It was a very fun book to write, because I was so excited about the topic. But it was also challenging. I talk a lot about social media, so I felt like it was important to be fully engaged with blogging and Twittering as I wrote it. And since social media can be a total time suck, it often took over my writing hours. I started speaking and traveling more, because Tribal Church did well, so that often took my days off. Then there was that weird second book thing. There can be a bit of pressure, internally and externally, to make your book better than the first one. With your first one, you can labor away in obscurity, but with the second, there are expectations…. Through it all, I’m pretty sure that I threw away more pages than I wrote (that’s not usually how I do things).
Eventually I learned to balance my time a bit more and turn off the Internet when I needed to. I even realized that I don’t need to put up a blog post every day, and it’s okay if I don’t respond to every comment, even when the comment is critical of my work (that was very freeing, indeed). I learned to turn down some speaking engagements. And I got over that second-book thing. And after a good long time, it’s out.
Now, I want to thank you all for your comments and conversations. They have fed me throughout the process. The book and article recommendations, your reflections of when I was on point and when I was off, the interview suggestions–it was all of great value as I put the manuscript together. I struggled as I wrote the acknowledgements for the book. Some of the people were easy to point to. There was, of course, my family, my husband, Brian Merritt, and my daughter, Calla. Diana Butler Bass wrote a great forward, and I was humbled by the kind endorsements of Phyllis Tickle and Paul Brandeis Raushenbush. Ruth Everhart, MaryAnn McKibben Dana, Jan Edmiston, and Leslie Kingensmith were all a part of a writing group that I attended as I formed the proposal. As I wrote, I worked closely with Bruce Reyes-Chow and Landon Whitsitt on God Complex Radio. They are pastors, true techies (I’m not so much), and the former Moderator and present Vice-Moderator of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA). They both have a unique perspective on the church. I learned a great deal from them, both in practice and long conversations.
But other people were a bit harder to point out. Ryan and Meredith Kemp-Pappan have been great friends and support throughout. And there were networks that I was a part of and struggling with as I wrote: RevGalBlogPals, Presbymergent, Beatitudes Society, D-mergent, Outlaw Preachers, and Transform. Each one of them, in their different ways, are faithfully sorting out what it means to be church in this time and place.
It’s sort of overwhelming when I imagine the great network of people who have encouraged me and fed me throughout. I think of those people in the Bible—the prophets, slaves, and outcasts—who ended up in the wilderness. They were hungry and exhausted, and somehow a raven came with bread, or manna poured down from heaven, or they miraculously saw a well in the horizon. I know I’m far from the wilderness, and I’m no slave or outcast. I don’t want to be too dramatic about all of this… but I have to say that I’m overwhelmed with gratitude when I think of all the generous spirits of the people around me. People who have said kind words, linked to articles, extended invitations, and sent emails. On many dry and anxiety-filled days, these things nourished me more than you could know.
I cannot thank you enough.