Brainstorming About Ways to Connect with Readers

Saturday, December 27, 2014

An awful lot has changed in the world of publishing in the past decade, and one of the really positive changes is the ability for authors to connect and interact with their readers. It used to be that an author could only connect with readers via the post office (remember that?) or if they would travel to give a lecture or book reading in some far off town. Nowadays though there are a ton of ways to connect through the internet which opens up lots of possibilities which are really exciting.

I'm been focusing on doing that with the release of my new book Disarming Scripture in a number of ways. The biggest so far was the book's blog tour where lots of awesome folks (see the complete list here) helped to spread the word about my book through reviews, reflections, excerpts and interviews. I also have a number of podcast interviews lined up which should be great.

That's how I've been trying to spread the word, but I also have been hearing back from you about Disarming Scripture in the form of blog comments, emails, Tweets, Facebook posts, and of course Amazon reviews. 

This feedback is really important for authors like me. For example it's really great to hear which parts of the book spoke to you, and lots of you have posted those kinds of quotes from the book on Twitter and Facebook. Others of you have written emails sharing about your own struggles, and asking probing and insightful questions. 

Honestly, the core message of the book is not to provide all the answers so we can stop asking those hard questions, but rather to develop how to ask questions motivated by compassion. Learning to ask good questions is the key to learning how to read Scripture like Jesus.

In other words, I think the next step would be to have conversations together, to have a place to work through the issues that book raises. 

That's where you come in. 

First of all, I'd like to hear what your questions are. So let me know in the comments below. So far I've heard several really good ones like this one from Kent:

"If the Bible's purpose is to bring us through competing views of God and morality along a trajectory that leads us to love, and if that trajectory is to continue past the New Testament, then why continue to use the Bible after God's Spirit of love has given us this new heart?"
That's a great question. What it gets at, I think, is that we may need to find ways of reading and interacting with Scripture that are very different from what we may be accustomed to. How can we read the Bible in a way that leads us to go further and deeper in the way of Jesus, rather than in a way that tethers us to the past? 

These are questions that deserve a conversation, where we work out the answers together, and so I'll be returning to this question and others like it in future blog posts. But right now, what I'd like to hear from you is: What are the questions that you have after reading the book? So let me know in the comments!

Secondly, I'd like to brainstorm about ways to have those conversations. We can of course do this through the blog (www.therebelgod.com), but I'm thinking there are other ways that could be even better. For example, Brad Jersak and I are planning on having a Google chat in the end of February where folks can call in to talk about Disarming Scripture. I did something similar for the Beyond the Box Gathering where we had a live Q&A session with the group. I like these a lot because it's audible and live (if you miss it you can of course listen to it later, too!) which brings something that is different from written stuff.

Another idea would be to have a book discussion group, perhaps on Facebook or Goodreads. I'd love to hear from you guys what your experiences have been with these. I'm a bit torn on Facebook honestly. On the one hand lots of people use it, so it seems good for that reason. On the other hand the interface can be pretty confusing since it is poorly organized and conversations can get lost in endless sea of timeline posts.

So if you've been part of an online book group discussion, I'd really love to hear what the platform was. What worked, and what did not?

These are just two examples, but I'm sure there must be lots more. So, again, I'm looking to you guys for input. What are some other ways to interact that we can try out?

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12 Comments:

At 8:39 PM, Blogger Tony Corsaro said...

Hi Derek, I'm all for a group discussion format, whatever that might look like. Facebook can work, I think, if it is set up as a group rather than a page. Either a Closed or Secret Group I think would be best, to allow for a sort of prescreening. BtB was originally a Closed Group and it was somewhat problematic because of Facebook's Suggested Groups that show up randomly based on your Likes and Interests. The Secret Group works well I think except that it requires an invitation from the Admin. Not sure members can invite. Steve and Raborn would know more about the workings of the Secret Group concept. Either way sounds like a great idea to open up the conversation.

 
At 9:04 PM, Anonymous Derek said...

