Yesterday I completed the last workbook segment that goes into Field Guide #1 of 4 on systemic abuse, recovery, advocacy, activism, and setting up organizations geared to intervene in/prevent abuse of power. Some beta-readers have been giving me valuable feedback, and there is more clean-up work to do until this next-to-final draft is ready for next steps.
I’ll be giving my brain a break while I catch up on other projects that need completion. But, milestone moments are also a good time to back away from details for a bit, take a look at the big picture again, and give thanks for the process. So, here’s an overview of the providential production of this Do Good Plus Do No Harm curriculum series.
The roots of my cultural research go back 25 years, and around 1997 I began to sense I should edit my writings into a book for church planters. The experiences of the next 10 years – several of them in church situations that turned out toxic – adjusted the subject of the book toward recovery with spiritual abuse and developing organizations that would take preventive measures against misuse of power. I kept writing.
Then, when the economy crashed in late 2008, I lost the half-time editing job I had. I scrambled to create income streams from freelance editing, eBay selling, and teaching. Friends helped me along the way with those, and I kept writing on my own project whenever I could. What I thought was a good final outline for a book series eventually came together, combining theory and practice. And I kept on writing when I could, even when my health suffered a number of significant setbacks over those years.
By 2015, I had 75% of the first volume done! But then came an unexpected twist – I increasingly felt led to shift the target audience to a broader audience interested in social transformation, not just church planters. I wasn’t exactly happy about this – I was nearing the finish line on that initial volume! But, I also knew from long-time experience in seeking to follow the Spirit’s leading, that I needed to shift courses, even if I didn’t fully understand why. So, it took two more years to do three essential things to recraft the series.
(1) Flip the focus to put how organizations can go wrong first, and how to do it right last. I kept finding that people only wanted the “positive” how-to’s of start-ups, but they rarely had any sense of how to identify or prevent the “negative” DNA of disaster in their start-up church, ministry, project, or non-profit.
(2) This meant re-sequencing the series, and what had been book #1 of 4 was now book #3, and vice versa. So it was like starting over as I only had about 25% done on what was now book #1.
(3) Translating from Christianese into language that would make sense to people of other faiths and philosophies who are willing to find common ground and work for the common good. (I still use illustrations from ministry, and work from a core of biblical values and ethics, but write about it with more accessible vocabulary.)
And so, here I am, two years after The Big Target Audience Shift, with the “new” book #1 at the next-to-final draft stage. At last! Ten years of writing/editing and of God-empowered tenacity, and knowing I have the prayers and encouragement of many friends – this has kept me going toward finishing these books that are my calling.
There’s much to be thankful for, but much still to pray for in bringing this first part of the project to completion! I’d greatly appreciate your prayers for the final stages on this first book, and what’s next for the whole series:
- Physical stamina – it’s particularly low right now.
- Discernment on changes I need to make to improve the manuscript and series format.
- Plans for how/when to get the first book and eBook published, plus sales and distribution channels.
- Other training elements to develop and when.
- Finishing the companion website.
- Who to have help on future stages.
- At least two or three more years of reasonable health so I can finish the entire series and related training resources.
It’s an overwhelming number of details, but I trust in the Lord’s goodness and leading to see me through, as He has from the outset of this project.
Thanks for being on this very long and often intense journey with me …
[Edited for clarity and to add a few points on 04/25/2017.]