Augsburg Fortress
One Mission Blog - reflections on the ministry of publishing

Love Facebook or not so much?

December 16th, 2011 by Beth A. Lewis

This morning, I started my day at sparkhouse for breakfast with a "dream team" of leaders gathered together for a Creative Jam to imagine and begin the scripting of an exciting new ecumenical adult faith formation resource…..stay tuned, it will be published in 2012 and more information will be available soon!  It was so energizing to be with high-energy and talented people like Nadia Bolz-Weber, Paul Soupiset, Tony Jones, Bruce Reyes-Chow, Brian McLaren, Lillian Daniel, and more!  As we were sipping our coffee and chatting, the conversation in one small group turned to the joys and challenges of Facebook and ministry.  Where are the boundaries?  What does one share or not share?  How does one respond to less than kind things that are posted about one's self?  Are the answers different than in "traditional" means of communication?   An interesting way to start my day, to be sure!  

Then, late this afternoon, I received a query from someone wanting to know if the rumors about AF being discussed on the ELCA Clergy Facebook page were true?  What rumors, I wondered…..Sigh.  

Even though I try to be actively engaged with various social media….Twitter, Facebook, Google +, Linked In, etc. I can't possibly keep up with everything (or I would never get anything else done!)  

So, I went looking and found that on November 23 (how did I not hear about this until today?) someone posted a query on Facebook that said "I heard this week that Augsburg Fortress is discontinuing development of all adult education materials.  Thoughts?"

After reading the back and forth comments from the past three weeks, I posted the response below.   I thought that if you had also heard this rumor, you might want to read my contribution to the conversation.  

I just learned of this FB conversation today about rumors related to Augsburg Fortress adult faith formation resources, so thought I’d add to it.  To quote Mark Twain, “The reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated.” 

But, let me begin by saying that Scott Tunseth is an incredibly talented editor who has contributed a great deal to AF, the ELCA and the larger church through his many contributions to and through the ministry of publishing.  Scott’s position was not eliminated because of the quality or quantity of his work, but because the sales of adult faith formation resources have been disappointing, a reflection of what many of you have noted in this stream about the relative lack of attention paid to adult faith formation in many congregations.   While we are a ministry of publishing, we receive no financial support except through the sale of the resources we create.  Consequently, we have to make decisions around those results, both positive and negative. 

We have invested heavily, both financially and in terms of human endeavor, in the creation of superb adult faith formation resources.  I am very proud of my colleagues & the authors and other creative partners with whom they work.  These resources receive rave reviews from those who use them….everything from the 100+ Book of Faith resources that we have created since March 2008 to the 40+ books in our Lutheran Voices series to the recently published Greatest Story series and Making Sense series.  But, to give you an example of the challenge we face, of the approximately 10,000 ELCA congregations, fewer than 20% have purchased any of our 100+ Book of Faith resources over the past almost four years. 

To answer the original question in this stream:  We are very excited about  several new adult resources being published in 2012….four more Book of Faith resources, Making Sense of the Christian Life, The Greatest Story: Paul, and a new adult resource from our ecumenical division, sparkhouse.  In addition, we have a new catechumenate guide being published out of our Worship & Music team in March 2012.  Also in March 2012 there is at least one new volume in our terrific Compass Series:  Christian Explorations of Daily Living (topics such as Travel, Food & Drink, Work, Parenting, etc.) from Fortress Press.   So, adult faith formation resources are far from discontinued at AF! 

We will determine what additional adult faith formation resources will be published by AF and sparkhouse as we move forward.  In the meantime, if you are looking for something of very high quality to use with an adult Sunday School class or small group, we have all of the resources that I have listed above and more!  We’d love to have you use them in your congregations!  And, we would love to hear from you!  What types of resources would be most helpful in your congregations?  Your input is of tremendous assistance to us. 

If you have any specific questions related to this or anything else related to Augsburg Fortress, I would be happy to hear from you directly at any time.  I try to keep up with social media, but I don’t see everything….and, missed this conversation until now.  Please don’t hesitate to contact me at ceo@augsburgfortress.org 

So, how do I feel about Facebook on Friday afternoon?  Well, mostly that it is an excellent communications and networking tool.  But, also that it is incredibly hard to keep up with all of the social media activities and we need to be a supportive community (especially in the church!)  If there is a question or concern, I would rather have it asked directly.  And, I promise, I'll try my best to do the same for you.  I don't at all have any bad feelings about the Facebook query or conversation that it started.  But, I do wish I had heard about it sooner!  So, please don't hesitate to let us know your questions or concerns about our work here at Augsburg Fortress!  We're happy to hear from you!  Hearing what works and what doesn't and your dreams of new resources that we might create to support your ministries helps us help you.  

Wishing you a blessed Advent and Christmas,

Beth

@bethalewis

ceo@augsburgfortress.org 

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Beth A. Lewis, President & CEO Augsburg Fortress

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