Behind the Scenes

Retreat, Surgery, Storytelling, and Bridgebuilding

Now that Beyond Sundays is out, what’s next?  I get asked that a lot.  Before I tell you, let me remind you that today is the last day to order Beyond Sundays at a $2.00 discount as part of our pre-publication special.  If you haven’t gotten in on it, you can do so here. You will also find links there to get the e-book version if you prefer.  It’s only $5.99.

Now, what’s next? Well, February turned out to be absolutely nuts!

This weekend twenty people from our God Journey Israel Tour (see picture above) a year ago are having a reunion out here in Brad and my homes.  So, for the next few days we’re going to get to celebrate those relationships again and give them some space to grow. We’ve got people flying in from Canada and all over the U.S. We’re sorry some of our international trip mates couldn’t join us, but are looking forward to a great time renewing our friendships. It’s amazing what ten days in bus will do to cultivate some lifelong friendships.

Then, Sara is having surgery again.  I know. It makes me sad, too.  She’s been through so much in the last two years, but now she needs a cyst removed from the back of her knee and hopefully that will alleviate the pain in her leg enough to avoid a knee replacement. She’s having it on Valentine’s Day, too. Though we don’t celebrate it for the holiday Hallmark wants it to be, it is happens to be the anniversary of the night I first met Sara sitting across from me at a homecoming banquet 46 years ago!  So it’s a day for us! I think we’ll celebrate the night before.

And then there’s this:

I’ll be telling part of the story of our early dating and a near disaster that almost sidetracked it at a Storyteller’s Night here in Ventura County. It’s a new thing sponsored by our local Gannett newspaper and I felt drawn to participate as a way to meet others in the storyteller community where I live. I just had my second coaching this morning and excited to tell the story of how Sara proposed to me nine days after our first date. Though in her defense, it was an accident.  And, unfortunately neither of us knew that for another six months. If you’re local and want to join me on February 21, you can get tickets here. It’s at a comedy club with six other storytellers.

Then,  I’m off for a quick weekend in Phoenix and gathering with lots of others who are on this journey…   Saturday afternoon is the time for our larger conversation if you want to join us. We’ll be meeting at 1:00 in the afternoon, taking a dinner break and re-convening at 7:00 for more time in the evening.  You are welcome at either or both.

But I know when people are asking what’s next, they often mean what book project. I have begun work on a novel called The Healing, that’s been in my heart for a long time. I thought I was going to put in on hold for another book that seemed to be crowding the novel out of my heart. However, on my recent trip those books came together as one book. The plot of the story I wanted to tell fit perfectly with the content I wanted to write helping people discovery how to synch their heart with the way God works in the world.  I am so excited as to how those tow are coming together.

However, God seems to be opening some doors again in the work I used to do with BridgeBuilders, helping mediate disputes over political and social issues. I’ve been asked to do a TEDx event at Abilene Christian University to address the increasing polarizing political discourse in our nation. It’s called “Differences Don’t Have to Divide Us” on March 23.  In addition, I’ll also be staying in Texas for a few days surrounding the TEDx event, first in Dallas/Ft. Worth, and after in the Abilene/Sweetwater area, though those gatherings have yet to be sorted out.

You can get information about the TEDx event here if you’re in the area and want to attend. The vitriol and name-calling going on in our country is not only tearing apart the fabric of our culture, but it is leading to government paralysis and decisions that only serve one side of an argument and are quickly overturned after a new election. Historically, our best decisions have been made in the collaboration of reasonable Americans who may see the issue differently but who both have a greater commitment to the common good than using government to serve their preferences or special interests.  Now both major parties put party loyalty over the good of the country and society is becoming unraveled.

At the same time I’ve been asked to collaborate on a book called The Language of Healing, along with a good friend and possibly the former mayor of a large western city.  It will deal similarly with how we can lower the adversarial rhetoric dominating our national politic, and rebuild a common ground that serves a wider interest than the narrow-margin political victories our representatives, media, and lobbyists have fostered.  There is a better way to govern, and a better way to talk to our friends and neighbors about our political and social differences. Why do people think that obnoxiousness will endear people to their point of view, or think that anyone who disagrees with them is stupid or a bad American. Mutual respect across our differences will not only help us listen better to the concerns of our fellow-citizens, but also lead to more enduring solutions to the desperate issues facing our country.

I find it interesting that both the similarly themed book opportunity and TEDx speech have converged at this time. I’m not sure where it will lead, but I’m going to follow Jesus down this trail until I see what he might have in mind.

So the next few months won’t be boring…



Beyond Sundays Releases This Week

As I’m finishing up in North Carolina and prepare to head home tomorrow, we have just heard that we will have copies of Beyond Sundays in hand by this Wednesday. We will begin shipping pre-orders as soon as we get them.  If you haven’t pre-ordered your copy yet, you can still do so in the next few days and get our $2.00 pre-publication discount. Just order as many copies as you want here.  The e-book should follow later this week. We’ll post the links when its available at all your favorite e-book outlets.

It is my hope that this book helps the body of Christ be less tribal and open to all the ways that God moves in people and the variety of expressions by which his church takes shape in the world. If we cared more about whether or not someone is finding their life in Jesus rather than where they are (or aren’t) at 10:00 Sunday morning we’d be free to celebrate what God is doing to unify his bride, rather than judging each other for our differences.

Friday morning I did my first extensive interview about Beyond Sundays on the Vince Coakley show on WBT Charlotte. That’s Vince and I above sharing a meal together afterwards. He did a great job getting to the heart of the book. If you missed that interview you can listen to it here:

On another note, I’ve had the most amazing time the last two weeks traveling to Jacksonville, FL and then up through North Carolina from Raleigh to Charlotte. One of the real themes of this trip is the number of people I’ve met, of all ages, who are standing just on the cusp of a new journey outside of religious obligation and  performance and discovering what it means to live in the affection of a gracious Father. Yes, it is disorienting and it may well drive your friends and family crazy, but you were created to know the Father, not to try to impress him with how good you can be.

Living in his love is not the reward of a life well-lived, but the starting gate for the adventure of a lifetime where love slowly but surely wins us into his reality, life, and freedom. And it’s yours for the asking.  Asking him, of course, not me!



Beyond Sundays Hits the Airwaves

Friday morning I will be discussing the release of my newest book with Vince Coakley on his radio show in the Greenville/Charlotte area. If you want to listen in you can do so here through the website. We will go live from 11:05 Eastern Standard Time, 8:05 Pacific.  I always look forward to my lively chats with Vince and his audience.

Beyond Sundays is being finalized at the printers now. We should have them early next week, well ahead of our February 8 release date. We will ship the books just as soon as we have them on hand. The e-book should debut shortly thereafter as well. We’ll provide all the links here, though you can go ahead now and pre-order the printed copy for a $2.00 discount.

I’ll also be hanging out in the Charlotte area for the weekend if you’re nearby and want to join us.  Get details here.



A Conversation We Desperately Need

We are in the final stages of publishing Beyond Sundays, and have set the release date as February 8, 2018. This is my newest title, adapted from a series of blog articles about the phenomenon of the “Dones”, those who have given up on institutional Christianity not to forsake the way of Jesus, but in hopes of finding a more vital and authentic faith beyond it.

What are we to make of this trend and how will it impact Christianity in the Western world? Some view it as threatening its future, while others see hope in re-centering the faith once delivered to the saints. Unfortunately there is much animosity and simplistic judgments between these groups that only fractures the bride he loves so much. Literally for Christ’s sake, we need to find a way to converse about these things in love and in a way that recognizes all the ways God is at work in our world.

This book is an appeal for the all those who seek to follow Christ to be less focused on on where others are or aren’t on Sunday morning at 10:00 and more aware of what it is to engage a vital relationship with God, and to share his love freely with others.

The book is 176 pages long and we will print copies in paperback for $11.99 and in e-book for $5.99. However, you can get our pre-order special for only $10.00.  Please be advised that if you order other products from Lifestream in the same order, all products will ship together when this book is available. If you want them sooner, please order those other products separately.

If you’d like a review copy for an article you want to write about it, please contact me for a free review copy.

We hope to have copies on hand during the first week of February and will ship them just as soon as we get them in hand. An e-book will also be available through all major outlets around the same time. We will announce that in the blog when they are ready.

Here is an excerpt from the book:


In the last few decades, sixty-five million Americans who once regularly attended a local congregation no longer do. About thirty-five million of those no longer self-identify as Christian, but over thirty-one million still do. This last group has been tagged “The Dones”: those who still seek to follow Jesus and find real community, but who have given up hope that the local congregation is still relevant to their journey.

