Because he just signed a contract for a sixth book with Abingdon Press, that’s why.
That’s right. After a few months of dreaming, praying, proposing, writing, and praying some more, I got the word last week that Abingdon will turn my preaching workshop Simplify The Message & Multiply The Impact into a book called Simplify The Message: Preaching With Clarity In The Midst Of Cultural Clutter.
This will be quite a different project from my previous work with Abingdon (which you can see and purchase here). Those previous books were essentially books OF preaching — the editorial team in Nashville has take five sermon series and transformed them into small group bible studies.
In contrast, Simplify The Message will be a book ON preaching.
The origins of the idea came when I was designing the Simplify / Multiply workshop for United Methodist preachers in Western North Carolina. As I put the eight sessions on paper, I realized, “hey, each session could be a chapter and pretty soon you’ve got a book!”
I took the concept to Brian Sigmon, my bible study editor at Abingdon, who encouraged me to write a couple of sample chapters and then forward it to an entirely different editor (Constance Stella) in a totally different department (Leadership) within the same publishing house. So that’s what I did.
Given what a stretch this was compared to turning-sermons-into-bible-studies, as well as the new editorial team involved, I had no idea if what I was putting together was any good or not. The few friends to whom I sent the sample chapters liked them a lot … but then again, they are friends and not critics.
But soon the word came that new editor thought the sample chapters were, and I quote!, “well written, engaging, accessible, and—above all, most importantly— is useful to pastors and preachers.”
So, buoyed by that feedback, I then put together a detailed proposal — which was actually great fun — and gathered a considerable amount of prayer support around me. (I realize that over the last four years, a lot of prayers have gone from Charlotteans to God on behalf of Nashvillians.)
Some of the suggested chapter titles in that proposal include:
From Clutter To Clarity: The Power Of A One Point Sermon
From InteresteED To InterestING: Delightful Exegesis And The Joy Of Discovery
Keep Me Awake, Please!: Taking People On A Sermon Adventure Rather Than Through A Sermon Outline
The Pastoral Sherlock Holmes: Preaching And The Sacred Act Of Noticing
And isn’t it funny how these things work out? After several days of checking my email every 15 minutes for “news from Nashville,” on the one day I didn’t think about it at all, the “Congrats” email came. The contract arrived shortly thereafter.
When I told my sixteen friends in the preaching workshop the news, they immediately responded with, “Then you’ll have to dedicate it to us!”
Ultimately, I have just one thing to do between now and mid-November.
Write the rest of book.
Oh, and pray that when its contents are published in 2019 that it will help preachers and teachers everywhere advance the kingdom.