So, I made a public promise at church, that this Lent we would have a 40 Day Prayer Journal available. In previous years we’ve had special resources to read through large chunks of the Old or New Testaments together, as a church, synced with a sermon series.
This year, we said, ‘Prayer’
Could I find one? I searched for a 40 Day Prayer Journal that would work in our setting, and drew a compete blank. I wasn’t setting the bar that high, either, because I wanted it based on the Lord’s Prayer. I’d seen something similar in a church, years ago, done in a ring-binder, and I wanted to see what was out there.
Well, maybe I missed something, but the barrel was well and truly empty.
So, DIY was the way to go.
One half of the equation was down to me. I had the concept clear in my mind, so all I needed to do was give myself enough space in the diary to chuck everything down on screen, tidy it up, lay it out reasonably, and get it out.
That was the second half of the equation. How to produce it? In a ring binder, like the one I’d seen? Fiddly to construct that number of binders. I thought about a simple photocopy, but the document turned out to be quite lengthy, with 40 daily devotionals, other bible verses, and space for people’s own reflections. Our copier would not turn that into a booklet – there were too may pages.
Enter Lulu.com If you don’t know Lulu, they are an online publishing company, allowing you to self-publish. Now normally I run a mile from that kind of thing, but it was ideal for what we needed. They turned my pdf into a paperback, had a little tool so we could design the cover and back, and printed it with a nice glossy finish, a proper spine and even a barcode.
The result is a neat paperback which we’ll sell to our members at £4 a copy and still cover our costs. It wouldn’t have worked out any cheaper down the ring binder route, and it’s a much better result.
The downsides? Well it hasn’t been crawled over by careful copy editors, and so I’m sure there are typos. I did my best, but some will have slipped through. Does that matter? Well, in an ideal world, yes. And in a proper book, yes. But, as they say, shipping beats perfection. It’s out there, and it keys in with our sermon series. We only ordered enough, so I can sort out any typos before we print off any more – if we need them. We didn’t put a date on it, or even mention Lent, so I’m planning on selling any spare copies when we run a “Growing Spiritually” seminar.
It’s not generally available, so it’s not going to have any sales or reviews on Amazon. That’s my choice, by the way – you can sell your stuff through Lulu or elsewhere. They will sort out an ISBN number, and even do the copy editing and layout. We just chose to make our own stuff have a little spit and polish.
So, here’s the challenge – DIY with your own church material. You don’t need to order a huge number – Lulu will do 25 or so. They turned it round within a week. Make the stuff you produce look just as good as the courses you buy in. It’s easy, surprisingly cheap – and actually quite a bit of fun!