By John Pierce

For one year now, Baptists Today news journal has carried the Nurturing Faith Bible Studies by Tony Cartledge along with youth studies and children’s helps. We are grateful for the excellent response by Sunday school classes and other groups to this new approach that puts the printed lessons in the news journal and the abundant teaching resources online.

David Cassady, an experienced publisher, fellow church member and friend who leads a creative services company called Faithlab, has been a trusted and valued partner in this venture. When we find time in our busy schedules to actually sit down and talk, new ideas seem to emerge.

Over coffee several months ago, David and I were discussing this new approach to producing Bible study curriculum as well as the larger shifts in publishing technology. He mentioned how book publishing could benefit from a fresh approach — and that he was devising such a plan.

Another light bulb came on. In our conversation, we realized that in bringing our small but talented teams together we had all of the ingredients for such a project.

David has extensive experience in book and curriculum publishing as well as a keen knowledge of the latest technology. Faithlab knows how to make a creative idea into a real resource.

So does the staff of Baptists Today. Additionally, we have built-in marketing for everything we produce and an entry into a primary audience through our news journal subscribers. We have editors, copyeditors and designers who work well — and work well together.

So on a Barnes & Noble napkin we sketched out a plan for creating Nurturing Faith, Inc. as a new, collaborative venture to publish books and other resources.

Of course, it took attorneys many more words and pages to turn our scribbled napkin into a contract, to protect the brand name, and to create the formal non-profit organization. But the essence of what we are doing through Nurturing Faith, Inc. — as sketched out on that napkin — remains.

Here’s what we concluded about this new book-publishing effort:

Authors should be engaged and respected. Sure, there are certain decisions that publishers must make. But we want authors to make an investment in the process and to feel good about the results. (You can ask the first ones if we achieved that goal.)

Rewards should be shared. Authors have the opportunity to benefit immediately from the early sales of books — and to receive a much larger cut of the royalties in the long term.

No warehouse, thanks. Employing the latest technology, Nurturing Faith gets books to press quickly and makes them widely available.

Customers have the choice of a digital download (on Kindle or Nook) or to purchase a print copy from the author or through Amazon. New technology increases the efficiency of publishing and selling books without piling them up in a warehouse.

You can’t sell a book unless people know about it. Authors, we have learned, want to know that the publisher is promoting their books. That we can do.

Through print and web advertising in Baptists Today, plus social media and other outlets, Nurturing Faith imprints will get plenty of exposure. A new Nurturing Faith online store will be up within days.

We are pleased that four excellent and diverse books have gone to press this week:

Prayer 365 by Michael L. Ruffin — This excellent collection of daily prayers will indeed nurture faith. Mike is pastor of First Baptist Church of Fitzgerald, Ga.

Tarnished Haloes, Open Hearts by Lynelle Mason — This remarkable life story reads like a novel. I asked three persons to preview a couple of chapters and consider writing an endorsement. All three said I tricked them; they couldn’t stop reading until the end.

Lynelle, who lives atop Signal Mountain in Chattanooga, tells of enduring an incredibly challenging childhood and youth and finding faith in the midst of difficulties. There is so much in the story that I don’t want to give away. But it is both incredible and inspiring.

Building Bridges During the Interim: A Workbook for Congregational Leaders by John Lepper — Uncertainty, if not panic, can ensue when the pastoral leader of a church resigns or retires. Good first steps are essential for congregational health.

John has spent many years working with churches, particularly in Kentucky, to take constructive steps and to make wise choices about how to approach the interim period. That wisdom and experience is now in a workbook. Building Bridges During the Interim is an excellent guide through what can otherwise be an anxious time.

The Lighter Side: Serving Up Life Lessons with a Smile by Brett Younger — For nearly a dozen years, Brett has been bringing levity and insight to Baptists Today through his popular “Lighter Side” column. The best of those witty, yet pointed, pieces have been assembled in this new book.

Like Brett, it’s a hoot. Yet it brings a lot of “Ah-hahs” along with smiles.

Other excellent books are in the works — and interested authors can find information on the publishing process and how to submit a manuscript at Very soon that same site will be the place to buy these books.

While David and I are pleased with how quickly and effectively this new publishing venture has developed, we are also grateful for the coworkers, supporters and authors who have made this experience so positive.

We claim no brilliance or divine revelation. We were sitting around Barnes & Noble and “books” came to mind. Imagine that?

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