I hope you ALL had a joyful Easter celebration. For the first time ever, Mike and I enjoyed a Messianic Passover Seder. What a delightful experience. All except for the bitter herbs dipped in salt water. Wow, that's a real treat to the taste buds I'll tell ya. Not. As we read through the scriptures and stories that gave meaning to each element presented it was impossible not to be moved. Oh, what God has done for us! We know about the story of God through our Bibles. Sometimes it all feels like history, but sometimes it feels very present with us. That night, God's story felt very present with us.
We were blessed to have nearly 20 people over for dinner to celebrate Easter. Old friends, new friends and four generations of family all piled into our home. It was too wet and cold to be outside much yesterday. It's been unseasonably warm and wonderful outdoors for at least 6 weeks running but the weather turned back to rain and cold just for yesterday. Here in California the news is thick with reports on the draught. So, no one dared to complain about the rained out egg hunts or the fact that we'd all be a little crowded indoors for the afternoon and evening. Between you and me, I think it was God's way of reiterating that He is the one that brings the rain and shares the sunshine. Our job is to trust He will bring everything we need and to be grateful for every drop of it.
Holy day aside, I’ve been swamped with post production, writing the book, meetings and speaking engagements these past few month. I confess I’ve dropped the ball on blogs and updates. One of my greatest needs is to get some administrative support so I can keep up with everything.
The most recent development concerns our name. Some of the feedback is; if we’re trying to reach an audience whose become disenchanted with Church a title like ours might be perceived as 40 times the thing they've lost interest in. LOL. Makes sense! So, we've got to create a new title. 40 Churches in 40 Weeks can remain the byline so we don’t lose the connection with those who know us by that name. By the way, I am eagerly soliciting any and all suggestions for a new title. Seriously, forward any ideas you have!
We are applying for 501c3 non-profit status. Initially we were told that that process was lengthy and expensive. Because our seed money (funded by my husband and I) was only enough to cover most of the travel expenses of taking the team across the U.S. we opted to put the finances there to ensure that we would at least have what we needed to finish the book and flesh out the documentary. Well, the money fell short of getting us all the way so we did the FaithLauncher campaign. It was awesome to get support from people we’ve never even met but it didn’t reach the goal that would get us all the way either. One of the greatest obstacles, we learned, was that people don’t want to contribute if they can’t claim the donation on their income tax. That’s understandable; especially for larger amounts. So we revisited the Non-Profit application. We found out that while it does take a LOT of time to fill out and submit the paperwork, it isn’t expensive. My husband is working on that now. Hopefully this move will position us better to achieve our goals to reach a national audience.
Since the first of the year, I have been concentrating on meeting and talking with as many people as possible who may be able to help us with distribution partners for both the book and the documentary. I’ve met many very interesting and caring people. All are Christians and, not surprisingly, are people who on some level are struggling with the status quo of church life. It’s both encouraging and discouraging to find so many people who are feeling the same way we do. I’m encouraged because I feel God is indeed moving this project forward and uniting our hearts and voices. He has something He wants to say and do to give us vision for what He wants us to do next.
In all honesty, the size of the task before me is overwhelming at times. Getting an independent film into distribution isn’t easy. Getting a book finished and published isn’t either. I’m counting on God calling strategic partners to fall in love with what we’re trying to accomplish. As I mentioned, I've been meeting with people I've never met before connecting with help to move forward. I've been to Starbucks more times this year than in the last 10 years combined! One of the people I met is the President of Fellowship Chamber which resulted in an invitation to speak to their group last week. That was my first official presentation on the project. It was wonderful to get to share with a group about some of what we learned through our journey last year. Next week I am presenting to the Tapestry Group in Sacramento. There are a number of chapters of that organization and I’m hoping to present to all of them!
I’ve also met with the president of a business collaboration firm. Erica loves the project and wants to help with the administrative end of organizing and maintaining a speaking tour and pre-selling the book. She feels the book should come out before the film in order to build the audience for the film. Until I get more money flowing though, I can’t to hire her. Ugh, I hate that money is such an obstacle. Not to worry though. It’s God’s business to work that all out. We’ll get there.
I’ve been given the very great honor of being introduced to the VP of a Christian Publishing House. She LOVES the project and will be pitching the book THIS WEEK at their quarterly acquisition meeting. Present will be National Book Retailers, their Marketing Department heads and their Financial Directors. I would appreciate your prayers to soften their hearts and move them to add our book to their publication list this year. That would be amazing!
Anyone can submit a manuscript to a publisher. Publishers receive thousands every day! The usual process is to print it out in a specific format and then send it to the publisher. Then wait. A. Long. Time. Then pray that whoever does the preliminary reading likes it enough to kick it up a notch to a staff editor. Then wait. Then if that editor likes it enough it might get presented to a more senior staff member. This goes on until those manuscripts that survive the rounds get presented at one of the quarterly acquisition meetings.
I did an interview for TheBlaze a few months ago. At the end of the interview the Faith Editor told me how much he loved what we were doing and asked if he could help us with anything along the way. I said that we didn’t have any relationships with publishers. It just so happened he had a meeting with the executives of a Christian Publishing House the next day. He said he’d be more than happy to help me make a connection. Voila! Catapulted across a sea of manuscripts and straight into the hands of the Vice President. Only God can make things like that happen.
I know that self-publishing is an option. I don’t love that idea though. Mike and I feel that having the support of a national publisher will lend credibility to the work. Plus, when you self-publish you have to make a considerable investment to purchase a minimum order of copies. Then, you’re on your own to promote, market and sell them. If we are to spark the National Conversation God called me to start, we’re going to need some help to move beyond my own sphere of influence. It just seems wise, to us, to at least pursue a publishing deal. That way we not only don’t have to buy 400 copies up front we can actually get an advance that could fund the administrative arm and PR for the project as a whole.
After reading the article about our project a Publicist Firm contacted me to offer their services to help us promote 40 Churches in 40 Weeks. It’s a small, but mighty, Christian PR company back East. She arranged another introduction to another Christian Publishing House. I haven’t made direct contact with them yet but I’m encouraged and humbled by the support.
Nothing would make me happier than to have a PR firm and administrative support to build and promote 40 Churches in 40 Weeks. As it stands now, I’ll have to wait for the 501c3 to come though before we can afford to hire them though. Ugh, money again.
Last week, I met with the head of the company who did all of the production work for Billy Graham. One of the people I met with earlier this year arranged the introduction. He was very encouraging but also warned us of the difficulty in getting an independent film on television. From the start I’ve envisioned the documentary on television. What better way to reach people than television? There is always Netflix and other online media sites I realize, but unless people know about our film they won’t likely come across it online. I’m open to all avenues, of course, but the goal is to reach enough people to spark a National Conversation that can begin a movement toward a stronger, healthier Church in the United States.
I will continue to build up the speaking calendar. If you know of any groups that would like to know more about what we’re doing I’d love the opportunity to come and present. The only way to start a movement is to get a WHOLE LOT of people in on the conversation. God is moving among us. Pray for me to stay right in His crosshairs so I will continue to move precisely toward His target.
To God be ALL the Glory!