My friend and fellow pastor Rob Bentz (I’m not really sure I like to use the term “colleague”), has recently published his first book called Unfinished Church. As I read it again, I’ll be putting out a review here on this blog. I say “read it again,” because Rob sent me each chapter as he finished them, requesting honest feedback and interaction. I remember last year before I moved down from West Virginia, literally trying to edit a chapter while the movers were literally taking apart my bedroom. In this book writing process for Rob, I learned a few things I’d like to pass on to you.
1.) Getting a book published is hard. I actually knew that, but I have only known the hard part of getting rejected by publishers. While in seminary I tried to see if I could get the book of memoirs (with Dave Barry-like storied embellishments) of my time as a humble youth director living in Clinton, South Carolina. My favorite seminary professor Steve Brown read a chapter or two and told me that I was a good writer, but I wasn’t famous and probably needed some more recognition before anyone would show interest. I’m still not very famous (though I have an every other month religion column for the Bradenton Herald) and will soon (thanks to Rob) be featured on a national blog for pastors called PastorServe.
But should I ever get to the point where a book publisher says, “Yes,” I learned there is much work yet to be done. I’ve seen the tedious process of re-writing and editing and getting feedback from folks you trust. That includes folks in different, and some not so different, theological circles. It’s a lot of work.
2.) Thanks. One of the coolest parts for an unfamous (seriously I’m ok with it, and would much rather be an unfamous than infamous, right?) pastor/wannabe-writer is that my name is in the “Thanks” section. That is really cool. I don’t know how much I really offered Rob, but I did do my best to help. I did spend a decent amount of time. Being appreciated is important. Seeing your name on paper is special. Who knows, this may be the last time my name is on a book? Or maybe not. Regardless, its the first time and it meant a lot. Thanking people is powerful.
3.) Seeking Feedback. There were times when life was just plain busy. Amy was pregnant,we were were transitioning to move down to Florida, raise financial support, deal with house fiasco after fiasco. So I didn’t respond to emails in the typical way that I normally pride myself in. I should say past “used to pride,” because I’m not nearly as quick anymore. Thanks church planting….Yet Rob continued to email me, “Have you read chapter 6 yet? What did you think?” Rob taught me that writing a book involves not only one’s own ideas, but discerning if one’s own ideas are actually as good or as clear as one thinks. And I learned to that feedback needs to be sought, even at the risk of pestering. :-)
4.) Prayer. Rob had a team of us commit to helping him edit. But he also had a team of folks praying. I definitely did not do all that I wished I would have in this area. But should I ever write a book, I will be soliciting prayer for it. Just as Rob did.
These are a few things I learned along the way as I was invited into this journey my friend Rob Bentz. I’m thankful for him and thankful for this book. It’s solid.