional leaders see other missional leaders as their primary market, I have to question if they can be considered to be leading by example. I don’t want to overgeneralize, I know some are actually engaging with the non Christian and new Christian market, but the proportion seems all out of whack to me.

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  4. Pre-S. not P.S. I wrote the following while you were posting your comment, Matt. I agree with a lot of what Mak, Patrick, and you have all said. I think the situation is complex because we’re in a shift in publications-communications that parallels the shift in paradigms from traditional and pragmatic to holistic. I watched first-hand how slow the Christian publishing industry was on the uptake with so-called GenX ministry, which transmuted into postmodern ministry, which transmorphed into emerging/Emergent and missional. There are reasons why they do (or have to) go primarily with what has enough numbers to keep them afloat – if their business fails, so does their ministry.
    Anyway, I think what will emerge is a parallel grassroots culture to the traditional Christian publishing culture, and it will include a lot more hypermedia, print-online-media systems, and who knows what else to help disciple experientially beyond just printed words. This could actually become the fulfillment of what started “emerging” in the 1980s and ’90s from Christian publishing: “cross-over books” where Christian authors write spiritual materials for secular audiences. Maybe that’s a way hopeful authors who are missional could contextualize their stuff for industry agents and publisher reps: it’s cross-over material.
    Okay, on with the comments as I wrote them off-line while you were commenting on-line:
    Since you asked, here are some thoughts on your question, Matt. Since it’s important for this context, I’ll state that, since the mid-1980s, I’ve both worked around the Christian publishing industry as well as tried to get stuff published. Also, interesting that the last time I taught at a Christian writers’ conference was 2003 and my subject for a two-plus hour seminar was: Writing to Disciple Postmoderns: (Part 1) Topics, Types, and Cautions; (Part 2) Structures, Styles, and Formats.
    First of all, I suspect there is more missionally-oriented literature for new Christians available than we’d see at first glance. However, it is not in books but “published” or provided elsewhere. It’s on blogs, ezines and newsletters, photocopies, internal training materials offered to those in the program, and other ways that bypass the traditional Christian publishing industry version of rights and royalties, agents and editors, promos and remainders.
    Second, I have to wonder if those who become Christians through the influences of missionally-oriented everyday disciples are more likely to want life-to-life training instead of a book. Wouldn’t missional be a more organic, customized discipleship that depends on others listening and suggesting relevant materials on faith and practice? Not saying that books are irrelevant, but two flaps do not constitute two ears.
    Also, if my sense of the overall direction of “missional” is anywhere close to accurate, disciples in this movement are more likely to engage in an action-reflection-theology learning model instead of theological/theoretical-reflection-action. This means immersion learning experiences using all kinds of learning style preferences other than just through the written word. A crucial implication is that maybe more materials are needed to “train the discipler” than to expect disciples to learn individually, on their own, by reading a book. If that same book were part of a system that involved relational mentoring, it’d be different. But then, that means Christian publishers would have to be willing to publish integrated sets of books (for facilitator and participant), rather than one-off versions.
    Third, with the economic downturn, it appears that getting a book published through traditional means of Christian publishing requires even more than ever that the author have an exceptionally strong pre-existing “message base” and/or “market share.” In other words, be a superseller superstar. In some recent communications with a literary agent,
    Also, I’m not sure the Christian publishing industry is ready to paradigm shift from a more didactic approach that emphasizes information and principles, to the more storying approach that embodies both principles and practices. And yet, the MISSIONAL movement is likely to find some substantive material already available from cross-cultural MISSIONARY work where such storying has been used increasingly for at least 15 years.
    This doesn’t mean that Christian publishing industry people are insincere or only in it for the money. No … it’s just a difficult industry to work in for multiple reasons. Part of the sluggishness is inherent in the kinds of institutions they are and work with. (Here I am thinking of a particular tool futurists use in analyzing cultural changes, and consider that the three slowest-to-change social institutions are – in this order – political, educational, and religious.) It just is what it is, and if the religious institutions of churches and denominations are slow to change, then publishing for those institutions is even slower. If a publisher puts out something that is too far ahead of the curve of what institutional leaders are ready for, the book will fail. Get too many of those, and the company fails. (I recall a statistic from the mid-1990s that in all book publishers in the US – secular and Christian – 93% of ALL books published that year either broke even or lost money. Which means the other 7% kept things afloat.) So, the changes to publish missional materials for new disciples are likely to occur outside that system.
    Final thought: In terms of social movement dynamics, my guess is that some missionally-minded practitioners will be called to the grassroots micro-task of producing such materials for new Christians and distributing them mostly outside of traditional means. Others, meanwhile, are called to the macro-task of helping those who are ready to transition to a missional mindset, and others to provoke the non-ready to hopefully become more ready. Those involved with the macro-task have to span both the older traditional and pragmatic paradigms and the newer holistic paradigm. Which would explain the emphasis in macro-task materials on thought leaders, theory, ideation, etc. etc. – because theirs is a cross-cultural or intercultural discipleship task. Meanwhile, those who write holistic-paradigm missional materials have less stress if they stay out of the macro-task.
    And so, my holistic-paradigm friend Matt, could it be that because you have the question, you are indeed being called to serve as partner in the answer?

