IVP - Behind the Books - Apprentice Series Continues to Impact Lives

April 13, 2011

Apprentice Series Continues to Impact Lives

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When my friend Greg Bowman speaks, I can count on him to shoot as straight as a west Kansas highway - even when I may not like what he says. We all need people like that, right?

So I listened closely when Bowman, a close friend for more than a quarter century and a small group pastor for nearly that long, told me, “No resources have had a more profound impact on my life and ministry than the Apprentice Series,” and went on to declare that “the books are making true life-change possible for the first time for so many.”

I listened. And I liked what I heard.

Over an Italian dinner not long ago, Greg’s wife Connie shared much the same sentiment but with unique insights into the application to her own life and the impact she saw on a group of women she took through the The Good and Beautiful God. Like Greg, she couldn’t articulate exactly why the book was making a mark, but she said the change in the lives of her friends - and her - was undeniable.

These are the kinds of comments a publisher and an author dream of receiving and, truth be told, all-too-seldom hear.

James Bryan Smith, the author of the series, is also hearing—and being touched by—the feedback:

“The thing I hear often, and each time I hear it I get chills, is this: ‘These books have changed my life with God.’ People often tear up when they tell me their stories about how they grew up with toxic God narratives, and how the books - through the power of the Spirit - have transformed their thinking about God in ways that made them love God and filled them with joy in knowing that God is actually out for their good and wants a relationship of love.”

Launched in July of 2009 with The Good and Beautiful God, continued that December with The Good and Beautiful Life and completed in September with The Good and Beautiful Community, the Apprentice Series was birthed out of a passion Jim had to see what Dallas Willard has called “a curriculum in Christlikeness” developed and offered to the church.

After years of field testing with congregations in Kansas and beyond, it was brought together as the Apprentice Series. And the rest, as they say, is history.

But it’s history still being written.

During visits with churches, booksellers and individuals around the country and in e-mails and letters received virtually weekly, I’ve heard a refrain remarkably consistent with what the Bowmans told me over that Olive Garden dinner:

• “I have never used any other tool that is as helpful to people in different stages” of their spiritual life.
• “This series of books is a gift to the church.”
• “In my nine years of ministry at this church, this has been my most gratifying investment of time and energy.”
• “As I learn and grow through the books, they help me to be a better pastor, preacher and teacher.”

I met Greg and Connie Bowman in my first year in bookselling and publishing, so that tells you how long I’ve been at this. (Yes, more than a quarter century, as my graying hair attests.) There have been occasions when I’ve been tempted to become cynical about the books that people buy, content they are too easily satisfied with, and what regularly sits atop best-seller lists in our industry.

And then another response to a book like those in the Apprentice Series arrives, and I’m reminded why we and our authors do what we do.

And I’m grateful for the chance to be a part of it.

-Jeff Crosby, Associate Publisher, IVP



Posted by Rebecca Larson at April 13, 2011 12:46 PM Bookmark and Share

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