What Does It Mean to Be a Christian?: Exploring the Foundations of the Faith is now available in paperback from Amazon. I’ll have a Kindle version available within the next day or two.
I want to offer a few reflections on writing and publishing this work. I’m glad that I did it, but it also tapped me out emotionally on a few occasions.
First, what in the world was I doing writing a book?! It just feels so, well, presumptuous. And what a topic!? Who in the world am I to write such a bold title? I really hope nobody thinks this is a definitive work on the topic!
Then there was the reading and re-reading. I wrote and re-wrote it again and again. Every time I read it I was unsatisfied with some wording selection, or I found a minor typo. And every time I made an update I needed to wait another 24 hours for the self-publishing website to complete the review. I eventually discovered that perfection was elusive. At some point I needed to say: Enough is enough. I know it’s not perfect, and I hate then it never will be.
Finally, there’s the fear of putting my work “out there.” I cycle through moods of wanting to share with the world and wanting to make myself invisible. For that part of me that seeks anonymity, this is terrifying.
And yet, here were are. And, despite the fact that I’m 90% embarrassed that I have written and published this book, I’m 10% pleased. That 90% almost convinced me to pull the plug at the last minute. But that 10% is what kept me going throughout and to finally hit submit. So, why did I take on this project?
First, I’m a pastor and I saw an opportunity to share the good news of Jesus. This lies at the root of it. I get to spend a lot of time with young people and adults who have only limited knowledge of the faith, or whose knowledge is distorted.
I wanted a resource that I could give them that went beyond a pamphlet, but that wasn’t so dense or thick they would never read it. I wanted to show the simplicity of the gospel, but at the same time not be so simplistic that essentials were lost. I saw that there was a need to connect the dots between salvation, the Christian life, and the church. I knew of some other books that did something similar (think: John Stott’s Basic Christianity or N.T. Wright’s Simple Christianity) but nothing that was exactly what I was looking for.
Second, I know that my relationship gives me a voice other author’s might not have. No, I’m not the best writer or theologian out there. I’m no John Stott or N.T. Wright. But, I do have a voice, and I know those to whom I am speaking. To that degree this book is eminently local. In that sense it’s like a letter, written in a context, for people who I want to know and love Jesus.
So here it is, better or worse. I offer it to God as a meager offering. I pray he uses it in someone’s life to get to know Jesus, or get to know Jesus better.