Roughly 4 1/2 years ago, a friend wrote to me, reflecting on the weary season she was in with their church, looking for a pastor. She asked what I’d be looking for in a pastor if I were part of a search team. I wrote her a reply that, I’m sure, was mostly unhelpful.
However, the question sent me down a rabbit hole, and I began to ponder how, over the previous decade or so, my convictions concerning what it means to be a pastor have solidified. I believe to be a pastor is at its heart to embrace a simple vocation, noble and sacred work – but I also believe the word pastor has been sullied. Big egos and power grabs and celebrities and climbing the ecclesial ladder have left us with a vocation that often feels impersonal and frankly has very little to with actually pastoring or worse, much of anything to do with God. More, I think the idea of church has hit on hard times too – what was once a place of friendship and belonging, a place of joy and grief and hope enacted together has become…well, something else.
Considering all this, I did what I normally do when trying to make sense of things – I began to scratch words on paper. However, these words grew into a story. I discovered a pastor named Jonas McAnn and a little church (Granby Presbyterian) in a little town (Granby, Virginia). The story began open-ended, with a lot of curiosity, as every good story should. I had no desire to deliver “a message” but rather to enter the lives of this beautiful, rough-around-the-edges community and see what I’d find.
I’m really pleased with the stories I discovered, the joys, the sorrows, the friendships. It feels like life.
This is an epistolary novel, told through letters Jonas writes to his congregation. I think you’ll grow to love these people just as I have.
The novel is set to release October 27, and I’ll have more to say as time draws near. But I’ll put this out there now: I really need your help. If you’re reading this, this means you’re one of my loyal circle of readers. I’m counting on you for this one.
Here’s what you can do now:
Pre-order the book on Amazon
My publisher (Eerdmans) has made available 10 Advance Reader Copies. If you’d like to be considered for one (which would mean you agree to post a review on Amazon and Goodreads and say a good word on social media in some way in October), please email me with your name and physical address. I’ll collect all the names and have a drawing on Wednesday.
Begin to spread word among your circle of friends. Word of mouth is the only way Love Big. Be Well. will grab any traction.
10 Replies to “Love Big. Be Well.”
Congratulations! I ordered two copies because I already know I’ll want to put the second one in somebody’s hands. Can’t wait to see what the Lord does.
So kind, thank you. I do appreciate the support.
Wonderful news, Winn. I’ve placed my order!
Thank you, John. I’d love to hear what you think.
You have pastored me from afar and I am pre-ordering. Thank you for this.
Well, Misha, that’s such a generous thing to say. I’m honored to serve you in this way. Thank you.
I’m reading it now and am immersed in this good community and recognizing friends along the way. thank you, Winn.
I hope you love it to the end.
I stumbled upon an excerpt in The Christian Century I snuck from a pile of mail (I used to be a subscriber myself). That first correspondence exemplifies everything, to me, that a church and its pastor should be about: authentic, frank, and loving. I myself “packed it in” because I couldn’t make sense of it anymore, and packing it in ain’t easy. So, thanks for the tear-jerker. I look forward to reading more.
Thank you. The tears are what snagged me when I was writing. I hope you enjoy the full story when you receive it.