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  5. Brad
    I accept that there are hurdles to publishing (I am friends with a few authors who’ve talked about this) and I accept that life-to-life training is more important than book reading in the process of discipleship (it certainly is in my ministry). But what I have trouble accepting is that, when new Christians are after a book (and I find a lot of them are at some point), I almost invariably have to refer them to something written by Calvinists or Charismatics in traditional churches as they are just about the only ones who seem to be addressing the needs of the ‘new Christian’ or ‘not yet Christian’ market in any way, shape or form. I find I am very uncomfortable with this, as their styles are often very formulaic and context insensitive at times, but the irony seems inescapable. I look for missional equivalents and they are just not there. I find this quite damning and alarming.
    My experience with other new religious movements is considerably informing my comments here. If you think the market for Christian books is small, have a closer look at the Wiccan market and some of the other NRM markets. Some are much more marginalized than us. Yet somehow they manage to publish, and a far, far greater percentage of what they publish is directed at beginner or intermediate level. This is very different from the Missional and Emergent publishing industries, which seem far more insular in comparison.
    Since you mention unpublished material, I have to say, I don’t see that situation as being much better. Sure, there are a few experiential programs to be found, but what I’ve seen has very little meat to it, very little on the essentials of Christianity and very little engagement with the questions of the genuinely unchurched. Again, if I could invoke the Wiccans, they are far more experiential than most emergent and missional Christians, yet they still manage to pack their training full of meaty teaching. They don’t see it as an either/or thing and neither do I. I actually get quite discouraged when I see missional Christians totally disparaging apologetics. Sure, much of what passes for apologetics in the church is decidedly unmissional, but the response should be to missionalize it, to contextualize it, not to abandon it altogether and leaving non-Christians to somehow discover answers by osmosis. Though stories are important, informing should not be anathema.
    Here’s a radical thought, if Christian institutional publishers wont publish it, why not go to http://www.llewellyn.com? That is the publisher we should be aiming at anyway, it would be far more incarnational publishing through them. I wonder how many emergent and missional books would survive that market? I can probably list them on one hand. Actually, to be brutally honest, the Catholics seem to do much at that than us. And can you get more institutional than Catholicism? I sense there is a far more fundamental problem. And if we truly seek to become more missional we’ll be actively listening for what that is. But for starters, I’d just like to see more missional bloggers trying their hand at engaging with non-Christians rather than their peers
    Matt