What do we make of this phenomenon? Does it threaten the future of God’s work in our world, or does it create new opportunities for God to make himself known, even if it challenges our hopes or preconceptions?

I have spent my life in both places. I grew up in a traditional congregation and pastored in two of them for over twenty years. For the past twenty-three, however, I’ve spent more time outside with those who no longer participate in a Sunday (or Saturday) morning institution. I see the animosity between the two camps, and I yearn for the day when we can have a healing dialog consistent with the prayer of Jesus that we would all be one. Nothing, he said, would demonstrate his reality better to the world than the love his people share together.

It’s a conversation we desperately need, and not just between various factions of Christianity. I hope this book can seed that conversation between friends and families in communities throughout the world. Whether you attend a local church or whether you don’t, responding to this phenomenon will have repercussions for generations to come. We can continue to treat each other with suspicion and judgment that further fracture our Father’s family, or we can celebrate all the ways he works to bring people to himself and transform them in his love.

Additionally, I hope this book encourages those who have lost their mooring in institutional Christianity and yet still hunger for a relationship with God and real community with others. The failures of organized religion do not discount God’s reality or your opportunity to get to know him. I want to help you navigate a life of growing faith and impact in the world beyond the institutional borders that may have harmed you.

This is a propitious moment in Christian history, and all the more so as the world darkens around us. May we all respond in a way that allows the glory of the Lord to arise out of the love of his people, and by doing so, proclaim to the world that our God is real and worthy to be followed.

Why a Wayne Jacobsen Book?

I am appreciative to all of you who weighed in on my dilemma as to what to title my new book. There were a lot of great suggestions, and I appreciate being able to think this through alongside your input.  At this point I think I’m going to go with:  Beyond Sundays: Why Those Giving up on Organized Religion May Not Be Bad for the Church. Of course no title is final until the book is sent to the printers!

Now I want to ask for a bit more help.

And this is riskier, at least for me.

It realize this could be misinterpreted as an exercise in self-aggrandizement. I hope it isn’t that. Many books include endorsements from other authors and celebrities about the content of the book. I have in the past included “endorsements” from normal, every-day people instead of celebrities because that’s the lifeblood of this family. And endorsements of the content really help those who are not familiar with my stuff to have an idea whether or not a book is worth their time.

For this book, however, rather than commenting on the content, I’d like to have comments from readers about the author. In other words, if a friend of yours asked, why they might find a book by me helpful, how would you answer them?  How has God used them to encourage your journey or how do I come off as a person or writer?

Honestly this isn’t an attempt to get people to say a lot of nice things about me here, or on social media. I’m not fighting off an identity crisis and need people to stoke my ego for a few days. I just want to have something different in the front of the book.  You can post here, or send them to me personally. I’m planning to select about 20 of them to include in the front of the book, and maybe on the cover copy.

So, try to answer this question, “Why would I want to read a book by Wayne Jacobsen?” Keep them short. The more creative the better. Don’t overstate it. If you know me personally you might have something to say that will help the reader think beyond the book itself. Two or three sentences will do. Please include how you would like to be identified, e.g. “Pam a third-grade teacher in Wisconsin”, or “Matt, a father of two in Port Elizabeth, SA”.

I hope that makes sense. You have no idea how such recommendations open a door for people who are considering a book, but are not quite sure if the author is worth their time. I hope this is different enough to be a bit of fun for you.



Torn Between Two Titles

I’m finishing up my newest book, which I have tentatively called The Phenomenon of the Dones. I’ve written these chapters as part of my blog over the last two years and posted the last chapter, To the Saints Scattered…, a few weeks ago. Now I’m going through and revising all the chapters as well as rearranging them to make it flow better. I hope to have it available early in 2018 as an e-book and printed book.

But lately I’ve been reconsidering the title. Since “The Dones” as a term has not really caught on in the wider faith culture, I’m considering switching the title to Beyond Sundays.  So, I want to use my readers here as a focus group.  Do you have a preference, and if so why?  Reading your thoughts and comments, either here on the blog or on my Facebook page will help me sort out the best way to go here.

So, which do you think would be most helpful to find it’s audience?

Option 1:

The Phenomenon of the Dones
Why Those Giving Up on the Traditional Congregation May Not Be Bad News for the Church


Option 2:

Beyond Sundays
Pursuing a Life in Jesus Outside the Traditional Congregation

Thoughts, anyone?

I’m torn between the two, so I would appreciate hearing how these hit some of you.

Jake Colsen Rides Again

I love how this book finds its way to people when they seem to need it most. What started as a fun project between two friends to try to tell a story of someone learning to live loved on a website, became a book that has sold way beyond my expectations. In addition, the free version has been downloaded hundreds of thousands of times. I never realized how much

Just this past week, I received two emails from people who have recently been touched by this story. First, from a brother in Canada:

I just finished reading the book for the SECOND time! I have read some of your other material and I listened to the Transition series,but up until recently I had been unable to download this book for some reason  (I think it was God’s timing, personally).
We have been in formal church settings for many years until recently. I had become increasingly frustrated with the lack of  opportunity in most Christian meeting to really have any kind of meaningful connections with other believers. It seemed easier in the local restaurants and coffee  shops to connect with people. Although I really love worshipping God with much of the current  worhip music, I found that the  tendencies of ‘worship leaders’ in local assemblies to try  to manipulate how people respond to God in the times of corporate praise was a huge distraction to my connection with God and often irritating.
We are now one of the ‘Dones’. I do meet with other believers often and have great time of fellowship. I just wanted to tell you a bit about myself and also to express my appreciation for this book. My eyes were opened to many things and already I can see God working in my heart in new desires of how I can walk relationally with people instead of religiously. I also took to heart the wisdom of not trying to ‘convert’ people to these new ideas if they are not ready to hear them!
You are a great blessing to the body of Christ. Thank you for all the material you have made available.
And this from a sister in Montana:

I just wanted to tell you how deeply I was moved by your book So You Don’t Want to Go to Church Anymore: An Unexpected Journey. I had been talking with a friend who is also Christian, but he and his wife no longer attend church services. I was bemoaning to a friend some of the struggles in our church and my agony over the decision of whether to drop my membership. My friend is always very tuned into what Father places in his heart, and he immediately told me to get a pen and write down your name and the title of this book. I ordered the book that afternoon.

From the very beginning I was so captivated that I couldn’t put it down. It answered a question I had long pondered: Why do we need pastors to interpret the Bible for us? Why do we need others teaching us what to think and believe? Isn’t the Bible alone adequate to instruct us? Churches, I had observed, often become clubs with cliques, to varying degrees, with people chasing the desire for popularity or bowing under the weight of guilt and obligation. This book set free the lifelong belief instilled in me of the necessity of attending church every Sunday in order to prove my faithfulness as a disciple of God. I love the idea of Father simply wanting a relationship with us. That is so liberating!

Your book validated feelings I already had, opened my eyes to new thoughts I hadn’t before considered, and did a beautiful job of modeling what genuine Christian fellowship looks like. My only disappointment in it was that John (whom, I’m certain, ALL readers love) moved to Africa. I cried at this ending! I so wanted him to continue teaching us in another book. Any chance of a sequel??

I have ordered two more of your books and will begin reading them soon. Thank you for the blessing you’ve bestowed on humanity by sharing your unique spiritual insight and keen writing. Please keep up this holy work!

Writing is the hardest thing I do these days. As much as I love it when I get the chance, so many other things encroach on my time to write. I currently have a number of projects I’m trying to complete, and encouragement like this always helps me clear the time to keep writing. I spent most of the day Tuesday with a friend that has an amazing idea for a book that taps some of my BridgeBuilders passion from years ago.  That’s all I needed was another project to add to the six others I’m working on.  God will definitely have to sort out what gets done and what doesn’t.

And for those interested in the Jake Movie, we are still seeking the best way to fund that.  A lot of connections keep happening that encourage us to press forward, so we’re hopeful, but as yet far from the finish line. I’m content to leave this in Father’s hands. If he wants us to do it, he’ll have a way to fund it.


Nine Fatal Mistakes of Self-Publishing

Yet another self-published book arrived on my desk last week. Just looking at it my heart sank. Regardless of what was inside the presentation of the book itself screamed, “Don’t read me!” Somebody had poured their heart and soul into that book, but it is highly unlikely that it will find an audience beyond the immediate friends and acquaintances of the one who wrote it.

Writing a book isn’t easy. Many talk about it; few actually accomplish it. Now that you’re done, you want to share it with the world. Most will first seek out a publisher who will love their book as much as they do and soon discover that the publishing companies you know about won’t even look at your manuscript. They will only take manuscripts from agents and agents are more difficult to find than publishers, and even harder to impress.

