Joseph Barrett, pastor of Central Baptist Church in Italy, wears many hats. He is a pastor, a teacher, a comforter, a leader, a supporter, a blogger, a musician, a motivator, a husband, a son, a brother, a friend and now an author.
Although pastors wear many hats, reading is not always one of Barrett’s favorite things to do.
“My generation doesn’t really enjoy reading and so we certainly don’t enjoy writing,” he explained. “I have experienced that myself. I would rather watch TV most times.”
Barrett, 27, said the idea of a book began when former teachers in ministerial influences began to pressure him or motivate him. They believed it was important that people of his generation begin writing since there are few young Christian writers out there.
Eventually, Barrett put together a collection of sermons from Mark’s gospel entitled, “Jesus in a Strange Land.” These eight sermons follow the chronology of Jesus and his road to the cross.
He said, “There are a lot of books out there that are put together with haphazard theological research. The idea here is that preaching and written form was once a very important literary genre, if you will. So I decided that I would start out by editing sermons for print.”
Barrett said the gospel of Mark is a political gospel having been written around the Roman community.
He said, “There is no more modern equivalent for Rome than current American culture. We, very clearly, want to be Rome and we are Rome today. The way the gospel presented Rome then is, in many ways, the way that Jesus’ gospel confronts us now. So I picked Mark because it interacts very well with western culture.”
Barrett said the book of Mark is one of his favorite books because it was one of the earliest written gospels. Basically it says what was seen among the people of Jesus time and is written in present tense. He said Mark is raw, that there is less thinking and more saying.
“Mark is a gospel that hasn’t been ‘thought through’ in the way some other gospels have. It is not a gospel that sugar-coats the issues. Mark begins with Jesus walking into the baptismal waters and the traditional ending concludes with the women running away from the tomb in fear.” He continued, “Mark seems to leave you hanging and leaving you to pray and seek discernment to fill in in the gaps.”
He explained, “This book, ‘Jesus in a Strange Land,’ demonstrates what it must have been like for Jesus to leave the throne room and enter into largely Roman culture, although he was in Palestine. And more importantly, what it would be like for him to leave the throne room and be a human again in our culture. I often wonder how strange God really thinks we are — how much of a stranger we are.”
He said, “That’s inspired by the passage in which Jesus says, ‘Foxes have dens and birds have nests but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.’ (Matthew 8:20). Jesus was truly a stranger in the world.”
Barrett said it took about three months to write the sermons and about a month to compile into book form.
He is uncertain when he might tackle a second book. “I have two half-written manuscripts. One is a fiction book about a pastor in a small town. The other is a lay person’s explanation or exploration of the book of Revelation. It’s more of a plain language explanation.”
Barrett said he recently read a blog that says a writer tortures himself for about six months but the writing doesn’t happen until you staple your feet to the floor and write. “My generation is not known for its meticulousness. I wanted to see if I could get my feet wet in editing and writing a book and possibly other devotional material in the future.”
At this time, Barrett said he doesn’t know when he will be able to staple his feet to the floor.
His first book, “Jesus in a Strange Land,” is available online at Amazon.com. The book can be downloaded into e-readers, such as Kindle, Nook, and I-Pads, as well as purchased in paperback form.
Barrett, although not trying to promote Amazon, said the organization has done a lot of good things in the world of books.
Barrett had an initial order to begin with. Now Amazon prints-on-demand as orders are placed. He explained that if you order the book, they print and bind it right then. This way, they don’t print 500 books and have them sitting in a warehouse somewhere taking up space. He said many academic books are going that way; it’s a good way to save paper.
He said the book will eventually circulate into other stores.
Barrett holds a BA in Media and Communications from Baylor University and Master of Divinity from Logsdon Seminary. He and wife, Natalie, moved to Italy over the summer when he assumed the pastorate at Central Baptist Church.