Editing *Safe Houses for God’s People* – Update June 18

Things rarely go as quickly as we think they will (or “should”). I expected to be halfway done in the final editing of the first of two companion books on developing ministries that are safe, healthy, and sustainable. While I’ve made significant progress, I’m only about a third done. So, I continue to plod on forward …But the “interruptions” that could be interpreted as sticking points are actually the opposite. One thing I’ve learned over my years of writing is: *Pay attention to God’s providence!* What He sends my way (meetings, emails, blog links, unexpected new books) are meant to shape the work I’m doing. His providence provides clues to embrace, not distractions to avoid. They ultimately improve the final product. And in the past two weeks, I’ve come to realize at a deeper level the importance of what I’m writing, and that I had to alter my outline.

As I explore contemporary church planting and social entrepreneurship more, I keep seeing that many people have no apparent concept of how organizational start-ups can go terribly wrong – in fact, how naïve start-ups lead directly into spiritual abuse. These sincere, idealistic people implant unfortunate DNA: Damage Not Avoided. They try to create a utopian enterprise, but their optimistic efforts actually result in a dystopian experiment that harms themselves and others.

That’s why the two books are important as companion volumes. The topics in the first book – which deconstructs the dark side of malignant ministries – need to mirror the antidotes in the second book – how to (re)construct an enterprise that is safe, healthy, and sustainable.

So, the past two weeks, I’ve had to spend time thinking through how to make those outlines mesh as seamlessly as possible. That part is almost done, but frankly, I’m feeling weary and would appreciate prayer. The drain from this level of editing is like taking a final exam every day – and then studying for the next one! So I’m on a break for a day or two to recharge, and then will push onward to try to finish by mid-July. Eventually, perhaps the plods will be replaced by applause … but, regardless of whether that happens, at least I will have finished the marathon I was called to run.

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