After failing to find an agent or publisher, many turn to self-publishing. And why not? In this day of on-line retailers, books-on-demand, and e-books, it has never been easier or cheaper to launch your book into the marketplace. According to Bowker, the company that registers UPC codes, over 700,000 were published last year. That’s a lot. If you want people to find your book in that haystack, it will help to give it every advantage you can.

Over the last few years, I’ve reviewed hundreds of manuscripts and self-published titles because of all the books I’ve published, including my involvement with The Shack.  That title was originally self-published and sold over 24 million copies and was adapted into a feature film. I not only helped re-write the book but then published it when all the publishers I knew turned it down. So I’ve done it all. I’ve published books on my own, with traditional publishers, and even formed a publishing company.

I get more requests to help new authors than I can possibly meet and get anything else done. Ten years ago I wrote an article for Windblown Media about why self-publishing is a credible alternative for first-time authors. However, to find an audience that way you have to avoid certain pitfalls that most self-published authors make.  I’ve even tried to warn some in advance, but most don’t listen. They are so excited about their work to take a step back and consider that how they put the book together will have more impact on their book’s reach, than what they’ve written.

So here’s what I think is important for your book to reach beyond your family and friends and find an audience with people who do not know you. Take it for what it’s worth. I have made most of these mistakes, as have a few big-time publishers. These are not ironclad rules and you are free to ignore them. And, yes, I know there are books that violate these and still found their way to the top of best-seller lists, but that’s often in spite of their failures not because of them.

But here are my nine fatal mistakes of self-publishing:

1.  Writing to yourself

I realize that journaling your own story is very helpful for people to process their journey. That may be a story you need to tell but it won’t be the story others will want to read unless it is written to them. This isn’t testimony-time at church no matter how compelling your story or how many people have told to write it. The reader doesn’t care about your life, they care about theirs and how what you have learned in your journey will answer some of the needs and struggles on their own.

Ninety percent of the manuscripts I receive are memoirs, where the author assumes people who don’t know them will be interested in reading their life story. Try as I might to get them to abandon the format to make their book accessible to others, most don’t listen. The book falls flat, leaving some incredible wisdom unavailable to people who would have benefited by it. Writing a memoir is the privilege of the famous, and even then someone else usually writes it for them. Your story may be an illustration of what you’re writing; your book needs to be about the life lesson that will help your order.


2. Not making your book unique

With all the books being written on similar subjects find something that makes your book unique. Most people think their story or their “take” is unique enough, but books that do well have a unique aspect that gets others talking. Is it especially funny, thought-provoking, emotionally compelling, or has a plot twist that will take the reader by surprise.

Book sales are driven by word-of-mouth, which has become so much easier through social media. If your readers are excited about it, they will talk about it, quote it, and encourage others to pick it up. Advertising your book, while helpful, is not enough. It will not overcome people feeling like they’ve read this before. Word-of-mouth has to come from a genuine passion to communicate effectively and uniqueness is the key to that passion.  And don’t beg your friends to all buy it at the same time on Amazon so you can claim it as a best-seller. That will only backfire as a cheap trick. Until you find something unique about your story or the way you’re telling it, you’re not ready to publish it.

We knew we had something with The Shack early on, because we didn’t just get good feedback, we had our reviewers begging us to let them pass the manuscript on to their friends. They weren’t trying to do us a favor, but doing what they desperately wanted to do.  If your friends aren’t that excited about it, others won’t be either.


3.  Not cutting enough

Regardless of how long your book is when you think you’ve finished it, cut it by another 20%. I learned this by working for Leadership Journal as a contributing editor. When I was done with an article and thought it as streamlined as possible, they would make me cut another 20%. It was always better when it was tighter, more focused, and when every unnecessary word or illustration was removed. Self-published authors don’t cut enough. Their writing comes off as indulgent since they haven’t made the important choices for their reader.

When you write a good book, it takes on a life of its own. There are things you might want to include, but it will weigh the story down with meanderings that will lose the reader’s interest. With so much out there to read, most are just looking for an excuse to put down your book and get on to the next one. You have to grab your reader from page one and hold them throughout.   I know it’s hard to leave out the good stuff you’ve written that the book does not demand. It’s easier to include everything than to make the hard choices between what you want and what is essential. To be honest even most books by publishing companies are too long with too many unnecessary words, usually adjectives. Simple and direct adds to the artistry of a good read.


4.  Talking down to the reader

 Everyone appreciates a little respect. Don’t treat your reader like a child, telling him how to read your book and what she should get out of it. Real experts trust their material to make their case and don’t embellish it by trying to come off as a know-it-all. Be genuine with your reader, alongside them as they consider your words.

Don’t italicize words so they know how you want them to read it. When you’re giving them your advice, don’t use “you must,” “you need to,” or “you should”. It will make them defensive instead of receptive. Trust them to find the meat and chew on it.


5.  Not getting honest feedback

If all your friends love your book, you’re not getting honest feedback. There’s no book that can be improved or focused more clearly. We went through four re-writes of The Shack, each time submitting it to people we knew would be critical of it. And we listened, incorporating the changes we could to make the story better.

Where did the story work? Where did it get bogged down? You don’t’ just need an English teacher friend to proof it for grammar; you need a content editor to tell you where the story goes off-track, doesn’t make sense, or lags. If your friends only give you positive feedback, draw them out by asking what would make it better, or what’s the weakest part of the book. Getting their honest thoughts and adapting it to the manuscript will make it stronger when it gets to your audience.


6.  Using an unprofessional cover design

Everyone has a friend who is a graphic artist, or the author has already worked out the cover in his own mind and simply looks for someone to produce it. The result is it looks cheap, without the appropriate text on the front and the back cover most inviting to the reader. Fully ninety-five percent of the self-published books I receive look cheaper and less inviting than the content inside would warrant.

What got The Shack recognized at Barnes and Noble was the cover. It was on a review table of self-published books when the buyer pulled it off and handed it to her assistant thinking it was in the wrong place because of its design. Her assistant assured her that it was a self-published book, but the cover alone got her to begin to give it a good look. Within a few hours, they were ordering 25,000 copies for the front of the stores nationwide.

Your friends and acquaintances will read your self-published book, but their friends and colleagues won’t if it looks self-published. If it looks cheap, they’ll conclude it is cheap without giving it a look. Your book should look exactly like it was produced by a major publisher, even including a publishing company name that sounds real. The design will cost some money, but it is the most important part of a book’s presentation. Find a designer that has already published books in the market place and make sure your book looks like those you see in a bookstore.


7.  Getting cute with the inside layout

Just like the cover, you want the interior to beckon the reader’s eyes, not repel them.  There’s a reason why publishers print books with wide margins and use fonts that are pleasant to read. They invite the eye to the text. Books printed with fonts like Arial, Comic, or Helvetica may look unique, but they are hard on the eyes and people will have an aversion to reading them.

Authors who try to save page count with too small a font or too narrow a border are telling their readers, “Don’t read this!” I understand why they want to save money, but you’re only hurting yourself in the long run. Better to edit down the book to save space rather than make the text look unprofessional or overwhelming.


8.  Paying someone else to publish it for you

Vanity publishing is quite an industry. They will help you print your book, get a cover, and “distribute it to the trade.” They will tell you they can get it into bookstores, but don’t expect that they will. If they are charging you to ”help” with your book, they’ve already made their money. They know the average self-published book doesn’t sell well, so they make their money when they sold you the publishing package. They will send out informational brochures to retailers and put them on a website, but most have way too many titles to represent yours well. Don’t expect to see your book in stores or for them to get you interviews.

I realize finding your own editor, cover designer, layout person, and then getting it distributed is a huge growth curve and you may want those services all in one place for you. That may be worth the cost; just don’t expect them to do more than that.


9.  Expecting an audience to show up out of thin air

“I know this is going to sell a million copies.” I’ve heard that at least a dozen times from aspiring authors. They have no idea what it takes to sell that many, nor does anyone else or every book would sell a million.. According to BookScan, which tracks most bookstore, online, and other retail sales of books, only 299 million books were sold in 2008 in the U.S. in all adult nonfiction categories combined. The average U.S. book is now selling less than 250 copies per year and less than 3,000 copies over its lifetime.

Too many authors just think that because their book is in the marketplace it will sell well, and most come away extremely disappointed. Making your book known among the other 700,000 books published each year will take some work on your part. What will separate you from the pack? Creating an audience before your book comes out. What have you already done to help find an audience? Do you blog? Do you submit articles to websites and magazines consistent with what you want to write? Post sample chapters a few months before to see if people become engaged with your story or the counsel you wish to share. If you can’t find an audience for articles or blogs online you most likely won’t find one with your book.