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  6. Excellent points, Matt. And I think I’m getting a clearer understanding of your perspective. This’d be sooo much easier in person, but oh well. We learn as best we can by persevering through to better listening … Anyway, some thoughts:
    Anything parading itself as missional but has shabby apologetics or an anti-intellectual attitude will eventually go down in flames as that is deficient biblical DNA. That’s no more holistic than intellectuales who parade their knowledge but shun incarnational practices. Both faith and practice, both embedded and embodied, both theory and application – if we split any of those double-helixes, we’re in trouble.
    I don’t have superextensive web experience in searching for who is directly engaging with people from other faiths online, but the observation makes sense that most of us missional people are “macro-tasking” – blogging for our own culture’s insiders, or for culturally close neighbor movements (e.g., emerging, and/or transitionals such as post-charismatics, post-conservatives, post-liberals, etc.).
    The people I know who stopped writing and are now do more “micro-tasking” engagement stuff have started green businesses, or catalyze social enterprise. If we (missionals) don’t produce materials FOR (and not just ABOUT) global audiences from various spiritualities, and recast the living Word for these new audiences, then we deserve to fail, don’t you think?
    Llewellyn … now that’s an intriguing – and yes, radical – idea. But for those who can theologize in ways that are [sorry for the following blah-blah-blah, but I don’t know what else to call it, cuz it ain’t systematic theology based] biblically comprehensive systems with holistic paradigm infrastructures that keeps a dynamic tension between rational and mystical, individual and communal, and all those other paradoxes, and grappled to be as engaging and stimulating as what drew us to Jesus in the first place, then just perhaps and sort of maybe it would have a chance with some publisher like Llewellyn, or at least with people who read their kinds of books.
    So … do you suppose that the prominent emerging-missional-whatever bloggers are on hiatus might be a providential sign-post that the “conversation” is not engaging with the right audiences?
    And finally, easy to armchair theologize about all this. I’ve been in interreligious discussion groups and I still think about things other participants said, even 10 years later. Do I want to attempt that online? No sure. Work with a specific spirituality group to listen and learn from them and attempt to answer questions in their vernacular and frameworks? Maybe. Participate in a composite book like the Wikiklesia-type projects, with maybe chapters by adherents of other spiritualities and missional perspective Christian responses? Don’t know what I’m being called to do. But a lot worth considering.

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  7. Yeah Llewellyn. If we seriosuly believe that the essense of the missional-incarnational approach is beginning were others are at, rather than expecting them to come to us, then Llewellyn. We want to connect with seekers? Why, doesn’t it make sense to publish through the premier international publisher for spiritual seekers?
    Imagine for a moment that Christian publishers no longer exist…
    Let your imagination soar. I think it’s our tendancy to rely on Christian publishers and distributors that may be holding us back, that may be contributing to the literary ghettoization. Even as we complain about the kitschiness of Christian bookshops we rely on them. Cut the cord.
    I think we have to begin with the end in mind, we have to embody the missional future we wish to see in our every action and published word. Trying to get a Christian book published through a non-Christian publisher and learning through the experience is the embodiment of missional action-reflection.
    I originally started with two blogs, one aimed at churched Christians, one aimed at mystics from a variety of spiritual backgrounds. Eventually I found the tension too hard to maintain. The opportunity from one audience to cross over to the other was high, so I could never be sure the in-house stuff was only being read in house, and visa versa. It didn’t feel right. So I gave up. I now presume everything is being read by everyone. I use low context language wherever possible, but still throw in some high context langauge from Wiccan, Buddhist and emergent Christian tribes for identification purposes. I find that balance works for my audience reasonably well.
    I don’t know what to say of the emergent bloggers on hiatus but I will say for myself that, in mixing with bloggers from other religions (and irreligions), I never run out of things to say. I actually have a huge backlog of material. Mixing with non-Christian bloggers keeps me fresh. You know in many cases they are dealing with the same issues of small group leadership too, sometimes a lot better.

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  8. Llewellyn….Excuse me while I twitch for few minutes.
    I see your point, Matt. However, given the overall poor quality (in my opinion at least) of books they offer on Paganism and Wicca, I shudder to think what Llewellyn’s Christian/missional series of books would look like.

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  9. Matt, you know you’re exactly right about the Calvinist and charismatic offerings.
    I still, though, think that what gets sold in missional/emerging is what gets other leaders excited, and what gets people excited isn’t exactly what gets people who are new or outside of leadership excited.
    In a way too, I think this runs into the strong missional/emerging wall that the Base Communities and Liberation theology ran into. Liberation theology sought to speak for the poor, while the poor joined up with Pentecostal churches.
    In other words, I suspect what you’re running into here is deeper than a publishing offerings issue.
    I certainly share your interest in this. I want to write, and communicate, and do whatever outside the bounds of what churches seem to limit. I gave a go in one attempt, which didn’t quite make a spark, but I’m still trying, and mostly keeping myself outside the normal networks as a I do so.
    I look forward to hearing more of your thoughts on this topic, as I think your “mixing” really has kept a freshness and insight that’s missing most elsewhere these days (missing in my own writing, in fact).

