Thursday, February 23, 2012

We simply must tell the story

Speaking Ash Wednesday at The Upper Room Chapel
Dateline Nashville - Yesterday was a good day. The Ash Wednesday Chapel service went well and I enjoyed the more interactive luncheon session with the Reaching Toward Easter study group. But there is a lot more going on besides my presentations; I'm in the middle of a series of important discussions with my publisher.

The staff at Upper Room Books are working hard to facilitate progress regarding topics such as media interface, communication, accessibility, and how they work with authors. There's a lot to talk about and there's a lot on the line.

Here's the question - and I'd value input from my readers on this point - how does a "niche" publisher with a highly respected name position itself to move with the market when what they're really good at begins to shift toward the mainstream?
But how can people call on him if they have not believed in him? How can they believe in him if they have not heard his message? How can they hear if no one tells the Good News? - Romans 10:14
Let me explain:
  • Upper Room Books has built its reputation on developing "spiritual formation" materials that try very hard to avoid sensationalism, emotionalism, tapping into "trendy" spirituality, or buying into the absolutism and fundamentalism that defines more strident interpretations of Christian faith.
  • Upper Room Books tends to keep a low profile. However, as more Christians - and especially young adults - begin to embrace a more thoughtful and less abrasive faith experience, the titles The Upper Room publishes turn out to be exactly what The Church both needs and wants.

Getting the word out
PUBLICITY! But my publisher is consistently out-gunned when it comes to getting the word out. There are precious few resources available to throw at publicity, and the corporate culture around here traditionally leans toward humility and reserve.
  • Consequently, Methodists, Presbyterians, Lutherans, Episcopalians, Disciples of Christ, UCC, Cooperative Baptists and a whole host more denominations are buying books that don't really speak to them and don't come anywhere near to representing the theology and relational values they espouse in worship and their day-to-day lives.
  • And they're doing it for no other reason than this: they have no idea that Upper Room Books has exactly what they need to grow as Followers of Jesus.

Resources for the church
ETHOS: Don't misunderstand me; I respect the Upper Room ethos and I'm proud to be part of an organization that is more interested in honoring its core mission than making a pile of money.

But here's the conundrum... The core mission of The Upper Room will be compromised (is compromised) to the extent that literally millions of people miss the opportunity to utilize such a world-class resource.

The folk around here present a unique and faithful witness to the deliberate and transformational spiritual life, and - I believe - the Upper Room produces the best cataloge of faith-based books currently available in the English-speaking world.

MODERATES TO THE BARRICADES!!! Seriously, folks, this is no time for false modestly. We have to step up and claim the truth that moderate Christians have a strong case to present, a compelling story to share, and an amazing collection of resources to back it up!

"But how can they believe," Paul writes, "if the have not heard his message..."

Upper Room Books
We need to preach it loud, and we need to put those resources to work to share the Good News.
So what can be done? How can my publisher guard its historic integrity while fulfilling its responsibility to make sure more people have access to these products?

Like I said, there's a lot to talk about up here in Nashville - DEREK

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