Not every book is meant to be a best-seller, nor does it need to be. Some of the best books I’ve read didn’t sell well and some of the best letters I’ve received about one of my books have touched me so much that it would have been worth writing it if they alone had read it. Success is not found at the top of best-seller lists, but knowing that you’ve put something in the world that touches the lives of others, whether it be for a million, or a hundred and fifty.

It is easy to publish a book these days, but it isn’t easy to find its audience. That will depend on you providing the most inviting package possible. None of these guarantee anything, of course, but each will at least give your book the chance to fly.

Some News on the Home Front

I just have some quick notes to let you in on here since many of you have been asking and praying about Sara and what we’re up to this fall.

First, for those interested I’m going to be on The Vince Coakley Radio show tomorrow morning (Friday) at 11:05 Eastern Daylight Time (8:05 PDT) that airs in Greenville, South Carolina on WORD 106.3. Vince is a good friend of mine and has asked me to talk about The Nashville Statement that came out last week and my response to it that caused no small stir on my web page.  You can find out more about the show here, and if you want to listen in you can stream it live using the button at the top right of that page.  You’ve got to listen when it airs; there is no podcast posted later. Sorry.

Also, next week my wife, Sara, will be having hip-replacement surgery at UCLA Medical Center. This has been a long year for her with a number of medical challenges that have hampered her from many of the things she enjoys. Over the last year we have tried every other option and honestly feel this is our next step. We don’t need medical advice and know a number of people who have enjoyed the benefits of this surgery.  We would appreciate your prayers as she goes through this and I will be taking the time to nurse her through the recovery.

There will be new podcasts this Friday and next, though the rest of my pages may be quiet during this time.  Our friends in Pokot can use your help as they are learning to farm their own crops around the wells we drilled them. Remember these tribes have been nomadic for centuries, and are only now learning to grow crops instead of scavenging for food wherever they can.

After this, who knows where the Lord will lead us. If she recovers well from surgery I am planning on being in France and Belgium at the end of October, and though I have other trips to consider, I’m not confirming that or scheduling anything further until we get through surgery. This should give me some time to write and finish up a few things around here.

I Lift My Eyes To the Mountains!

When I was a little boy our family always vacationed in the Sierra Nevada mountains above Fresno. No place on earth rejuvenates my heart and soul as much as some time spent in the pines, alpine lakes, and rocky outcroppings of the Sierras. That’s where we are headed today to visit my dad and to enjoy a two-week vacation. Some of that will be with our extended family who will join us for a week, and some of that will be Sara and I just relaxing together. This past year has been brutal physically for us. I’ve undergone two surgeries and Sara one. And Sara will have one more in the next month or so. She has been in constant pain since last year at this time and we’re hopeful that hip-replacement surgery will soon provide the relief she needs. It seems we’ve spent most of the last year in hospitals or in recovery, or in my case being on the road to the midwest, east coast, and most recently South Africa.

So you can expect these pages to be quiet for the next few weeks.  After I get home I’ll be helping my son move to Denver where he’s taken a new job at the University of Denver, and it happens to coincide with the solar eclipse in late August. You can also expect me to get hopelessly behind on my email, so it might be best not to write me until August 15 if you need an intelligent answer.  At the end of the month I’ll be in Amarillo, TX. I’m not sure where else I’ll end up this fall. There’s talk of going to North Carolina and possibly to France, but we’ve got to get Sara’s surgery sorted out first, and then I’ll be announcing what other travel I’ll be able to get in this year.

However, during this time book orders will still go out, since we have people covering that for us.

Until then…

Blessings and love to al our friends around the world,

Lifestream Audio Close-Out

We will no longer be selling CDs of Wayne’s audio teachings here at Lifestream. Over the years the income we have derived from these sales has helped us pay for our websites and some of our other projects in the world, but the time of CD audio is passing so we’re going to discontinue the infrastructure we’ve needed to keep this going.

You can access the free recordings on-line here.

So beginning today the audio teachings we think are the most helpful will be joining the free side of our website. You can listen to them online, or download them to include in your mp3 player. We will not continue to make and sell CDs.  However, for those who would prefer a CD, we are having a close-out sale of those remaining in stock. If you would like to have them, you’ll need to write to our office and let us know which ones you want. We will be selling them at half-price, plus postage.  Because supply is limited you’ll need to claim yours by writing Sara ( and she will let you know if they are still in stock, and what the cost will be including shipping.  Then you can go to our On-line Giving Page and pay for your order there.

The CD collections we still have in stock are:
  • Transition (8 CDs)
  • Combo Book Disc (1 mp3 disc) HE LOVES ME and SO YOU DON’T WANT TO GO TO CHURCH ANYMORE in mp3 files with Wayne reading
  • Heart of Relational Church Life (4 CD)
  • Letting Jesus Perfect Your Faith (4 CD)
  • Letting Jesus Take Shape in You (4 CD)
  • Living in Father’s Delight (4 CD)
  • Abiding in the Vine (1 CD)
  • Seasons of the Vineyard (4 CD)
  • Essentials of the Journey (4 CD)
  • Finding Your Place in the Body  (4 CD)
  • Get real! Get Free! Get Holy!  (3 CD)
  • Living in God’s Reality  (4 CD)
  • Living in His Kingdom  (4 CD)
  • Power of the Cross  (4 CD)
  • Security of Father’s Love  (4 CD)
  •  Sharing the journey (2 CD)
  • Thinking Outside the Box (4 CD)
  • Will the Real You Please Stand Up  (3 CD)
  • Superdisc (mp3 files of all audio recordings)

When these are gone, they’re gone. We’re not going to be printing any more CDs. I remember when we stopped audio cassettes, and now CDs…. Technology just keeps shifting. Downloadable audio is so much easier, and now it’s free as our gift from Lifestream!

FINDING CHURCH Now Available in French as Découvrir l’église

The book on the left is one of the first copies of Finding Church in French. The man on the right is my good friend Silvio Viotti who translated the work as he as done with many of my other books.  He has done all this as a labor of love simply to make these works available to the French-speaking world. Thank you, Silvio, for your service to the Gospel in this way. I hear from so many who are touched by the availability of these books in French.

The evangelical community in France is incredibly small and those looking outside the borders of the traditional congregation are even smaller. So these don’t sell in great quantities there, but they do provide some encouragement to those who are learning to live more freely in the life of Jesus.

Sara and I have been with Silvio and his wife Dominique many times over the past decade. We met them first at their home in Switzerland, but have also enjoyed their company in the U.S., Ireland, England, France, Israel, and Italy. I’m so happy that this project is finally done.

If you know anyone who wants FINDING CHURCH in French, they can find it here.  It is only €4,50 for a copy. (They also have He Loves Me as Il M’aime! and So You Don’t Want to Go to Church Anymore as Alors tu ne veux plus aller à l’église?)

It is also available in German, Dutch, and Spanish as Encontrando a la Iglesia in free PDF Download.  You can find links to all our international translations here.

In addition to the original book in English, it is also available by audio through Audibles and iTunes. Also, there are a number of us doing a study through Finding Church, just about to start Chapter 15 at the Lifestream Discussion Forum.  You can join us where we are or start back at the beginning.

Here’s one of my favorite quotes from the book:

The church of the new creation is more like wildflowers strewn across an alpine meadow than a walled garden with manicured hedges. I realize such a seemingly amorphous view of the church will make many nervous, especially those who think it their God-given duty to manage a group of people on his behalf or else the church can’t exist. But it can. And I’m not advocating for the isolated, everyone-is-a-church-to-themselves idea. The church takes her expression in relationships we have with others who are also following him—local friendships as well as international connections that he knits together.



Going Live at 1:00 pm Pacific Time Today

I’m not sure what I’m getting into here, but I was invited by Bill Hale to appear on his radio show on the Liberty Works Radio Network this afternoon, starting at 1:00 Pacific Time (4:00 Eastern). They wanted to talk about my life, The Shack, and my past work with Bridgebuilders, so it should be a wide-ranging conversation. They asked if it was OK to get into some controversial stuff, and I told them it was fine with me. So I have no idea where this will go. You can listen along here if you like.

But first, this morning, I’m doing some recording with Brad for future shows of The God Journey. So I will be doing my share of talking today.

We’ve been inundated with orders for He Loves Me after reducing the price to $9.00 for those who wanted copies. That will continue for another week if you want to get in on it. I’ve also had many people write me to let me know that So You Don’t Want to Go to Church Anymore was their favorite book, so maybe we’ll have to do something there down the road. I’m always glad to get these books out further in the world and help others discover the joy of a living relationship with a gracious Abba.

