Thursday, September 24, 2009

Timing for the release of THE RUNAWAY PASTOR, and More Readers Every Day!

Timing. Everyone is asking when The Runaway Pastor will be available for purchase. As I understand it, I will be able to get some pre-publication copies for an early book signing or two in October. But it will be at the end of October, or the beginning of November before Amazon and other online bookstores will have them available. At that time, I will put a link here at this site for you to connect to Amazon for orders.

Readership Growth. The number of readers of the first seven chapters of The Runaway Pastor continues to grow. Three times as many people have gone to those pages online in the past three weeks, than in any previous month. I am getting daily comments from people who have just discovered the book, and are excited to get it.

Several of you have put a link on your facebook status to the book. I am really grateful, and you have no idea how many new people are coming simply because you have linked it. Thank you so very much.

I'm moved by the number of people who are mentioning their own pastors, and their longing to better understand them. That is a major hope of mine: To help people understand the unique struggles, joys and hopes of clergy. There is much hope in my novel, and as you get beyond chapter 7, you will see it more and more.

Friday, September 18, 2009

News About Runaway, and a Sequel on its Way!

Thanks to all of you who have been linking this website to your facebook, myspace, twitter, email and other online messages. The traffic on the site is growing quickly and that is helping to get the word out. Not only is the traffic up, the number of "new visitors" is increasing rapidly.

If you are a follower at this blog, I would love to have your contact info so that I can let you know when things are happening. Send me an email. My contact info is on the right side panel. If you haven't joined yet, it is free of course, and you are still welcome and invited to join as a follower.

I gave myself an hour or so the other day to take time away from my work, and to do some writing. A preface and first chapter of a sequel to The Runaway Pastor are underway! It felt good. My wife and one other reader I allowed in at this early stage have been very complimentary. And it felt good to be back in the world of novel creation, instead of editing and planning.

Did I mention to you that I got a really nice endorsement, and it is (at this point) the lead on the back cover of the book. Those things should be tied up by early next week when I have a quick meeting with my publisher and agent.

Thanks for following along, and for helping me get the word out about The Runaway Pastor. To this point, you are the only marketing staff I have. And you are doing a great job.

My grand daughter just came over--and writing this dropped off the priority list. Later!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Runaway Readers at Record High!

It has really been amazing to see the number of people going to the first seven chapters of my new novel, The Runaway Pastor. There were four days this past week, when the number equaled any thirty days previous. In other words, the word is spreading about the book.

It is interesting and exciting to me that now, several cities in Europe, Asia, Central America, Australia and Africa are showing up on my analytic visitors page. I want to thank you for being so intentional about spreading the word! Your excitement is catching--literally around the world.

As the publication date nears, I want you to know that I appreciate any and every link you add to your blogs, and any mention you give The Runaway Pastor on your facebook page or emails. The word about the novel spreads in amazing ways when you begin doing this. If you copy and paste this URL- -to a facebook, myspace, or twitter entry, then people see the link and often show up and begin reading. Make sure and let them know that for now, anyway, visitors can read the first seven chapters for free.

I will let you know when I have a firm date for publication. I continue to anticipate it being sometime within the next few weeks.

Grace and peace to you.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Great News!

No sooner did I post the request for a web designer, than 4 suggestions were in my in boxes. Wow, thanks everyone. But thanks especially to the one who has committed to doing my site! I am really excited.

And we move ahead...

New Website, Designer, Host Needed

I am in the need for a web designer and probably a web host to update, etc the site. As the book launches, I'm told I'll need to have a regular site that can include a blog, but be a bit more. So this is a call for experts or references. I've resisted this all along because of the expenses...however, I think I have to comply now.

Anyone have a favorite that is very reasonable?

Thanks for now...

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Getting a Little Spooked About Publishing

This is weird! Now that the publication of The Runaway Pastor is imminent, more and more things are spooking me. Like a text message I got last night from a mother in our congregation. It went something like this: My daughter (fifth grade) wants to read your book when I get it. What should I tell her? And then there is this, how would you explain to the congregation you have pastored for more than 10 years, that you are having a book published about a pastor who runs from his wife and congregation?

Now you see what I'm thinking. Maybe you have all along. But for every one hundred parts of me that are excited about The Runaway Pastor coming out, there is one little part that is cowering a bit.

So why, so many people are asking me, did you write it?

When I sat down to write this book, I had recently counseled with a successful business owner who had indeed run across three states before turning his pickup and stuffed wallet back toward home and his family. An unmistakable pattern was developing in my conversations with hurting pastors: Several confessed a similar desire to get in their car and drive as far as their savings would take them. The Runaway Pastor was a desperate attempt to empty myself of the question, “What if?”

This pastor/author is convinced that an over emphasis of the business model in the Church has destroyed the ministry of thousands of pastors who were gifted as shepherd-teachers, but not as corporate executives. I hope The Runaway Pastor will provide a glimmer of hope to those already shoved to the sidelines. And perhaps it will encourage some who remain in the fray to be true to their gifts and their families, and as a result find themselves being true to their God.

