August 6, 2001

MAX LUCADO: King's author
___Max Lucado is minister of Oak Hills Church of Christ in San Antonio and is one of the nation's most prolific and popular Christian writers. He is quoted in many Baptist pulpits, and his books, which have won six Gold Medallion Awards, are on the shelves of countless Baptists. Last spring, Dallas Baptist University presented him an honorary
MAX LUCADO and his wife, Denalyn, sign books at Dallas Baptist University, where he received an honorary doctorate this spring.
doctorate degree. Lucado is a native of Andrews and a graduate of Abilene Christian University. He served five years as a missionary in Brazil. Lucado and his wife, Denalyn, have three daughters, Jenna, Andrea and Sara.

___ Why are you a Church of Christ minister? Tell us about your call to ministry.
___My father was an elder in the Church of Christ when I was growing up in West Texas. That's where I came to faith, to trust Christ. I was about 10. It was a Wednesday night Bible class. There were about four in the class. It was a small church, a sweet group of folks. I was baptized there. I went through prodigal years as a teenager and then to Abilene Christian University, where professors had a profound influence on me.
___My faith was not anywhere mature enough then to consider changing churches or looking at different churches. I didn't understand the differences, because as a teenager I didn't pay a lot of attention and didn't grow spiritually. When I went to college and recommitted my life to Christ, some friends asked me if I would like to go to Brazil and spend a summer working there. Then we decided we wanted to be missionaries for five years.
___At the time, I wasn't thinking I wanted to preach. But to get into Brazil in those days, the late l970s, you had to have a degree in Bible and experience in a local church. So I stayed at ACU and got a master's degree in Bible and then two years' experience in a church in Florida. That's when I began to be aware of some of the legalisms in the Churches of Christ. I began studying more and reading Scripture and thinking back about what I had been taught.
___But on the other hand, I had been part of a church in Abilene that was a progressive, grace-oriented church and wasn't feeling I needed to change churches. It made sense for me to stay as a missionary associated with Churches of Christ. When I came back in 1988, I had an opportunity to join forces with Willow Creek Community Church in Chicago and others. It was a tough decision. Bottom line for me was the church here in San Antonio has blessed and encouraged me to preach whatever is on my heart as long as I can go to the Scriptures and say, "Here is why I believe this." A man gave me counsel and told me, "Stay where you are until you can't go any further." Never has there been a wall here. I have never felt a call to leave the Churches of Christ.
___I don't consider myself a revolutionary; I'm not trying to wake everyone up. But a lot of them have written me off; I don't get a lot of speaking invitations. But I really don't consider myself a Church of Christ minister. I consider myself a minister at Oak Hills, which happens to still call themselves a Church of Christ. But if I should leave Oak Hills, I couldn't see myself going to another Church of Christ. I would go anywhere the Lord sends me. I think I would make a good Baptist.

___ What do you say to those who say you sound more like a Baptist than a member of the Church of Christ?
___I say, "Thank you." I really do, because I have benefitted so much from the teachings of Baptists, especially in the area of understanding God's grace. When I was working in the oil fields in West Texas, the truck I was driving had a radio that could only pick up one radio station, and I heard a Baptist preacher present the gospel. He made it sound so sweet and so simple that I pulled over to the side of the road and rededicated my life.

___ Your description of baptism has given me a greater appreciation of what baptism means.
___There are those in Churches of Christ who teach baptism is a work necessary for a person to be saved. I certainly do not hold to that, but I think it is something sacred to God and is to be exalted. We teach immediate baptism. Somebody who has accepted Christ can be baptized immediately here, just as the Philippian jailer was in Acts 16. I know many Baptists practice that as well, but I know there are many who disagree with me.

___ How do you balance your role as minister, author, husband and father?
___I don't know if I have succeeded at it, but I try. I travel seldom because it takes a lot of energy. I am more of an introvert than an extrovert, and it takes a lot out of me to travel. I like to stay at home. I write books based on my sermons, so I am not generating new material. Not traveling much has helped me more than anything else to be a better dad, and I really like being with my kids. I have a senior, sophomore and a seventh grader.

___ How did you start writing?
___To get into Brazil, I had to have two years of experience in a local church. I found a church in Miami that was looking for an associate minister, and they were gracious to let me come and work with them. One of my assignments was to write an article for the weekly church bulletin. That's where it all started. I found I loved writing. Later, I put them together as a manuscript for a book and submitted it to publishers. The 15th one--Tyndale House--accepted it.

___ Were you a reader as a child?
___Yes, I was, and I think that is what got me interested. I used to spend hours in the elementary school library. I don't read as much now as I did when I was a kid.

___ What books do you read now?
___I always have something I am trying to study through, such as millennialism, but I still haven't got it figured out. Right now I am trying to get a better grasp of eternal security. For leisure, I have really enjoyed John Grisham's books and at one time I had read all of James Michener's.

___ Is your writing ability a gift or the result of hard work? How much rewriting do you do?
___I do a lot of rewriting, but in some ways I think it is a gift. I never sit down to write, but that doesn't mean it's not a lot of work. Every manuscript is rewritten 40 or 50 times. I send my editor a manuscript, and she goes over it for two weeks and sends it back to me. I review her suggestions and make my own changes for two weeks and then send it back to her, and we will exchange it several times. Then she will come to San Antonio, and we will go over it again and again, reading it aloud until we have what we want. I love working with words. I feel there is a unique need in the kingdom today for people who take writing seriously.

___ What are you trying to accomplish with your writing?
___I want to encourage. Really, there are two things: One, I want to help people see Jesus. I am not a doctrinal or political issues person. Two, I want to encourage. I want a person, when he or she puts down one of my books, to think, "God loves me."

___ To whom are you writing? Who is the audience you envision?
___I like to write for those who don't like to read. For me the highest compliment is for a blue-collar guy who might not otherwise be a reader to say, "My wife gave me this book for Father's Day, and I finally got around to reading it, and it's pretty good stuff." But that is a key question to know for whom you are writing. I will never be on a list of scholarly writers, but if I am on a "Reader's Digest" list, it's great.

___ How do you select your topics?
___They are based on what I feel the church needs. Each sermon series I do could very well turn into a book. Currently, I am doing a series on the "one another" verses in the Bible. Usually I will preach 14 or 15 messages in a series. Sometimes when I am finished, I review what I have done and feel it has been pretty strong stuff and could make a book; other times I will feel it has been all right but is not book material. I do two or three sermon series a year, and I try to write a book a year. The next one, which is due out in September, is called "Traveling Light," and is based on the 23rd Psalm. I wrote it thinking of non-Christians and with the idea that it could be a book that Christians could give to their unsaved friends.

___ Do you have a favorite among the books you have written?
___Probably it is "No Wonder They Call Him the Savior." My first book was "On the Anvil," which was the collection of articles from the weekly columns in Miami. "No Wonder" was real meaningful to me because it reflected an understanding of the cross I had come to, understanding more about God's grace and the power of the cross. I wrote it while I was in Brazil.

___ How do you apportion time for writing and studying for sermons?
___After a Monday morning staff meeting, Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesday afternoon are dedicated for sermon preparation. Tuesday is a key day during which I take no appointments or phone calls. That leaves me Thursdays for interviews and appointments. I try to take Fridays off. I play golf and work out a lot. I'm a fitness kind of guy.

___ What do you do for fun?
___Although I said I don't travel much, Denalyn and I and our daughters love to go on trips. This year we are going to Hawaii. Last year we went to New York and back to Brazil. When we do something for fun, we love to take trips. Outside of that, our girls keep us busy.

___Interview by Toby Druin

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