One of the greatest blessings of the work we’re able to do at B&H and LifeWay is to partner with authors who are truly ministering the Word of God into the lives of those they reach. One author who definitely reflects this is Beth Moore. You may be familiar with Beth’s ministry, but what few realize is how singularly and sacrificially focused she is on enabling and encouraging women to spend time in God’s Word. This has been her focus since the first days of her ministry and she has stood steadfast to not turn from it as her ministry has grown.
This past fall, Beth’s team contacted our team to see if it would be possible for her to purchase digital copies of three of her books, To Live is Christ, When Godly People Do Ungodly Things, and Believing God as she wanted to give them away to those who had not previously read them. As our teams talked it became clear that her desire was to reach those who were less reached and less discipled than those who typically buy Christian books. This is a sense of calling and responsibility that we very much share, so we partnered with Beth to make the three books she wanted to highlight free on all digital platforms. Except, we didn’t stop there. We expanded the free digital offering to more than a dozen titles Beth has published with B&H over the years and planned the promotion for the first ten days of 2014.
We hoped that such a promotion would get enough attention to spread outside Christian circles and by God’s grace it did. Within days of the promotion, Beth’s titles comprised the top ten bestsellers on Kindle and iBooks. Beth was listed as the second bestselling author on all of Amazon—ahead of James Patterson and John Grisham. At one point, a book with the title, Believing God as the #1 eBook on the two largest secular digital book distributors’ lists is incredible.
Beth’s team posted about the promotion and then on New Year’s Day, Beth wrote a blog post that framed the bigger story of God’s plan:
“In mid-November of 2012, God dropped a word so convicting on my heart through another teacher’s lesson that my face instantly burned. You’ve had those times, too, when you look around the room sheepishly to see if everyone is glaring at you, hoping you got it so that the congregation can all move on to the next point. This was the word: Stop sowing over and over in the exact same field.”
Beth went on to share how the free eBooks were a part of this sense of calling, “The free eBooks that we’re putting out for the first 10 days of January are part of this initiative. We’re very aware that, when it comes to reaching the unreached, free is key.”
While the markers of success with the bestseller lists were exciting, it was the responses from individuals that most moved us. Here are a few:
- LaBreeska: Thank you SO MUCH for giving so freely! I am so excited! I am a stay @ home Mom (8 year old biological son & 2 more boys who are foster care placements that are ages 2 years & 3 1/2 months) so living on one income is not easy and doesn’t allow for much extra spending. Please pray for me that I can become more disciplined spiritually to read these and grow more spiritually.
- Bonnie: Thank you so much for this amazing gift! I downloaded the Spanish books as well because we are missionaries in Nicaragua.
- Kory: Thank you for your wonderful generosity. I lost my way for a little while but slowly finding my way back home.
These are just a few of the stories behind the millions—yes, millions—of books that were downloaded for free. We are so grateful for the opportunity to spread the reach of Christ exalting, Bible teaching, life changing content to places where it is not normally so accessible. And we’re so grateful to have authors like Beth whose response to the news of this promotion’s success was, “There is simply no way to put into words how the news of this success hits us. Only Jesus. Only Jesus. Thank y’all so very much.”
It’s now been a couple of months since we made these books available for free. We’ve had many discussions about the lessons to be learned from this experience and I have come to realize that these are lessons that apply far more broadly than eBook promotions. I would like to share some of those with you:
- We must be willing to take courageous, counterintuitive steps when we want to accomplish something that is not typical.
- The greatest partnerships are those in which both parties share a sense of God’s leading and common ministry vision. If you’re in a ministry partnership, you should evaluate this by thinking through how the other party would respond if God were to lead you in a way that seemed counterintuitive to that party’s most obvious interests.
- Staying true to your core calling does not mean that it won’t be expressed in distinct and changing ways as God leads you in various seasons of your ministry. For Beth, this has meant staying focused on calling and equipping women to study God’s Word. In this season of her ministry that is taking a different expression than it has in past seasons, but the core is still the same. Perhaps now is the time for you to pray about whether God is leading you to express your calling in a distinct way in this season of your life.
- Faith must be at the root of your leadership and business models if you hope for ministry to result from your efforts.
- Never underestimate what our God is capable of doing when we are faithful to Him. We thought that we might see hundreds of thousands of books distributed for free as a part of this promotion. And that seemed an incredible number to us. Then God showed us millions. And from a step of faithful obedience to sow in a different field, came fruit to which Beth replied that it was, “one of the highlights of my ministry to get to give all those books away.”
“Now to Him who is able to do above and beyond all that we ask or think according to the power that works in us—to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.” –Ephesians 3:20-21 HCSB