As some of you know, I was also inspired to write after experiencing burnout. Trying to meet the expectations of too many people led me down the road to exhaustion and despair. I wrote in some measure, for therapy.

Another question people are asking is: "Hey, this guy in your book comes around and does it all right again, doesn't he???" I'll let you decide on that one.

Here is one more invitation for "followers" at this site. Your presence is so encouraging and there are some days when the above questions come up, that I am encouraged to know you are beside me.

Peace to you. It won't be long!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Car Seats and Drop-Offs

I'm feeling like a younger dad again. This morning my wife left early for work up north. I was left to get breakfast and coffee for our exchange student. I got her to school late. I never think to put the top down on my Jeep for know, I just "rough it" in the fog or cold when I'm on my own. And I have been doing things alone for quite a while.)

Due to an illness, I needed to drop-off my grand-daughter at the sitter's. I did put the top up for the baby, no roughing it for was threatening rain! I had to physically climb into the back of the Jeep in order to buckle the car seat contraption into place. (Glad no one was watching.) I really miss the old way of having kids face forward in the passenger seat. I still held hands with her on the way.

My son text-messaged me from his college and we are hoping to have lunch together. These are good times. There are many things about life that are hard most of the time, including right now. But I'm enjoying being a dad, a foreign exchange dad, and a papa.

Seasons change, and so do we. But life moves on and there are blessings all around.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Sunday Surprise

I don't know when was the last time I invited people to receive prayer for healing, and the accompanying annointing with oil. I knew that a few of our people had frightening diagnoses last week, and many are living in pain and sorrow. And so, I simply mentioned that if anyone wanted to be annointed (no magic me, no magic oil, but good God), they could come and kneel at the left side of our altar.

I expected that perhaps one or two, or maybe even three would come forward for the prayers of our congregation. I also expected more would go to the right side of the altar, where they could pray unattended and privately, with no one knowing their need.

After speaking the invitation, and as the chorus of a song was begun, my throat closed as did the aisles of our sanctuary. And as eleven people and their families and loved ones stepped forward, I felt again my extreme unworthiness to be the one leading the prayer and applying the oil.

Love filled the room, and peace spilled around the edges of faces. And once again, my plans for a Sunday service were improved upon.

Grace and peace to you as you live expecting the unexpected--and the comfort of His presence.

Friday, September 4, 2009

First Look at New Book Cover

These are exciting days for me. It has been nearly three years since I began writing The Runaway Pastor. And now after a year of seeking publication, we are only weeks away. Thanks to all of you who have followed along and shown interest. You have been very encouraging to me.

To the right you can see the book cover for The Runaway Pastor. I think it came out well. We looked at several proposals, and this one won the day with the publisher and me. Hope you like it.

More soon. Remember to direct your friends here as you are able. From the looks of my web traffic, more people have read the first seven chapters in the past two weeks than in any month previous! Word is getting out--thanks to you.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

The Runaway Pastor: The "Autobiography Question"

As we get nearer the publication date of The Runaway Pastor, I continue to receive many questions about the book and it's topic. I'm excited about the interest, and grateful for the curiosity. Almost every day a new reader writes to me and expresses excitement about the book.

There are two primary issues that are faced in this book, and they both regard vows taken by Trent Atkins: Vows to marriage and vows to ministry. Will Trent and Natalie's marriage be saved? Will Trent's ministry be restored? In The Runaway Pastor, we see him run from these vows, then make choices regarding both of them. These are the issues I hope readers will deal with. My publisher plans an online study guide to lead reader groups through them. Both issues matter in our times.

Many still ask how much of The Runaway Pastor is autobiographical. My best answer is: None, and much of it. None, because I am not Trent Atkins. I've never run across the country or hidden from my wife or a congregation I pastored. Natalie Atkins is not my wife. My wife and I are still happily tucked into our early 1800's log cabin in the hills of Brown County, Indiana.

Much of this book is written however, because I have felt many of the things that Trent experienced before his run. I would definitely say I am not cut out for modern ministry. I love to shepherd, teach and care for a community. But I am not a CEO, CFO or savvy administrator. I have much passion for connecting unconnected people to Jesus; but I have zero passion to grow a mega-church.

And, I have met many Trents. Throughout my ministry other pastors have shared with me their thoughts of quitting, and I remember one particular conversation with a church leader who spoke to me of his earlier years when he would dream of "getting into my car and driving as far as [my] savings would allow." According to several authorities, hundreds (many cite about 1,500) pastors in North America leave the ministry (before retirement) for the last time each month.

That is my best shot at an answer to the questions about autobiography. It will be interesting to see how people respond to the completion of The Runaway Pastor. I have people cheering for a yes on one of the vows and a no on another. Others wanting both outcomes to be yes, and others wanting Trent to just stay tucked away in Southern California, working with his crew and settling with Kim.