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  10. Jarred, actually to be honest my real dream IS an open source project, for some leaders to put their heads together and develop some training materials that can be adapted by different groups to suit themselves. That is something I would like to be a part of. But I think publishing through a non-Christian publisher is a necessary thought exercise for my fellow Christians. If not Llewellyn who would you suggest? Actually, you’d be better positioned than most to see what I am talking about here. As much as I’ve adapted my writing here for non-Christians you’d no there is still a long way to go.

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  11. Just joining this thread now… very interesting and important conversation so far. I’ve got quals in Adult Education and am currently studying part-time for a Masters in Community Development, and I’ve got some embryonic ideas about some things along the lines that are being discussed. I also work for a Printing company who would be willing to quote on any prototype self-published material. I also have friends in creative arts who collaborate on multi-media projects from time to time. So, I’m willing to talk pilot/prototype/emerging resources if anybody else is.
    Waddayareckon?
    I will be globe-trotting with my activist missional husband for a month (July/Aug) so any meetings would need to wait till after that, except maybe for preliminary intro.
    Something good could be cooking? 🙂

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  12. I was also talking to Brother Maynard the other day. Maybe a few of us can get together. I have been exploring a fourfold thing with exmapsis on core stories, core teachings, core practicies and core experiences. How does that gel with your material?

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  13. Just an initial intuitive feel is that combination sounds relatively comprehensive as far as content, Matt, although I would be sure that stories also includes scenarios (what does/could this look like?). That way, it seems to have the range of core learning styles covered, with material appealing to mind, imagination, emotions/relationships, reflection, and action.
    Then, what about hypermedia to go with this, so it’s not all in print-only format?
    And “a few” hopefully includes an intercultural base of at least gender and generation to help keep the composite of perspectives balanced.
    Yeah, do it, dood!

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  14. I am inclined to keep it simple as possible to begin with, so no hypermedia, but if it was done open source others could add to that later. I’d just need to see who is interested.

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  15. Brad directed me to this site – one of my overall observations is that those who practioners by and large don’t write books but their resources like Tall Skinny Kiwi’s blog are invaluable means of connecting people. They are much more likely to be hanging around an open source Wikki type project and other collaborative ventures than trying to market themselves as a solo author/speaker expert.
    For anyone who might be interested, I posted my reflections from Book Expo 2009 (largest early gathering of publishing folks targeted for the US). My comments are directed for writers wondering how to market their material so it’s not missional per se though some of the observations might be of help.
    http://thehopefulskeptic.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=3&t=20&sid=546c0ee9c6d92fd71e82428ab9024c7c
    The overall Q that hit home for me is what is a book? Too often folks ask the Q how do I publish a book instead of wondering “what do I want to communicate and what is the best means of communicating that idea?
    BTW-Here in the US “emergent” is considered a dead brand though a few people keep trying to rebrand and remarket the label. The vast majority of this material seems to be read by other insiders and for every person who enters the tribe, more exit. But books like Brennan Manning’s “Furious Longing of God” that might not be missional per se but appeals to a number of folks in this group are getting tremendous buzz even in a down market.

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  16. When I said, “…the Catholics seem to do much at that than us” Brennan Manning was one of the people I had in mind. His books are accessible and meaty, and as a consequence you’ll find them in some secular bookstores like Borders.
    Again, I recognize that books are not the be all and end all. But they do remain one of the primary ways in which people encounter a new religion. So my question is, should not Christianity be one of those new religions people can encounter in a bookstore? When I went into a bookstore recently, all I found was Spong, Left Behind and a book responding to Atheists, which was admittedly not too bad and certainly better than the other two. What I failed to encounter was anything on Christian practice or experience. Anything that was remotely orientated toward spiritual life was being offered by others, by Buddhists, Wiccans and others, not us.
    I note that many Buddhist and Wiccan books that are orientated towards enquirers and newbies draw considerably on unpublished or more obscure works (like the Book of Shadows for instance which very much has an open source ethos behind it). Rather than trying to run before we can walk maybe what is needed is the development of a deeper discipling tradition before we rush to publishing. Unfortunately many emergents seem to see tradition as anathema; nevertheless I see that as something I would like to explore, and indeed the exploration is already underway. Just wondering who might be willing to join in that more seriously.

