This week meet, Mel Lawrenz who trains an international network of Christian leaders, ministry pioneers, and thought-leaders. He is the author of thirteen books, most recently Spiritual Influence: the Hidden Power Behind Leadership (Zondervan, 2012), and Whole Church: Leading from Fragmentation to Engagement (Jossey-Bass/Leadership Network, 2009). He has a Ph.D. in the history of Christian thought (Marquette University) and is on the adjunct faculty of Trinity International University.
If someone came to you and said they were thinking of writing a book, what advice would you give them?
“If you think you have it in you to write a book, explore that possibility. But first, have you been writing and distributing shorter pieces? You are not ready to write a book unless you have been writing articles and publishing them or at least distributing them on the Internet. You need three things to write a book: the ability to write, an audience that is interested in your ideas, and some really good ideas. If that is where you are today, then start writing, but also do a lot of learning about the publishing industry.“
Name a person who has had a tremendous impact on you as a leader? Why and how did this person impact your life?
“Stuart Briscoe with whom I worked as a pastor for 20 years before succeeding him as senior pastor at Elmbrook Church. Stuart influenced me by his personal integrity, his commitment to the gospel, his values of grace and truth, and his good humor. More important than all the mutual projects we worked on together, are the many conversations over many years, exchanging ideas and learning together.“
Explain the impact, if any, that technology (including social media, the Internet, digital publishing, etc) has made on your organization or you personally?
“Huge. Thirteen years ago I started writing weekly pieces and distributing them via an opt-in email list. This has kept me thinking, interacting with others, and learning what is important to people. In the last few years we have developed all the other social media platforms. All the books I have written in the past thirteen years have been tested as online pieces.“
What are you doing to ensure you continue to grow and develop as an author?
“Networking widely. Regular reading. Keeping writing. Learning from writing and publishing experts by subscribing to their blogs or emails.“
When you hear from your readers, what do they want to know?
“The vast majority of people who buy non-fiction books are asking one question: “how?” Frankly, I wish it were otherwise. I think we need to read as much that gets at the “why” of things before we ask the “how” questions. But I know I'm in the minority on this point. I at least try to sneak in ideas about “why” while I'm writing about “how.”
Here's what Mark Buchanan, Author of “Your Church is Too Safe”, had to say about Mel's book, “Whole Church”:
“I love rare finds: vintage motorcycles, old maps, abalone shells, unbroken. And this book. Why rare? Mel's depth and breadth. This man knows church. He brings to the task the best of theology, organizational theory, and just good old-fashioned life-in-the-trench experience. And one thing more: simple, workable, practical wisdom that you can put into play 5 minutes after reading a chapter. If you're looking for something more than the latest, “I'm brilliant, and you can be too” book on leadership – if you're looking for something as practical as a manual on small engine repair, as readable as a novel, and as insightful as an old man of the tribe – you're holding it. Lucky you, landing on such a rare find.“