In Celebration Our Offices Are Closed This Week

No, it doesn’t seem possible.  Forty-two years ago this week, Sara and I were married and thus began an adventure that has exceeded both our expectations and in this season of our lives brings us great joy and support through the twists and turns of life.

Who would have thought? We’ve had many friends not make it this far, who  have been deeply hurt as the life-long marriage they thought they were in came unraveled with pain and heartbreak. We’ve known those whose spouses have passed away at far younger ages. Our hearts go out to all of them. A long-term marriage is nothing to boast about; it is its own reward. We don’t think we’re anything special to get along this far and have been through some of the intense struggles that sometimes shipwrecks good relationships. I’m just grateful we’ve both had the strength to stay true to the promises we made to each other, that we keep finding our way to mutual love and respect even though we are built very differently and have differing tastes in so many things. In fact this longevity feels like a whole lot of grace. The joy has been in learning how to lay down our lives for the other and love more deeply at each unfolding season of our lives.

This week we are taking some time just to be together and to enjoy the fruits of Father’s work in our relationship. While I have amazing friends all over the world there is no one I’d rather be with than Sara. She is far and away my best friend. I love our laughter, conversations, and even though we know so much about the other we can still be surprised when something unexpected pops out. I always look forward to an extended time for just the two of us to be together and celebrate the love that continues to grow between us.

However, since this is a two-horse operation most of the time, that means we’ll close the office until Monday, May 21 and apologize for an inconvenience that may cause you with book orders or travel invitations. You see, none of this happens without Sara. She is truly the unsung hero of Lifestream, Kenya, the God Journey, and everything else that goes on around here. She is the office manager and detail person. Without her I couldn’t do what I do in writing, podcasting, or traveling. Every time I travel I leave with her blessing because of what she gives up in our time together so that others can be enriched in the world. I love it when people acknowledge the price Sara pays when I’m out of town. I couldn’t go out as often if she wasn’t so committed to the work we do in the world and so capable of handling all things Jacobsen while I’m gone and does it with such grace and joy. While that means some lonely nights for her, she is fully on board with any trip I take, or I don’t take it.

When people ask why Sara doesn’t travel with me all the time, the answer is it is not as much her calling as it is mine. She has traveled with me a lot, but being more introverted a day of conversation with new people completely wears her out and she will need a couple of days to recover. Me?  Not so much. I can keep going for two weeks or so in conversations that span almost the entire day and with multiple groups. Though Sara is welcome to come with me any time she wants, I am able to give myself far more to the people I’m with if she’s home taking care of the rest of our lives. It’s not easy doing what I do and when she has the grace for it she comes. If not, I’d rather have her here at home with the family, dogs, and garden she loves. And when I get to be home, she is great at really being present with me.  Also Sara has some health issues now and diet restrictions that make it very difficult to travel and she hates to inconvenience others who would need to accommodate those. I know most wouldn’t mind just to have Sara there, but it is hard on her. We’re still hopeful that some of this will improve in the months to come.  That’s our prayer, anyway.

I always told Sara that my calling didn’t have to be hers. She’s my wife, and what we share together is incredibly special, and all the more because our absences really do make the heart grow fonder.

So if you can hold that correspondence you’re dying to have with me until next week, we’d appreciate it.

Conversations About the Law and Freedom

This week I was back on the set of A Christian and A Muslim Walk into a Studio for a conversation with Bob and Ermza about the Law and how Jews, Christians, and Muslims look at this differently.  The episode is called A Follow-up Conversation With Wayne Jacobsen. I loved the conversation and think we not only unpacked things we view in common, but also the differences we have between us. One of the most revealing aspects for me is how Muslims view the Bible in line with the Quran.  Their final revelation from God comes in that book, and thus they judge everything in the Old Testament and New Testament by how it is interpreted in that book. Thus, they don’t have a lot of regard for Paul’s teaching and why they end up seeking to attain grace through law.  It’s a fascinating discussion and one that also reveals how much hope Muslims put in mercy and compassion as well.  It’s also lengthy… about an hour and twenty-two minutes.  What can I say? We were exploring some big issues.

Also, I recorded a podcast a few months ago with Jared Gustafson that is just airing now on New Nature’s Podcast.  It’s called Slinging Freedom Everywhere with Wayne Jacobsen.  We talk about moving from religious obligation to an intimate and transforming relationship with Jesus Christ. We talk about how to embrace the dynamics of a growing relationship over trying to conform ourselves to God’s expectations by our own will and performance.  I hope you find it helpful. It’s shorter, only 48 minutes.

In Recovery Again

Just when I thought I’d survived my birthday and was getting back to a more normal routine, a medical emergency again intervened. I woke up on March 22 in the middle of the night with severe abdominal pain. Thinking it was food poisoning from the night before I tried to ride it out. By 5:30 am, I knew that wasn’t possible and woke up Sara to head for the Emergency Room. Being so close to my heart surgery, the doctors’ first concern was that summon the sac around my heart had either ruptured or become infected. Early tests indicated otherwise, which sent them down another track. After two days of testing the discovered that I needed my gall bladder removed, which was done on Friday morning by laparoscopic surgery that took four different small incisions to do the deed. I returned home later that afternoon to begin recovery.


Welcome to my life! What a crazy four months it has been since my last surgery, recovery, two-week trip to Jordan and Israel, back for THE SHACK opening and then quick trips to Wyoming and Montana. I thought I was getting my groove back. In fact, I had finally scheduled the make-up trip that my heart surgery cancelled, to Michigan and Wisconsin at the end of April and early May.

I just got a call from the hospital doctor that the biopsy showed no bacteria and no malignancies, so I’m grateful for that. But honestly, I’d rather be in Vermont tonight, which was my original plan than sitting home nursing a very sore abdomen. I was supposed to be on the east coast between Boston and Baltimore with lots of people I was looking forward to seeing. It’s hard to be on the bench again, or should I say couch and I am feeling a bit too badly at the moment to even make use of the time to write. Hopefully that will change by the end of the week. And guess what, I’ve got to start walking again for a couple of weeks until more strenuous activity is allowed.

There are times when things like this come up and I can see how God wonderfully spins these things together. Even my heart surgery with its cancellations seemed important to take care of a congenital need I had and the fact that it didn’t keep me from the Israel trip was a bonus. This last week, however, has seemed more like an attack of some kind, as if the enemy thwarted something God was about. That happens too. Paul wrote to the Thessalonians about his attempt to visit them again, “For we wanted to come to you — I, Paul, more than once — and yet Satan thwarted us.” I don’t know that it was Satan in my case. I’m sure a lessor demon would have done, but I’ve been feeling a bit robbed this week.

Oh, we’ll reschedule the time back east, already looking to nail down early June, but it’s more than that. And will God make better use of Plan B? Of course he will. He’s just like that. But that doesn’t mean that his way always unfolds without conflict. That’s why he calls us to be faithful stewards, praying and responding as we are able.

and praying for others too. One of the hardest things to do with growing trust in Father’s affection is not to become fatalistic, and assume that whatever happens is what God wants. There are two kingdoms at war around us. Sometimes because of the obedience and prayers of the saints Father’s will happens, and sometimes the enemy has his way. I have greatly appreciated all those who have written my through this second surgery with prayers for my recovery. Also pray for God’s will to unfold in the places he wants to send me these days. I don’t claim to know for sure, but there seems to be some resistance.

And I know that while we may not win every battle, we do win the war. Victory is guaranteed, I only want to ensure that my heart is yielding every day his lead and that I am brimming full of his life and power.

And I pray that for you, too!

New Travel Dates Announced

Please note: This trip has been postponed due to unexpected surgery.

This week I head for the East Coast with a weekend near Boston before I head over to Milbury, MA and then up into northern Vermont.  I’ll finish the trip with stops in Lancaster, PA, Hagerstown, MD and then have a weekend in Sykesville, MD through April 2. This is a great mix of old friends and new people to discuss the journey with.

I will also be doing a live appearance on a panel for Moody Radio’s Up For Debate radio show on Saturday, March 25 from 11:00 am – 12:00 noon about whether or not we should take our theology from books or movies like THE SHACK.  You can listen to it on line if you want.  I did one with them a year ago on church attendance. That should be fun. And then Brad and I are doing an appearance at USC to engage some college students about the movie on April 19.

Then I’ll finally pull off my make-up trip to Wisconsin and Michigan at the end of April and the beginning of May. This is the trip I had to cancel when my doctors rushed me into open-heart surgery the day before I was supposed to leave in November.  I’m glad to have it re-scheduled.

And then I’m headed to South Africa at the end of June and beginning of July. It’s been a long time since I’ve been there, so I am going to crawl on that 19-hour jet ride to go do a YWAM DTS there and to visit those who’ve enjoyed my books and podcast.