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  17. Matt,
    in terms of your initial post – resources for new Christians — have you come across Sense making faith (SMF) and Lifeshapes? Both out of UK.
    I’ve used both for discipling – SMF for those who appreciate an experiential, whole-bodied tactile; and Lifeshapes for those who work visually and practically,
    steve taylor
    http://www.emergentkiwi.org.nz

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  18. Matt – Good points. I think you’ve got your pulse on the finger for what’s wrong with “emergent publishing” and why in the US, this brand has run its course. This reminds me of the “church growth” phase in the 1990s. This eschewing of tradition by some does lead one to some illogical conclusions at times – e.g., if one more person talks about doubt as though they invented the concept, I’m going to send them off to visit The Desert Fathers.
    I am thrilled by the expansion of religious sections in secular bookstores though their selection of titles is at times more than baffling. But one can always find perennial bestsellers like Henri Nouwen, C.S. Lewis, and John of the Cross, which never go out of style for people who want to deepen their faith. Every so often another voice comes along like Phyllis Tickle or NT Wright who adds to this body of knowledge that remains timeless throughout the centuries. (“Surprised by Hope” is an excellent read for anyone who wants to really delve into what does the Resurrection mean for 21st century Christians.) A book you might want to check out when it comes out in October (at least here in the US) is Harvey Cox’s “The Future of Faith.” necessarily carrie

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  19. Actually in my neck of the woods Phyllis Tickle and NT Wright do not make the secular shelves, and C.S. Lewis is only found in some stores. Henri Nouwen could reasonably be expected in Borders, but not in Dymocks, our largest bookstore chain. I suspect the Sydney market is considerably more … not only dechurched … but more unchurched than many places in America. We have to wind back the assumptions even further. There are people with no living memory of Christianity. For example, my brother, who is more churched than some, watched Narnia without recognizing it as having any Christian elements. It was too subtle for his level of understanding.

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  20. Thanks for mentioning these Steve. I had come across http://www.spiritualjourneys.org.uk before but not lifeshapes. I can see how they could be helpful with newer disciples; what I am angling more for though is for not-yet disciples, particularly for people who have never heard of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. I am finding they are after something more explicit. Not less sensual or visual necessarily, just more explicit on what is essential and what is more peripheral.

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  21. Okay…I saw this post title, but didn’t have time, Matt. Thanks for the e-mail heads-up!
    Looks, Abberians, as though the Scriptorium at The Abbey needs to be founded! I have found, Matt (and Brad already knows this), that most of my life I have chosen to write my own teaching materials … because of two reasons: 1) access and cost issues and 2) doctrinal issues.
    This was the reason behind my 40 Days of Purpose series … which was a spin off of the series I wrote and taught as Community Life Pastor. It was simple enough to not intimidate yet meaty enough to spark the important discussions with each group I took through the series (5 courses). The “materials” were there for reading and reference, but each class was driven by the questions being asked by those attending.
    As with most things, I am a both / and kind of person. But with missional discipleship stuff — well, this is the whole point of CovenantClusters — I believe we have to remove all the barriers to viral spread of the simple/complex truth of what God is about. And that means that this is both a book that is available on line — like at the Scriptorium — and available in print. I would be thrilled to help engage in the preparation of a Volume Three of the Wikiklesia Project. (We are, however, in the throes of Volume Two launching over at Missional Tribe.)
    I would love to engage in this kind of project — where we can publish those materials that have worked for us in our various contexts — as well as be able to point to those places across the internet where solid information and conversations are available.
    I would hope that our publisher would be an “on-demand” type, like Lulu.com was for Wikiklesia One, so that we could update the versions as appropriate and keep the price down — realizing that most of our “buying customers” would be, possibly, missional practitioners who want a hard copy or two for a **gasp** library ;^) or for folks who like to have a hard copy in which to make notes (that would be this wee Abbess!) and show to people when away from the internet.
    I believe that we have to provide an accurate description of the primary context for God’s perceived reality in order for people from all contexts to recognize the fingerprint of God all around them.
    Aaugh…big, big topic that pulls very, very hard on my heartstrings. The Spirit is definitely on the move, friends. I’m keeping my eyes open….

