I am stoked to report how quickly LUCID Books is moving with the publication of Confessions. The release date has been moved up to late November with pre-sales set to begin in mid-October. The work is presently in the lay-out phase after having completed the editing and proof-reading. As the process continues, we are looking at publicity and marketing over the next two months. Yes, I am thrilled as I honestly believe this project will be a huge encouragement to many people.
One exciting piece from the past two weeks was to receive the Forward that I had asked Jim Tune write for the book. If you don’t know Jim, he is a fun Canadian minister, church planter, and visionary who is always advancing the ball down the field. Debi and I seriously considered working with Jim and his wife, Claudia, back in 2004 before moving to Northern California. But we’ve kept in touch over the years and I greatly respect Jim and his work. He is also a huge encouragement to me personally. Jim did honor my request and I’ve included his Forward below. Give it a look and stay tuned for further updates as we approach the public launch. (Oh; if you’re looking for a great ministry to support, give Jim a shout – just be sure to tell him that I sent you)
These eyes—holes of a mask.
I first met Steve Hinton at a church planting conference in the spring of 2004. Over lunch, I had hoped to persuade Steve and his wife, Debi, to move up to Toronto, Canada, to plant a church. I failed.
Most preachers are familiar with failure, more than they would like to admit. In seminary, aspiring pastors are told that great things await them. Ministry dreams are conceived. Professors and fellow students affirm these dreams, enthusiastically exhorting the impassioned young man or woman to become a world-changer for Christ. The enthusiastic pastoral student yearns for graduation day, craving to make an epic difference for God in their vocations as quickly as possible. But many, sometimes immediately after ordination, often much later, find themselves gripped with a sense of fatigue, inadequacy, and disillusionment that finally creeps over their lives like a smothering shadow.
Pastor and author David Hansen once observed, “The pastoral ministry is a pilgrimage through the wilderness.” Now, Steve reveals in his own book, with candid vulnerability, his pilgrimage—and humanity. Vulnerability can be risky, but mask-wearing is worse. Steve does us all a great service by lowering his mask. His honesty is refreshing, as is his ultimate discovery that Steve—not Pastor Steve, not Saint Steve, not pious and religious Steve, just ordinary, everyday Steve Hinton—is loved and treasured by God. I’ve seen God’s work in Steve’s life over the years of our friendship. And by no means do I see this book as the end or culmination of that work.
If you are a spiritual seeker wrestling with the idea of a personal, purposeful, and loving God, this book will help you find those next steps in understanding the difference that knowing this God—not religion—can bring to your life. In fact, this book, while part memoir, isn’t really about Steve. It’s about Jesus, who stated his own purpose as this: “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full” (John 10:10).
If you are a “professional pastor” (Steve will be cringing at that term), this book will be like sitting down with a close friend who knows and understands the unique struggles you are enduring. Life and ministry are an apprenticeship in which Jesus, by his grace, recovers our humanity and, through our fumbling efforts, enables others to do the same.
Through the years, I have seen Steve awaken to God’s bigger picture. That picture does not depend on his results or on things that we have come to wrongly equate with “successful” ministry—growing budgets, larger buildings, or swelling membership rolls. Steve has learned that God is faithful and will fulfill His purposes whether Steve’s ambitions and dreams are realized or not.
Everyone who pursues a ministry vocation enters it bringing with them their own hang-ups, brokenness, and ignorance—even naivety. I have come to appreciate this quote by Dag Hammarskjöld: “You asked for burdens to carry—and howled when they were placed on your shoulders. Had you fancied another sort of burden?” We should probably enter ministry with this prayer: Forgive me, Father, for I know not what I’m doing. Read on and you will see Steve confess his mess, accept God’s love, follow Jesus’s path, and find real satisfaction in doing so.
Finally, this book offers hope. If your ministry sails are slack, this book offers a breath of God’s spirit to fill them again. As I read Steve’s book, I was reminded that I cannot control the storms or even the place where my ship may come to rest. It is my job to simply raise the sails that I might catch the winds God sends. That is enough. We don’t have to be heroes. The greatest act of heroism was when Jesus gave his life on the cross, walking out of the empty tomb so that his people could enjoy rest in him. For it is in Jesus alone that we can find the satisfaction of doing abundant life—in big places or small—with love for our neighbors and ourselves, and the freedom to enjoy God in the work and the love that he gives us there.
I’m glad that you have picked up this book, and I’m proud of Steve for writing it. I feel like he and I have walked a similar path. Our stories may differ in the details, but we have shared the same struggles. Masks just don’t fit me well. God sees me and accepts me as I am. There is freedom in that. I pray that God uses Steve’s story to give fresh hope to all who read it.
President, Impact Ministry Group, Toronto, Canada