Back when I was in college, I almost got roped into applying to an MFA program for creative writing. I bring it up because it was my first exposure to what was then an odd phenomenon. To get into the program, you had to have a published book of writing, and some works published in literary journals. I knew I could probably get something published in a journal of poetry if I worked a full year on the objective, but a real book? How was I supposed to get a book of anything published?
Turns out it was actually quite easy -- there were publishers all over the country who would make a short run of your work if you would pay the set-up costs and materials, so for about $1200 you could have your book of poems or short fiction bound nicely, and you would have a box of books to sell when it was all done.
There's only one reason I mention it: that business model blew up when the world went digital, and the birth of on-demand publishing radically changed the practice of custom binding and circulation.
Reformed blogging hero Tim Challies has seen the value of this business model, especially for "simple, clear, well-written, well-edited and accessible" books by establishing Cruciform Press -- along with editor Kevin Meath and entrepreneur Bob Bevington. To date they have produced 7 titles, including the well-known pamphlet Sexual Detox. It's a brave new world for on-demand books, and I credit Tim and his partners for going to it with gusto.
Just to be clear, Cruciform is not a vanity publisher. Xulon Press is a vanity publisher where, just like when I was in college, you could buy the press time and publish anything yourself -- there's no editorial control over content. Cruciform was established to leverage the speed to market and low overhead costs of modern on-demand printing to create small publishing house with a heart for "meaningful" works.
Intentional Parenting is Tad's exposition on the practice of making every family (in the words of Whitfield) "a little parish". Tad sent me a pre-release copy this week, and I was greatly excited for him.
Tad's view of the issue is pretty simple: somehow we make the duty we have as parents to bring up our children in a godly way too complicated. Instead of seeking to somehow first get ourselves a Mohler-esque Library and a Piper-esque homiletic style, Tad says we just really need the basics:
- The Gospel
- The Big Story
- The Big Truths
- the Great Commission
- Spiritual Disciplines
- Christian Living
One of the things about Thompson is that he's sneaky. See: this is not rocket science, and if you were only moderately-clever you probably could have come up with this much on your own. But Tad knows a secret that you don't: most people don't know how to do anything intentionally. This is actually a dirty secret in our culture -- we sort of form habits by convenience and by default, and then suddenly 5 years are gone, literally.
Thompson's secret is the idea of intentional activity. When we were there are Harvard Avenue Baptist Church, this was the secret for adult small groups as well: it doesn't matter how hokey you think the activity is, you cannot break out of old habits of behavior without intentionally practicing the new habits every time it is necessary.
As usual, I'm not going to read the book to you. This book is only 100 pages including the end notes (Sorry DJP), and you can read it in one sitting as these are not textbook-sized pages. But the rudimentary wisdom for starting family discipleship found in this book will break through your complacency and fear about the task.
Do yourself a favor and skip lunch one day this week, and put your lunch money up for this book. You can download it immediately, and you can start your new program of giving your children a godly heritage by dinnertime the next day.