Discover more from Back Again with Ian Harber
How do I say this?
An announcement (that I don't know how to make).
I don’t know an elegant way to say this, so here it goes:
I’m writing a book.
After all of the feedback I received when I shared my story at The Gospel Coalition nearly three years ago, I knew this was something the Lord had given me to faithfully steward. At the time, I had no idea what that meant.
We had just entered a pandemic, and my first child was on his way. Our life circumstances made it so that there was no realistic way I’d be able to do anything substantial. This whole time, that’s all I’ve wanted to do.
I hate the idea of having an article “go viral” or whatever without being able to actually, tangibly, substantially help. The whole article was about reconstruction, about actually rebuilding something substantive, helpful, and beautiful in the place of what had been deconstructed. Not being able to do that in any meaningful way has been eating at me for nearly three years.
Today, my life circumstances are different. By God’s grace, I have the ability to do more than just tweet (so help me God if that’s all I could ever do). Not only do I get to write this book now, but my job is to make content every day with the podcasts, publications, and creators we work with that I believe helps—even if indirectly—toward the work of helping others reconstruct.
The three-year gap is also God’s grace in my life. If I had jumped immediately from the article to creating solutions, I don’t think I would’ve had enough hindsight and perspective to do it well. The article was a seed, but that seed needed watering and time to grow. I’m thankful that nothing sudden happened after the article. I needed this time.
As I kept listening and participating in conversations about deconstruction both in person and online, I was constantly disappointed with how different groups of people understood it. Parts of it keep being blown out of proportion until it is distorted in a way that makes it an unfair depiction of what deconstruction actually is and the people who are going through it. We’re not going to make progress on this crucial issue until we account for all that deconstruction is and not just part of it.
So long story short, last week I officially signed on with InterVarsity Press to give it my best shot. I don’t believe in criticizing without creating or pointing out shortcomings without offering solutions. That’s what I hope to do.
This book is not going to be a “here’s how to deconstruct your faith... the right way” book. This isn’t a book for those who are deconstructing. It’s a book to the Church.
From someone who deconstructed their faith and always felt on the outside, who had to piece together his own reconstruction from a mishmash of sources, I firmly believe that the Church could be and should be the best and safest place to have a crisis of faith, deconstruct, and reconstruct to a stronger faith than before. But for that to happen, we have a lot of work to do.
Decades of a compromised Church, bankrupt cultural Christianity, a comfortable society, the proliferation of media, and the compounded anxieties of life has set our houses of faith on fire. It’s not going to be easy to heal that. And one book won’t do it. But I hope it can serve as a helpful piece of the puzzle.
It will be out sometime next year. I’ll spend this year writing, and I’ll do my best to get it right. I hope it’s helpful to the pastors, parents, leaders, and friends who walk with people who are deconstructing. I hope those who are deconstructing feel heard and represented well, even if my optimistic hope for a reconstructed faith might at times make them uncomfortable. I want this to be a book that moves the conversation forward in a helpful, productive way.
So here’s the weird part. Now I’m writing a book, which means I’m also promoting a book. It’s the reality of the situation. Publishing is just as much a marketing game as it is a writing game. I don’t want it to be weird, but as Seth Godin wrote, if we “seek to make change happen, hiding can no longer be an option.” I want to help the church and those who feel alienated from the church, which means I can’t hide. I ask for your grace and patience as I stumble through that whether that’s promoting too much or not enough or not communicating my motives as clearly through words as I hope.
Pray for me. Send me your stories. Let’s hop on a Zoom call. If you’re in DFW, let’s grab lunch. I would love to hear as many stories as I can over the next year. If you’re subscribed to this Substack, you’ll be the first to know when it’s available for pre-order (whenever that will be).
If you’ve been following me for the last three years, thank you for your support. This wouldn’t have happened without you. May God be glorified.