We sat down with Macon A. Gibe, best-selling author of The Intentional Pastor, Reaching the Next Level, and Isolating Your Church’s DNA, to discuss ministry and church trends and how to best leverage and engage them.
_ _ _
QUESTION: Mr. Gibe, you’ve published three best-selling books for churches and church leaders. To what do you owe your incredible success?
ANSWER: It was no accident, I can tell you that! Seriously, I would attribute it to three things: intentionality, aspirational thinking, and a cursory understanding of science.
Q: Your first book, back in 2002, was Isolating Your Church’s DNA. How did you come up with the idea for that book?
A: I took a calculated approach to that book. Christians are always being accused of ignoring science, so I wondered, How can we incorporate science into the church? My solution: Call church things by science names. And what sounds more sciency than DNA? Most people don’t even know what DNA stands for. (I’ll be honest—I had to look it up.) At the most basic level, people know that DNA represents the building blocks of what makes us who we are. So . . . it was a relatively easy transference to the church.
Q: How about Reaching the Next Level?
A: That title was designed to leverage something I’d been hearing—and I’m sure you’ve been hearing as well . . . especially since my book came out. People always talk about “reaching the next level,” “getting to the next level,” “striving for the next level.” It’s a never-ending sort of thing—kind of like a gerbil on a wheel. Once you reach one level, it’s time to go for the next one. The applications are universal, but as a Christian, I harnessed it for the church audience. It worked out wonderfully . . . just as I intended. The older “Marching to Zion” ministers can identify with it, and so can the younger ministers who were raised on video games. And what’s the ultimate “next level” to the Christian? Heaven, of course!
Q: Hmm, I see. Most recently, you’ve written The Intentional Pastor. Care to share the genesis of that idea?
A: I think there’s great wisdom in taking what most people do intuitively and creating a process for it—it’s a great example of taking human interaction to the next level. Besides, processes work so well in churches, why not pastoral communication and decision-making?
Before a pastor does anything—pray, give comfort, wave in that runner from third in the church softball game—I want him to ask himself, What should I intentionally pray about? What can I intentionally say to ease their suffering? If I intentionally wave him in, will he score? It takes a little time—it can seem a little robotic at first, what with those pregnant pauses—but with greater intentionality comes greater effectiveness.
This approach can be especially helpful to the introvert and the internally focused. Many pastors are unintentionally internally focused and I want to help them be intentionally externally focused. That takes intentionality.
And besides, the title The Intentional Pastor has universal appeal, and that carries a lot of sashay in the publishing game.
Q: So, do you come up with the titles to your books first, and then you write them?
A: Definitely. My books are completely title-driven. You might say each book’s DNA is right there in the title, serving to propel each one to the next level, which is my intentional outcome for the books even before I type the first word.
Q: Have you made any future plans?
A: You bet! First I need to complete all of the ancillary titles associated with The Intentional Pastor—you know, The Intentional Elder, The Intentional Small-Group Leader, The Intentional Nursery Worker, that sort of thing. Oh, and in time for Christmas—this is really exciting—I’ll be coming out with Intentional Next-Level Thinking about Church DNA. And early next year I’ll be meeting with a linguist to plot my intentional future. That’s all I’m willing to say. I don’t dare give anything away.
Christian Standard is just kidding.