Friday, October 07, 2011
Many of you have asked about the book that I recently published in conjunction with my dad, David Pfanschmidt, and his pastor, Calvin Rychener. It's called God Can! and contains nine stories of people whose lives have been radically changed by God.
The project began about 19 months ago, when my dad and Cal were having a conversation about how attendance at their church (Northwoods Community Church in Peoria, Illinois) was overflowing at Christmastime, yet declined again in the New Year. My dad suggested that Cal put together a book of the letters that he receives regularly from people whose lives have been changed by the church, then hand those books out to visitors. And Cal said, "I've got a better idea!"
Cal wanted to put together a book about people who had stepped out in faith and experienced amazing consequences. It took the idea of letters and expanded it; the book's chapters would not just be about one experience or the effect of one sermon, but rather a window into real people's real lives, and the very real power of a real God.
A similar approach was used by Jud Wilhite, pastor of Central Church in Las Vegas, for his book Stripped (alternately titled Uncensored Grace). But Cal wanted this book to go deeper, to look at the long-lasting effects and life change that come from a relationship with God.
So Cal identified nine stories in from Northwoods Community Church that he wanted to tell. Some were from individuals; some were from couples. Then my dad sent out to interview those people, to hear their stories straight from their own mouths.
That's when I got involved in the project. My dad and I were talking one day, and he said, "You know, I love doing the interviewing, getting people to open up and tell their stories. But I really don't enjoy the writing at all." Thinking back to my original college major of journalism, I said, "That's funny. I always loved the writing part of journalism, but I'd never want to actually be a journalist because I don't like the interviewing." "Hmm...." said Dad, and thus our collaboration was born.
To create the book, my dad interviewed the nine people/couples whose stories make up most of the book. He then sent me transcripts of their interviews, and I went to work writing. I chose to use many direct quotes, allowing the people to speak for themselves. But often they hadn't told their stories in chronological order during the interviews, responding instead to specific questions that my dad asked. So even when I used direct quotes, I often had to rearrange the order, cutting some parts and emphasizing others. I wove their stories together as a whole, including commentary on the lessons that Cal wanted readers to learn from each. Often this involved going back to the sources with more questions for clarification, or consulting secondary documents such as newspaper articles, blogs, or cds.
After each chapter was written, my dad, Cal, and the subject of the chapter read it over and noted any changes they thought should be made, and then I went back and cleaned it up. Meanwhile, Cal wrote an introductory chapter, explaining the goal of the book. He also wrote an introduction and conclusion to each chapter, emphasizing what he hoped readers would get out of each. My dad wrote a forward and conclusion to the book, and I reworked one of Cal's old sermons to turn into the final chapter.
Then we began the painstaking process of editing. Each of us went over the entire book again, and we each selected two editors from among our personal acquaintances. This left us with nine versions of the edits, which my dad then compiled and applied to the master version of the text.
Then, finally, publication! We had a pre-release party for the "chapter people" in Peoria on September 15, and we then released the book to the public at Northwoods' four services on the weekend of September 16-17. Copies are now available at the Northwoods resource center and Peoria's Berean Bookstore. In coming weeks, it will also be available online at Barnes and Noble and Amazon.
If you'd like a copy now and don't live near the Peoria area, you can get one directly from the publisher by sending a check for $13.00 to:
10518 N. Manchester Dr.
Peoria, IL 61615
If you order directly from the publisher, you will save the shipping cost of what Barnes and Noble and Amazon will eventually charge.
I hope you enjoy these amazing, heartfelt stories about what God has done in the lives of members of Northwoods.... and can do in the lives of anyone who follows Him.