You can get all my travel details on my Travel Page.  If you’re nearby, I’d love to have the chance to meet you.

Last Week Was Crazy!

From the New York Premiere of The Shack movie, to our own home-town opening of the movie with 250 people who flew in and drove in to watch the movie with Brad and me, it was a wild week. It was fun to see so many people who have been God Journey listeners and Lifestream readers and see the work God has been doing in their lives. I’ll post some pictures at the bottom to capture some of the flavors of the weekend here in Thousand Oaks.

As fun as all this has been however, I’ll be glad when all the hoopla settles down and the star of the show isn’t the movie, the actors, Lionsgate, Paul Young, Wayne Jacobsen or Brad Cummings, but God himself.  That was the joy of the book, seeing how God used this story to invite people out of the places they may have gotten stuck into a more compelling relationship with him based on his love and his work, not our own efforts.

It is already doing that. Here are just a few of the emails I got over the weekend as people were seeing the movie all over the country.  (And my apologies to those frustrated readers from other countries who cannot see the movie yet. I ‘m so sorry.  Your turn is coming!)

From a mother in Nashville: My 19 year old son saw it last night. He said “all I can say Mom is Wow! I feel better from just seeing that movie. I just want to hug you!” I don’t know what all God is doing in his heart…  But He has used you and this movie already!!! Can’t wait to see it tomorrow!!!’

Marlowe: Such a POWERFUL movie for anyone who has ever suffered heartache, and struggled to move forward… or wrestled with “why the pain?”… or longed for a closer relationship with God. If you can relate, RUN, don’t walk, to The Shack!!!

Chris: Just saw The Shack with my wife all I can say is wow, so powerful. Broke my heart and put it back together again, it’s life changing.

Jennifer: I’m sitting in the theater parking lot after my 2nd time of seeing it. It was even more amazing than the first. I was a complete movie nerd taking notes because some quotes I do not want to forget.

John: Just wanted to tell you thank you for all you have done. This movie bears your language and words and poetry and love in Christ. During the movie people in voluntarily were calling out. Thank you for all you have done without fanfare or attention.

Loren: Took my family to see The Shack tonight. I did my best to put on my critic hat and leave my personal bias for it at home. My take on it is best summed up by a Darth Vader line, “Impressive! Most impressive!” It was far better than I expected it to be. I haven’t cried like that in the theater since I was ten years old and saw E.T. Plus it was super cool seeing Wayne Jacobsen and Brad Cummings names pop up on the first end credit. I’ve never seen a wide release movie in the theater in which the name of someone I know shows up on the screen. I got so caught up in the movie it actually caught me off guard when their names popped up. That was fun! Great job guys! All the actors were fantastic and overall the movie was great! Totally worth seeing!

Now I’m up in Wyoming and Montana helping some others process this story before I head to the east coast (Boston and Baltimore) at the end of March.

Oh, and here are the pictures I promised

Sara registering people for the movie

Brad and I interacting with the audience after the show

Even the grandkids showed up for the After Party, though two of them didn’t see the movie

Brad and I sharing the story at the After Party

Our celebration cake at the open house the following day


The Shack Opens Tonight

Sara and I returned last night from New York where we attended the Worldwide Premiere of The Shack movie with Brad and Kelly Cummings and their daughter, Taylor. (Here are some short videos from our time there:  from Central Park, from Times Square and from our hotel as we get ready to leave for the airport.) We walked the “red carpet”, but in this case it was gray and even had a chance to talk to some reporters that were enquiring about the movie.

It was a whirlwind of two days, but gave our families time to celebrate the culmination of a very long journey.  Eleven years ago four of us sat in my dining room with a manuscript Paul Young had written for his children, to brainstorm how we could take the heart of that story and make a redemption-themed movie out of it.  We discovered that the first thing we needed to do was turn it into a book and if we could sell 100,000 copies of it in 2 or 3 years we might get the chance to make a movie.

Thus began a 16 month journey to rewrite the book and make it more of a story. The months we worked on the book were some of the most spiritually potent and personally enriching seasons of my life. I’ve never worked with two other men who demonstrated such love, generosity, tenderness and wisdom as we sought to get the story right. We were more concerned with serving the story of God making himself known to a man lost in pain and depression than serving our egos.  As I look back it is clear to me that God brought three unique individuals together with life-experiences and perspectives to help craft and refine this story.  And in the process we were aware that we were part of something greater than ourselves. What came out was bigger than any of us or all of us combined. It was a gift, an invitation God wanted to put into the world and we were merely conduits for it.

Quickly the book found its audience and in a few short months we had already overshot the 100,000-copy runway and interest from movie producers and directors began to pour in. Delight and joy soon gave way to pain as some of the relationships didn’t survive the journey. Even though I knew millions of people were being touched by the story for a time I came to regret my involvement with it. I’d been part of close friends in Jesus separating before, and had promised myself I’d never be part of that again. Yet, here I was despite my best efforts to avoid it.

In the past few months, however, God has drawn me back to that season of collaboration. The sixteen months we wrote together and the eighteen months we were putting it the world as good friends, filled with laughter and friendship and deep, deep sharing of life and heart. And even if others no longer wanted to honor or celebrate it, it didn’t mean that I couldn’t. In the past few months I have come to see this all as an amazing gift God gave through some amazing lives. If you missed that part of the story you can hear Brad, Paul Young and I discuss it in a podcast that aired on January 11, 2008, talk about it here.

I wasn’t involved in the nuts and bolts of making this movie. My friend Brad was, and though he allowed me to look over his shoulder and throw in my two cents worth from time to time, he bore the brunt of an incredibly arduous process. Making a studio movie is balancing a host of agendas and egos that would make you tremble and were always concerned as to how it would come out. This was a painful process in many ways, but honestly this movie would not have come out as true to the book as it did without his hard work and sacrifice. But somehow, through a less-friendly collaboration, God also found a way to shape this gift too. Brad and I could not be more excited at how this movie came out and the touch of Father’s hand that seems to be on it for all kinds of audiences. It stays true to the story and the message and we think you’ll be in for a pleasant surprise.

As Sara and I sat through the premiere showing on Tuesday night, I found myself incredibly grateful for all God has done in this process. As we reminisced with Brad and Kelly it brought such warmth and tenderness to our hearts and an excitement about what this movie might do to invite others to know God. I was asked by a reporter as we went down the “red” carpet what I hoped people would have in their hearts as they walked away from the movie. My answer was that no matter how lost they might be in their own pain or failures, that they would at least wonder if there was a God in the universe looking for them, winning them into his love and freeing them from all the places they got stuck. “If we have to find him on our own, we have little hope. But if he is looking for us then we have all there reason in the world for hope.”

As many of you see the movie you may want to talk about it with others. We are hosting a place at Lifestream for people to comment, ask questions, and process their own journey. You can of course comment on the bottom of this blog, or on the Facebook posting about it.  Or, you can go to our Shack Discussion Forum at Lifestream.  We’re just going to open a door for people to comment, ask questions, or share your favorite moments. You create the topics you’d like to talk with others about and we’ll manage it just to make sure everybody plays nice. You don’t have to love the movie, either to participate. We realize not everyone appreciates art at the same level or hits them in the same way.  However, we’re going to ask you to play nice. Abusive and arrogant postings will be removed.

I do hope you get a chance to see it. And I do hope it draws you ever-closer, not to the characters in the story or those who helped in the process, but to the Father, Son and Spirit themselves. Helping people discover them has been the purpose behind this process. And the frosting on the cake is the friendships it has brought into our lives from all over the world.



Back to Israel!

I probably won’t do this again. I don’t see myself as a “tour operator” in Israel or anythwhere else. I much prefer being a tour operator to help people discover how to live freely in God’s kingdom.

But I promised I would go back, to get my daughter there, after my son and wife went on the last trip. She couldn’t go because of young children at home. So this time she is going along with my niece, and Sara is staying home to help Julie’s husband with the kids. I also decided to go back because of the number of people who wanted me to do it again and said they wanted to go. However, most of them ended up not being able to go this time, so we have a bunch of others.

So in a couple of hours I depart for the airport and an overnight flight to Frankfurt and then to Amman, Jordan. I am looking forward to the next two weeks wandering around some of the most amazing real estate in the world with Brad Cummings and his wife and people from all over the world. We’re going to see some amazing sites in Jordan first, and then in Israel. We’re going to reflect on how this land became so critical to God revealing himself in the world and the unique challenges that it faces until the day the New Jerusalem descends from heaven. I’m always amazed when I’m there that God chose this place of all those on the earth to make himself known. We’re also going to let the Scriptures come to life as we visit places where these things actually happened. And, we’ll have a great time on the bus, around meals, and walking around to get to know each other. Last time a group of strangers became knit together pretty quickly and the sense of family we had there continues to bear fruit across continents since.

