Since Sunday, when I started reading Ephesians 1:15-23 from the Lectionary for Christ the King Sunday and ended up reading the entire book, I’ve been thinking about this passage. There are moments when I complain about my life. I often have difficulty staying optimistic. But there were three things that stuck with me from this passage that apply, I think, to my business.
1) I am what I am by God’s will and by God’s grace. Whatever may happen, it is all about God’s grace.
2) God is the one who must be faithful. No matter how weak I may be from time to time, God is always there.
3) The most encouraging thing I know of is my family of faith. As a publisher, that family includes authors, contractors, and even some volunteers. When I was struggling a bit this week, the thought of the wonderful people I’ve encountered in this business was a tremendous encouragement. I’ve said that I judge manuscripts not the people who wrote them. Nonetheless, God has sent me a truly wonderful publishing family through those manuscripts.
I want all of you to know that Jody and I remember you in our prayers. We don’t do it off a list. We pray for our authors as a group, and when something particular is happening about your book, we pray for you and for the book specifically. Thank you for becoming part of our family in this work of service.
I’m afraid to write the next section, because I don’t want to diminish the importance of any of our authors, but considering that we passed the 10 year mark as a company this past September, I want to mention some specific authors who came to us at critical moments, and represented turning points in our history.
In September of 2004 I decided to essentially buy back the publishing element of a non-profit ministry with which I was involved. I had loaned money to start the work, and it was going nowhere fast. The books I bought at that point became the foundation for Energion Publications.
My former professor, Alden Thompson was the first person outside our small group to trust us with a book. In fact, he had done that before I bought the whole thing out. His book, Who’s Afraid of the Old Testament God? was part of the deal in the form of nearly 5000 copies in boxes in storage. For our first two years we struggled to sell books, and then that book started to sell. It has remained a key element of the business for us.
While I’m thanking God for Alden, I must remember my family. My wife Jody and my mother Myrtle Blabey Neufeld both submitted books during this time, and I personally wrote three. I was afraid that our catalog would become way too much of a family affair and push people away, but we also needed books in the catalog in order to get started. Those books provided the starting point. I thank my God for all these people and these books.
Two authors provided an important turning point away from this family gathering. Those were Dr. Bob McKibben and Elgin Hushbeck, Jr. Both provided manuscripts and those books are still in print. It’s another turning point when the catalog has more books from outside the family than inside!
Through Elgin Hushbeck, Jr. I was contacted by Dr. David Alan Black. At the time that Dave submitted that first manuscript (The Jesus Paradigm), he had written and published more books than my company had. That was a major turning point again. It resulted in the Areopagus Critical Christian Issues series and numerous new authors. At this point we’d turned the corner from being a family and friends publisher and reaching a wider audience.
There was a bit of a chain of connections involved, but the next turning point involved Bob Cornwall. He invited us to expand the Participatory Study Series by writing the volume on Ephesians. Through that connection we got involved with the Academy of Parish Clergy and now produce two series with them, Conversations in Ministry and Guides to Practical Ministry.
Each of these turning points resulted in a number of new authors and books, and each was something of a surprise to me. Yes, I planned to expand, but I actually didn’t expect authors with dozens of books to entrust their manuscripts to my little company. Go to Energion Direct and find the Authors menu item (it’s at the far right) and take a look at the list. I’m amazed at the wonderful people God has sent us.
Yes, there are struggles still, but what I’m determined to do now is simply thank my God for everyone of you without stopping.
And thank you as well for your passion, your dedication, your service, and your testimony.