Monday, January 24, 2011

Why do I write?

Over the last few weeks I've been downsizing my library. It's shocking just how little the used bookstore gives for a good book. But I needed to downsize in a big way.

With downsizing has come reorganizing. It's remarkable how many small group books I have on my shelves. I think I have enough for seven shelves. And even more shocking thing is that I've read almost all of them. As I sorted them I was reminded of Solomon's words, "There's nothing new under the sun." I wondered if there was anything new that we can really say about groups. It's not like we are going to suddenly discover a magical key that will unlock their power, even though there are quite a few on my shelves that make such claims. As Jim Egli once told me, "If you love God, love others and teach others to love God and others, your group will go places." I'm not sure that those were his exact words but that was his point. Good groups are based in very basic things about life and love. It's not quantum physics.

I've written more than I ever thought I would write on groups. I never intended to write even one. I set out to be an academic theologian. But now my sixth book on groups is in the hands of the publisher. I've edited about 40 books on groups by various authors. And I'm working two sets of group curriculum. For some reason I cannot shake this group itch.

I wrote Missional Small Groups for group leaders and group members who are interested in moving their group beyond normal group life. MissioRelate (to be released in April 2011) is a book for pastors, group champions and key leaders who want to facilitate missional small group life.

Now I'm realizing that I want to write a book by the title Leading Missional Small Groups. After shuffling all my groups' books around, I realized that while there are a ton of good books on group leadership practices and group dynamics, I have not seen one that applies them to missional group life. And while Jim Egli's words remain as true as they are simple, the way these words play out in groups requires a few more words.

I get motivated when I see a hole. I feel the need to fill it. But that is not a good enough reason to actually write a book. Writing is too painful and hard to do simply because it fills a gap and therefore is more likely to sell. I can't write because others want what I write. I write on a specific topic because I have to. I know I must write it when I can't think about anything else and the only way I can keep myself from bursting is to write. Will this book idea on leading groups turn out to be that? It's stirring into something. Time will tell.

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