We are going to take a boat across Galilee (the picture above is from our last time there) and observe the hills that Jesus would have seen countless times, stare down the Gates of Hell in Caesarea Philippi, stand near the altar Jeroboam built in Dan, be on the mount Jesus where most likely preached his famous sermon, swim in the Dead Sea, go up to Masada, and end our travels in Jerusalem on some of the very stones Jesus walked on, visit the mount where the Temple stood and the traditional sites for his death, burial and resurrection.

I wish you could all go. I know many reading this wish they had the time and resources to have joined us on this trip. I wish you could have as well.  I don’t believe God is any more present in Israel than he is in your own home. God inhabits his universe and we can discover him right where we are as easily as any place else. So I don’t go to Israel to have a more special time with God, though like everywhere else I go, I fully anticipate engaging him there.

And I pray that you, too, wherever you are, will make some time to lean into his reality over the next few weeks. It’s so easy to get caught up in the rush of life that we don’t set time aside to reflect on him and to ask him to make himself known to us.  That’s where this journey thrives, not on Israel trips, in books or by listening to podcasts. This is a journey he wants to take with you. I know that connection takes some time to develop. It may be just inklings at the start, but it will grow into nudges, and then revelation, and then the joy and confidence of knowing he is always with you whether you feel him or not. Your whole life is in his hands and there’s no better place for it to be.

Move Along Now, Nothing to See Here

I have been so grateful for so many of you who have helped carry me through this surgery and recovery. I’ve received so many emails, cards, phone calls from so many of you, as well as shared walks and conversations that have made this all incredibly smooth. This is my last update regarding my heart surgery and recovery.   I am now 10 weeks from surgery and feel as if I’m 90% back to normal. My only limitation now is not exerting my heart too much until it is fully healed. My maximum heart rate for exercise now is about 120 and increases each week. I had my 10-week check up with my cardiologist earlier this week and we couldn’t have been more pleased with the results.  Everything is normal at this stage of recovery and the extensive bloodwork that he did showed everything in the normal ranger and some of my cholesterol numbers he said were great!  Who would have thought?

This has been a bit of an ordeal, but I’m so glad to have come through it as smoothly as I have, thanks to the incredible medical team and the prayers, love, and support from so many family and friends. So now, I’m returning to my normal activities and just in time, too. On Sunday I leave for two weeks in Jordan and Israel. When I had surgery on November 10, I thought I would have to cancel my part in the God Journey Israel Tour. My surgeon told me at the time that would not be necessary, I would be good to go by January 22.  That seemed too incredible to me, and I’m still shocked now that I’m well enough to travel and participate with the tour.

I will continue Cardio Rehab for the next few weeks after I return, an the heart is still completing its healing, but there really isn;t any need for further updates about my medical condition. I’m ready to move on from being the Wayne-who-is-recovering-from-heart-surgery, to just plain old Wayne. After The Shack opens in March, I’ll be returning to my normal schedule. I’m already book travel for this spring and summer. So as far as surgery and recovery are concerned, there’s nothing to see here now. If some complication changes that, I’ll certainly let you know, but in the absence of that let’s all move on to what God is doing in the world and how we participate in that reality.

For those of you interested in joining us for The Shack Showing in Thousand Oaks on March 4, you can purchase your tickets on the web page that will go up tomorrow. I’ll put the link here when it does.  We will also have an after-part after the showing for people who want to converse with Brad and I more about it.

One last thing, I made two appearances on A Christian And a Muslim Walk Into a Studio, a podcast where two men of different faiths hammer out their friendship and share it with the world.  I know, it sounds like the start of a joke, but it’s not. One of the co-hosts is a good friend of mine, Bob Prater, and the other is becoming a good friend, Emad Meerza. Emad describes himself as a seventh-century Muslim and he’s a recognized emir in Central California. He’s a fascinating man with a very open heart. They invited me into their conversation for two episodes. The first airs this week about my involvement with The Shack, and the second (to air next week) is about my former work with BridgeBuilders helping public schools bridge the cultural divide. I think you’ll find these conversations fascinating.  I know I did.


The Shack Movie: Caught Between Reality and Fiction

“Missy was murdered right here.”

The conclusion came with a wave of grief and sorrow I was not anticipating.  It felt as if I stood on holy ground amidst the wooden boards of the dilapidated shack with shards of light piercing the semi-darkness from cracks in the walls. The hole in my heart was so vast I felt loss and lost.

I was so disoriented for a few moments that I’d forgotten all this was fiction. There was no Missy and she had not been murdered. She was part of a story I’d helped to write and in fact this setting was the first chapter I’d rewritten after the prolonged insistence of the original author to help him rework his manuscript. I’d been drawn back to that moment and the setting was exactly as I had imagined it.

No, I wasn’t dreaming I was on the movie set for the film adaptation of this story in July of 2015.  Brad, who had also helped on the rewrite and was now a producer on the film, was showing me the shack set, built out of old barn wood alongside a lake in British Columbia.  We were alone as we walked across he porch and inside the shack.  I took it in, eerily familiar on a visceral level, though I’d only been here in my own imagination.  Seeing it in reality was disorienting, disturbing the line between reality and fiction.

Brad watched me take it in and so he was already looking at me when I turned to him.  “Where?” I mouthed. Any noise seemed so inappropriate here.

Knowing what I was asking he nodded to the floor not far in front of me.  Until that moment I had been on a set.  In the next, my heart plunged into the depths of sorrow as I felt the loss of an innocent little girl to the tortured heart of her killer. My heart began to break with sorrow.

And then reason slowly began to take over.  “Wait a minute. No one died here. This is a movie set.” Like waking from a vivid dream each thought sought to break the hold of my emotional reaction and remind me that this was a simple convention in a fictional story. It took some time, but reason finally won out and I was once again back on a movie set, though still surprised at the emotions it hat provoked. It’s what others had experienced reading the book, that blurring between a fictional story and the reality of our own pain.

That’s what The Shack was designed to do, to carry the pain of its readers before God in a way that would allow him reveal himself as more good and loving than any of us would dare to believe amidst the tortured brokenness of the world we traverse. It seems far easier for us to blame God for our pain than to let him show us a greater reality beyond it and the immense love he holds for his creation.

I wanted to stay there as long as I could and soak in the moment, but we had to move on.  The film crew was elsewhere and we didn’t want to miss the day’s shoot. As we walked back to the car I couldn’t help glancing over my shoulder to take it in. There stood the shack just like we’d imagined it as a crew around it was winterizing it for tomorrow’s shoot. I can’t wait to see what comes from it all.

There’s a mild antipathy inherent in any film production between the film company that wants to creatively adapt the story to a visual medium and those that worked on or enjoyed the book and want to see it stay faithful to the original story. I hear an ominous concern from many readers who love the book so much, fearful they will be disappointed if the film doesn’t live up to their imagination.  They want my assurance that the story is in good hands.

There is much to be done before we’ll know for sure so we’ll have to see what comes of it.  It will be different—a movie and a book have to accomplish different things.  But having been on the set for a couple of days and meeting some of those involved in this adaptation, I came away wonderfully hopeful.  Hearing words that are so meaningful to me in the mouths of actors touches a deep place in my heart, listening to so many who were touched by the book, and seeing the scenes come to life with such beauty, was exhilarating.  And there was something indefinable in the air and I suspect more is at work here than the human hands touching it.

In the end it will be a beautiful movie and I am hopeful that it will unfold God’s reality in a way that will touch many more people who haven’t yet read the book.

Wayne on the set while the Shack was being prepped for winter in July 2015

I wrote the above right after I returned from the set but was not allowed to post it at the time because of restrictions from the studio.  I can now.  Two days before Christmas I got to take my family to a special screening and see the entire finished movie. It was my first time to see it color corrected, with all the special effects and the music. Wow!  It is simply amazing, and my family thought so too. It was weird to watch people in the the theater cry or laugh to some of the words I wrote and the scenes I helped create. But the main messages of this movie that I wanted to convey are fully intact within it.  There is so much here as to how God can touch the lives of people.

And, yes, the controversy is beginning to rage once again by those who think we want the world to believe that God is a woman or that we got some detail of the Trinity not quite right. Unfortunately they miss the greater story—that God is capable of walking into the depths of our most painful disappointments and despair, win us into his love, and walk us out into reality and freedom.  It’s all about relationship. It’s what God desired before the Creation and what heals the restlessness and brokenness in our own souls. That comes through wonderfully clear in the movie. It’s not a perfect movie and there are bits that I would change if I had the power, but what is here is a faithful depiction of the story we worked on and some visuals that are amazing. I was touched at a heart level many times and I knew what was coming.

