It was fun and exciting to be able to share with everyone last weekend our big news about the book. If you missed it, see my last post, or catch the message on-line (just go to our web site, hit “messages” then “watch a message” and then watch the most recent message).
Anyway, here’s some more information. We are currently preparing a complete manuscript, including all the chapters, to be delivered to our editor by June 15. The writing is all done, so we won’t have any trouble meeting the deadline, but there is plenty of editing and fine-tuning to do in the meantime. Toward that end I will not be speaking at weekend Masses starting this weekend (aside from a brief homily after communion). Tom will be offering the message for Mother’s Day as well as our new series, which starts the following week (the messages, as is our off season custom, come after communion). That will free up most of my time to focus on getting the manuscript in great shape.
The week after next we are going out to Notre Dame to meet with the whole team at Ave Maria Press and get to know the people we’ll be working with through the process. We’ll also be discussing how we get this book into the hands of the people we hope will read it. We will even begin to talk about what the book will look like, on the inside as well as the cover (any of you who know me, know that I will be all over that one). Currently we are in the process of requesting to speak at a couple of large church conferences next spring, as a way of promoting the book. One will be here in Baltimore and the other is in Los Angeles.
As mentioned last week, this book is the story of us, what happened to us, what we learned and how we grew as we discovered:
- Our parish was not working.
- We didn’t know how to fix it.
- There are churches who are getting this right.
- We can learn from them.
After that our book is just about acting on what we learned and what happened to us when we did.
We tell our story to first of all better understand it ourselves. That is initially why this was an important exercise for us, even if we never got published and no one ever read it. This is also a book that will be very helpful to our parishioners and newcomers here at Nativity. It will make it so much easier for them to appreciate and value why our culture and strategy is deliberately different from so many other Catholic Churches. It will organize for them our purpose, mission, values and what we are talking about when we talk about “growing disciples growing disciples.” It will be useful to them, in explaining to sometimes skeptical friends and family what is going on here.
But our primary audience is not here, it is elsewhere. God put it on our heart from the beginning to speak to and write for people in other parishes: pastors, associate pastors, deacons, seminarians, parish staffers, religious educators, youth ministers, and volunteer ministers. We’re also writing for those who just have a view from the pew but value their local church community and appreciate its fundamental and critical role in their life and the life of the Catholic Church. We seek to thoughtfully engage all those who share the concern that things are not going well, that things could be going better. As we write in our preface:
“We do not pretend to know anything about the church community you serve in, or what would work there. We strive to be respectful of your challenges and your efforts. Of course not all the specific details we discuss will work everywhere. Our strategy must be translated into your setting if it is to work at all. And we do not presume to insist that all our principles are transferable to your parish.
“But we’re guessing most of them are.”
We wrote this book because we want to be of assistance to our brothers and sisters in the Body of Christ. We believe God will use it in this way.