Multiplication Center

Author Insights with Eric Swanson

September 11, 2013

Eric is a Missional Specialist with Leadership Network and is co-author of The Externally Focused Church, The Externally Focused Life, The Externally Focused Quest (March 2010) , and To Transform a City (August 2010), and numerous articles on churches that are transforming their communities. Eric has been married to his wife Liz for over 35 years, has three married children, five grandchildren and resides outside of Boulder, Colorado.

If someone came to you and said they were thinking of writing a book, what advice would you give them?

“I’d say “Great!” I think the best books come from having a message inside you that just has to get out. As Michelangelo could see the figure of a man or a horse inside a block of marble that was trying to get out, the best books just beg to be written. Sometimes the message comes from research, or life experience, or insight but something inside you nudges you enough to tell you, “A lot more people would benefit if they knew this.” For those who write fiction, they tap into our primal need for stories, for which the world has an insatiable appetite. Now that’s not to say that the book will be a bestseller or even sell a thousand books, but if you have a story to tell…a book is a great place to start.”

Name a person who has had a tremendous impact on you as a leader. Why and how did this person impact your life?

“John Bruce is the first person that comes to mind. I became a Christ-follower at Cal Berkeley and was discipled by John. John had a tremendous love for Christ and for the Word of God and all who hung out with him just picked up the same loves—the caught, not taught thing. During my senior year John dragged me into most every fraternity and into many athletic teams where we did “team meetings.” I’d share my testimony and John would give a gospel presentation and ask men to give their lives to Christ…and many did. Though incredibly gifted, John was about making others shine…giving other people lift. John now pastors Creekside Community Church in San Leandro, CA.”

Explain the impact, if any, that technology (including social media, the Internet, digital publishing, etc) has made on your organization or you personally.

“My thoughts lately have been influenced by Neil Postman’s work in the 80’s. He says that every technology carries with it a program for social change. So the alphabet took us from an aural culture to a visual culture, the printing press created a “public;” the telegraph moved the speed of communication from 35 mph to almost the speed of light with the telegraph. TV shaped us. Twitter shaped us. I ask myself, “What message does my iPhone carry with it?” That I can access anything I want at any time of day without having to interact with another human being. It tells me that I never have to be bored or have an idle moment—that there is always an alternative to what is going on in my world about me.”

What are you doing to ensure you continue to grow and develop as an author?

“I try to engage with interesting people and with interesting ideas outside the religion domain. In 2012 I watched 365 TED videos, went to the Game Designers Conference in San Francisco, hosted gatherings for young techies at our house…went to museums. I’m not sure if there is another book inside of me but if and when there is, it will scream to be written.”

When you hear from your readers, what do they want to know?

“Most of the time they want to know where cities are being transformed and churches are engaging their communities with good news and good deeds.”

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To learn more about Eric Swanson follow him on Twitter or visit his website

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