But you don’t have to take my word for this alone.  The studio has been running trial screenings in various markets. They’ve come away very encouraged by the audience reaction. Two of the statements audience I’ve heard repeated are: “The Passion shows us what, The Shack shows us why!” and, “Finally Hollywood gets it right!” Honestly, I think they did here.

Two of my friends got to attend two of those screenings, one in Atlanta and one in Colorado Springs.  I had no idea until they wrote me to share their perspectives:

From Colorado Springs:  We were privileged to attend the preview showing of The Shack last week. So well done, and moving. Several unexpected moments of revelation and exhortation throughout.

From Atlanta:  All I can say is, WOW! Brad – you did an awesome job fighting for keeping the integrity of the book with Hollywood. Not that I have it all memorized, but it seemed like the majority of it was kept intact. As an actor and Christ-follower, I have a high (and maybe even a super sensitive) BS meter when it comes to “Christian” movies — and that could be because of the acting or the writing or cheese-factor I see in most of those flicks. That meter didn’t go off one iota in The Shack. The directing was great. The acting was even better. And this is something I feel I can tell others to go see. I’m excited to see where this will go! Unfortunately, my wife didn’t get to goodie to a prior commitment so I took a friend with me who had never read the book.  He is going through a painful season in his life. He absolutely loved it. I asked if he had a favorite part and he mentioned the portion with Mack and “Wisdom” was his favorite.

It’s only a few weeks now until the movie will be out for everyone to see.  March 3 can’t get here soon enough for me, but I do have to run off to Jordan and Israel first. We’re still planning on hosting a showing here in Thousand Oaks, CA either on February 25 if we can get permission to do it a week before the release, or March 4 if we can’t. Hopefully we’ll nail that down in the next week so people can begin to buy tickets. If you’re interested sign up here.

You can follow what’s going on with the movie and view the trailer here or follow it on Facebook here.

Happy New Year!

2017 has arrived!  Big deal!  I’m not much on arbitrary dates like this. Oh, they are fun to celebrate with friends but I know for many dates like this haunt them for the lack of seeming progress they’ve made in their lives over the past year. But transformation doesn’t come in giant leaps and resolutions, but in a slow, steady heart that keeps leaning into Father’s reality and out of the illusions of this world and even our religious sensibilities.  God loves you. He lives in you and as you just keep opening your heart to him each day he is at work in you to will and to do of his good pleasure. Find your way into that reality today, even if you can’t see it’s impact in the way you would like, and that transformation will continue.  God wants you free and alive in him far more than you do!

Sara and I have enjoyed the week between Christmas and New Years at Shaver Lake with my dad, my daughter and her family and with some friends from this area that we don’t get to see often enough.  Kids, puppies and snow are quite a delightful mix as our new pup explored the white stuff. It amazes me how much all our dogs have loved the snow at first sight.  They bolt from the car and run through it like they’ve just discovered heaven. And they are barefoot at that!  We have had a great time up here and are getting ready to head home in the next day or two.

I’m now seven and a half weeks out of surgery and feeling pretty good.  Except for not being able to exert my heart as much as I would like, I’m pretty much back to normal and am so grateful.  The heart will take another 4.5 weeks to heal so we’re slowly elevating my heart activity to make room for that. I continued my walks up here, in the snow and ice, so it’s been brisk and beautiful.  And after all the trauma my body has been through I’m constantly amazed at the resilience of it as it finds it’s way back to “normal.” And hopefully it will be a new normal with a stronger heart and greater endurance.

Over the break I’ve been reading Colson Whitehead’s book, The Underground Railroad. It’s a novel that won the National Book Award about the people who risked their lives to help slaves escape to the north and the hunters who fought so hard to bring them back to be tortured so others wouldn’t be tempted to try it. It is a story of fear and great courage. I started reading it as background for the book a friend of mine is writing about the Civil War. I’m helping him with it and wanted to read an award-winning book in that genre.  I am fully hooked on the characters and the story and looking forward to continuing later today.  It’s got me thinking what kind of person I would have been back in that day if I’d be raised in the South.  There’s no way to know, of course!

The best “gift” I got this holiday season was the opportunity two days before Christmas to watch the final version of The Shack movie with my family at the Lionsgate Screening Room. I’ll write more about that experience in my next blog, but it was such a joy not only to see the movie myself, but to experience it with them and watch them and a roomful of other people respond to it. It exceeded my hopes. To watch people react with laughter and tears to the words and scenes that I helped to write was an extraordinary experience. Talking about it with my kids after was a further delight as they shared their thoughts and insights about it.  Will March 3 ever come?

But before it does, I still have a trip to Israel to make. Three weeks from today I’ll be headed to Jordan.  Yikes!

Our Offices Closed This Week

Due to the holiday season our office will be closed this week.  We will open again on January 4. We apologize if that’s an inconvenience to you in some way. Book and audio orders placed this week will be sent out early next.

The good news, however, is that our 15% discount at the Lifestream Store continues until December 31.  Just place your order as usual and type in “LSChristmas” for your coupon code and it will reduce your order by 15%. Our books and our Audio and Video products are included.

Also, if you need to some year-end giving opportunities, we’d be blessed for you to consider the ongoing need in Kenya, the production of the Jake movie, or an of our ongoing needs at Lifestream. Please see our donation page if you’d like to give.

Finally if you’d like to go to Israel with Brad and I from January 15-February 5, you have to get it done quickly, but I think e can still smash you in.  Check here.

I continue to recover from heart surgery, allowing me a bit of time to run up to visit my dad. I’m six and a half weeks out from surgery and all is doing well.  I’m back to doing most things I was able to do before except put too much exertion on the heart. I’m permitted some light workouts as well as my walking. It takes 12 weeks for the physical trauma of the heart to heal.  So I’ve got a ways to go here, but couldn’t be more pleased at my recovery.  I am grateful for all your prayers and expressions of concern and it is good to feel functional again.

I hope you are looking forward to the year ahead and all the possibilities God might have in mind for taking your journey into greater freedom and fruitfulness.

You Can Help Jake Find His Way to the Big Screen

One of the greatest days of my life was spending an afternoon with my daughter’s well-marked copy of He Loves Me after she had returned from college shortly after it had been published. With her permission I got to read through the comments she’d written in the margin and enjoy what she highlighted. My daughter posted the picture above a couple of weeks ago. It’s my oldest granddaughter reading So You Don’t Want to Go to Church Anymore. It took my breath away. I knew she was reading The Shack with her mom for the first time, but now she wants to read everything her grandpa has written. I cant tell how how that impacted me and I can’t imagine the conversations we’re going to get to have ahead.

I’m still amazed and incredibly grateful whenever I hear how something I’ve written has touched someone else deeply, and helped encourage their own spiritual journey whether it’s my family or people I haven’t met yet. The power of a story can invite people into a transforming reality they are not even expecting.

The Shack movie will be out March 3, and it will give people a lot to think about as they process that story and God in their own lives. And we are well into the process of adapting Jake’s story in So You Don’t Want to Go to Church Anymore for a big-screen movie, tentatively titled Out of the Game. The movie focuses on the religious game Jake doesn’t even know he’s playing by serving his own need to gain approval from others. Though an encounter with a mysterious man who is living in more freedom than Jake has ever known his life begins to change. As it comes unraveled he has to choose between the false security of his past, or the risk of finding God is better than he ever dreamed. We made some changes in the story, but not to its meaning and I’m thrilled that we’ll have a chance to re-tell this story to a wider audience.

We just added a new section of the website that will let you look behind the scenes at the process I’ve been involved in, introduce you to some of the people I am working with, and if you’d like, I can give you an opportunity to be involved in the production. The link above will explain everything but we’re hopeful to make this movie with a combination of investment money and passion dollars from those who care about the message and want to help us make this movie. You can do that through a donation to Lifestream that will give us a stake in the movie and the ability to shape its message.  In return we’d like to offer you some special gifts as our way of saying thanks and involving you in this unfolding process.  .

Unlike The Shack, we don’t have a major studio behind us. This is an independent production, born in the heart of a man who found this book to be a meaningful part of his own spiritual journey by helping him see that God was not the demanding taskmaster he’d learned in his childhood. I am deeply involved in all phases to his project and am excited to put this story into a new medium that can touch a different audience of people. I invite you to click through to our behind the scenes video and see if this is something that would interest you.

And don’t forget, through December 31, you can receive a 15% discount for all items in the Lifestream Store simply by using the coupon code: “LSChristmas”.