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I’ve read a lot of books, and I written several now. That’s given me plenty of time to think about basic questions every author has . . . or maybe should have:
- Is this book going to help anyone practically, or is it just going to present interesting ideas that fade into the background of everyday life?
- What are the most worthwhile books I have? Why are they worthwhile to me?
- What do I want readers to DO with the books I write?
- What do I want to hear most from readers after they’ve read one of my books ?
These are critical questions, and they’re taking me in a new and exciting direction. When I think of how I’d answer questions like these, one phrase comes to mind: concrete change. I’ve read a lot of books on theology and Christian living, and I’ve loved most of them — from historical works by Augustine, Athanasius, and Calvin to contemporary books by Vern Poythress, John Frame, and N. D. Wilson. But I’ve been cleaning out my library lately (not of the books I just mentioned 🙂 ). Do you know what books I’m keeping? Books that changed my perspective and behavior in a noticeable way. These are books I will return to, quote from, and recommend to others for the rest of my life. These are the books worth reading, worth keeping.
An Exciting New Direction
But here’s the thing: most readers won’t necessarily be changed by a book even if they’ve thoroughly enjoyed it. It might change the way they think for a day or a week, but then the novelty of change fades, and they’re back to where they were before they read it — the same behaviors, the same thoughts, the same lifestyle. People need to get invested in certain ideas if those ideas are ever going to lead to concrete change. They need to process the ideas and implement them, and notice the changes. And then they can take those changes and form new habits. New habits, after all, are the only things that can replace old habits.
This idea of getting readers invested and helping them change isn’t new — authors have always noticed that their ideas really get pressed into readers when they teach what they’re written, when they take practical steps to help readers implement the ideas. Many writers I know, for instance, travel around the country or the globe teaching workshops or speaking at conferences for precisely this reason. THAT, my friends, is the venture I’ll be taking up from now on, albeit in a different sense. I’m going to have to stretch myself a bit to do it, but it’ll be worth it.
What Will This Look Like?
What will this look like exactly? Well, I can’t say I’m aiming to be a world traveler, at least not yet. I’m not at a place in life that allows me to do that so readily. But I can teach, and I can say that for every book I write, it’s going to mean a lot of extra resources for readers: guides, charts, diagrams, exercises, and videos — most of them free, but I’m also looking into developing paid courses for those who want to go even deeper. I love to teach, after all, but I’ve learned that I’m a writer who teaches (not a teacher who writes). This new venture will allow me to do both. For a glimpse of this new direction I’m taking, check out the new Reader Resource page I’ve created for Finding God in the Ordinary!
I’m excited to see what God might do through this, and how he’ll be teaching me in the process! Good things are on the horizon!