That's good info about the FB groups Tony. I'm also considering setting up a myBB discussion forum, which would allow for discussion topics, which FB does not have. As far as FB goes, I'm considering doing a limited time discussion group. Again, these are just ideas I'm kicking around rather than solid plans at this point.

 
At 11:18 PM, Blogger Juan C. Torres said...

I'd really like to do Google Hangouts.

 
At 9:50 AM, Blogger David Norling said...

I loved both of your books and several others on related topics. And I've been devouring the BtB podcasts. But I'm wondering how to translate these liberating ideas to my conservative evangelical friends and family. They're trapped in the proof texting labyrinth. And then there's my agnostic and alienated by church friends who put their fingers in their ears and say la la la when they hear any Biblical reference. I've never pushed the Bible on them before because l was frankly embarrassed by what l found therein, but now l have something that really is good news and one group of friends is afraid of it and the other assumes that it's the same old bad news they've been hearing all their lives. I'm guessing that I'm not alone and wondering how others are walking this road.

 
At 2:47 PM, Anonymous Derek said...

Juan, yes I'm excited about Google hangout too!

 
At 2:52 PM, Anonymous Derek said...

David,

Yup that's a tough one.

As far as Evangelicals, my hope is that they can recognize the need to read Scripture like Jesus did, rather than like the Pharisees did.

As far as those who have grown "allergic" to the Bible, one thing I try to do is share the concepts without mentioning that they are from the Bible and just letting them stand on their own merit.

 
At 5:53 AM, Blogger Keith said...

I fully agree with your Disarming book and would say it has the potential to become a major new strand in Christian theology - I’ll call it Trajectory Theology (I’m a retired rocket scientist) due to its direction from a vengeful vision of God to a Compassionate (always pulling for us) God.

Towards that end, I would recommend a new partial Commentary be written that explains how passages can be re-interpreted. “Partial" because I don’t think every biblical passage is affected “Trajectory Theology”, but I betcha the interpretation of thousands of passages are affected. This is aimed at the mission field called the evangelicals. This would (I think) provide more intellectual depth.

I also feel that a book aimed specifically at non-believers and agnostics would be a good idea loaded with apologies (not apologetics) for “Christian” behaviors past and present. But also points forward to non-judgmental and restorative societies.

 
At 9:12 AM, Blogger Helen Ann said...

I have hosted book discusions on a blog that I created... Each participant is added as an author of the blog and can post responses and such as a blog post... Discussions about their thoughts take place in the comments of that particular post.. It has worked nicely.. I usually do a chapter or two a week so folks have time to discuss and we can stay on the same parts of the book to avoid confusion. I am happy to host this book if you'd like me to...

 
At 7:32 AM, Anonymous Derek said...

Thanks Keith, yes it would be an important following step to consider how a trajectory reading would speak to specific Scriptural texts. In many ways, it is the work of each generation to consider what it means to faithfully apply in the way of Jesus to the issues of our particular time and situation. Ultimately this is something that takes place in conversation and community as we work through these things together.

 
At 7:34 AM, Anonymous Derek said...

Thanks Helen, why don't you email me and we can discuss. My email is listed on the sidebar to the right just above the poem at the bottom.

 
At 4:04 PM, Blogger Erik Merksamer said...

I just want to know however and whenever a forum happens. Only recently have I become exposed to your perspective, so I've got lots of catching up to do!!

I think being able to interact with other authors is huge. For me, it reaffirms our equal roles in the Body of Christ, and also it reveals how Holy Spirit is speaking.

So, yeah, please keep me posted! :)

 
At 2:25 PM, Blogger Curtis Martin said...

How about a real, live book tour? It's a shame that Colbert is off the air as you are the kind of guy he would have on. In all seriousness, have your agent try to book you on The Daily Show. Beyond that, I would like to see this blog show interaction with some real critics. Wheaton or Baylor or Evangel College folks. You know, real life Fundamentalists. As for interacting with readers, I think you do a terrific job.

 

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