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  22. Many years ago (02-03?) I thought of writing (and I was really not a writer) a booklet “What’s the deal with church”. This would include a basic Gospel explanation and an explanation for all the things that go on in a church service. A way of demystifying the church, explaining what we are on about etc, or something non-threatening to give your friend who might come or who is just interested in that place you go on Sunday. I never got around to that (others may have) but it was then that I realised that tying “what we believe” to “what we do at church” sometimes needed some long strings!
    A bit OT, but if this though had come up now (in the full-blown rather than emerging internet era), maybe thinkers like those here would have taken it up. I pray that a decent resource is created, discovered or developed by those here.

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  23. Matt – thanks for the illumination. I was referencing to what’s considered crossover (carried by secular and religious bookstores) in the United States. I pray that the resources are developed that can reach those with ears to hear.

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  24. Yeah, Matt, I’m willing to meet with a few folks, but as I mentioned, I am due to leave for a month-long round the world tour on July 7th.
    I reckon it would be good to prototype something “el basic” and then work out how to morph it into the various media productions for a wider “net” effect.
    PLUS I’ve got creative friends who could contribute, once a core collaborative group has nutted out the gist and thrust.
    Just let me know! 🙂

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  25. sorry to join in late. i think you are absolutely right in terms of the emphasis.
    as a starter for ten, the few books i can think of for beginners from missional thinkers are:
    – a search for what is real – brian mclaren & steve chalke
    http://is.gd/19cVX
    – a search for what makes sense – mclaren and chalke
    http://is.gd/19cYS
    – simply christian – tom wright
    http://is.gd/19d11
    – and of course – the shack – william p young

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  26. Sorry it took me so long to get back to this discussion.
    As I think about it, maybe Llewellyn would be okay. My biggest concern is that their Paganism and Wicca books by and large (there are obviously some fantastic exceptions — and I’ve noticed more of them lately) tend to be tired rehashes of a lot of the same stuff with no real substance behind them. I’ve gotten the impression from a few people that this is by the publisher’s design, and that there’s even a “quantity over quality” mentality with the publisher. So if Christian authors started getting published through Llewellyn, they may have to deal with that. An alternative publisher might be Samuel Weiser. And while I certainly don’t have nearly as many of their books as I have Llewellyn books, I’d note that I’d be hard pressed to think of a single Weiser book on my shelf that I don’t consider to be at least of decent quality.
    Of course, I think part of the issue is that those writing Christian books need to decide what they hope to accomplish. What messages do they want to get across? What do they want their readers to get out of reading their books. Who is their target audience?
    I think that last question deserves special consideration. I understand that most Christians would ultimately like to see everyone convert to their faith. If that is one of the goals of the book (and I think it’s ultimately an impossible goal), then the author must consider how much reaching that goal trumps other considerations about the book’s message. What else are they willing to sacrifice in order to “play to the lowest common denominator”? (Again, this seems to me to be a very heavily applied technique in many of the Paganism and Wicca books I’ve seen from Llewellyn.)

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  27. I do not think there are too many Christian authors who’d even remotely expect everyone to convert, even if they’d like to see it. If I were to give it a go I think I would approach the task much the same way as I approach the blog. I see it as a conversation with my culture, a conversation that encompasses multiple aims. Above all I would seek to honour God, but wrapped up in that is the thought of being a blessing to my readers as God is a blessing to me. For some that may mean opening up the Christian path for them. For others it may just be helping them in a lesser way, possibly through raising some interesting questions. If nothing else I would hope to bring attention to alternative ways of being Christian.

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