Should You Write 'Pastor Books' or 'Serious Books'?

Are you writing pastor books or serious books?
Are you writing pastor books or serious books? (iStock photo)

When most pastors write books, you can bet they're compiled from sermon notes and manuscripts. Preach a series on fear, and they end up with a book on the subject. Same with marriage, prophecy, grace, epic Bible stories—whatever.

If you're a pastor or Christian leader, you know what I mean. The truth is, I don't discourage that, but don't think for a minute that's a serious book. Writing is different from speaking, and editing sermon notes into a readable manuscript and then calling it a "book" isn't very impressive. If you're a pastor or ministry leader, here's what I recommend:

1. Go ahead and do these books I call "pastor books."  After all, content should be maximized, and when you preach, that should be available online, through radio and TV, podcasts, and other places—including book form. But understand where these books line up on the food chain. These are books that will mostly help your congregation and other members of your social media or broadcast tribe. These books often can be good but rarely make a big impact.

2. Next, focus more on your life's work, or what I call in my book, your "One Big Thing." Every three to five years, create a book that you pour your life into. Do the deep research, interview expert sources, and do everything you can to make it significant. Sit down and actually write it—don't just preach it. This kind of book deserves serious planning, a real publisher, marketing campaign, and possibly an agent. It should be something you're incredibly proud of and will stand the test of time.

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Pastor books are good for teaching, as fund-raising premiums, or product offers through your media platforms.

Serious books change people's lives. But you'll never write one if you think transcribing a sermon magically becomes a book.

If you're serious about your message, you need to think about writing serious books.

Phil Cooke is a filmmaker, media strategist and the author of One Big Thing: Discovering What You Were Born to Do. Find out more at philcooke.com.

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