everyday spiritualitya podcast from connect.faith
Subscribe to "Everyday Spirituality" where ever you get your podcasts!
Faithful Innovation with Brendan McClenahan| Everyday Spirituality | connect.faith
This week on Everyday Spirituality, Debbie and Brendan McClenahan discuss the idea of faithful innovation.
[00:00:00] This is Everyday Spirituality,
a podcast where we explore the stories of people whose spiritual practices fill them up for the journey of everyday life. I’m pastor Debbie Bronkema, leader of an online community called connect.faith
where creativity, spirituality, and justice meet. Music and production by Evan Closser.
This is Everyday Spirituality with Connect.Faith. I’m Debbie Bronkema and
I’m here today with Brendan McClenahan. Brendan loves helping people start new things. He’s ordained in the P.C.U.S.A (Presbyterian Church of the United States of America) to work on faithful innovation with Cyclical, Inc. And in 2020 he launched a writing publishing effort called cyclical publishing.
He’s also a husband and a dad to three girls, and lives in Western Michigan where he’s starting a new church with his neighbors. Thank you for being [00:01:00] with us today, Brendan. It’s good to have you.
Brendan McClenahan: Yeah. Thanks Debbie.
Debbie Bronkema: So I wanted to start by asking you to talk about faithful innovation. What does that term mean to you?
Brendan McClenahan: Yeah. Faithful Innovation. That’s actually a question we’ve been asking. I’ve been asking people, because it’s a term that feels right. This feels like the right term for the things we’re doing, but it’s one of those things that’s hard to nail down. What does faithful innovation mean?
What I like about the term is the way it captures attention; the tension between "faithful" and "innovation." I think of "faithful" in two different ways. "Faithful" as in faithful to the people who have gone before us, to the community of saints who preceded us and who charted the path and on whose shoulders we stand today.
And so, faithful to that, to the tradition that we’ve been given. And I think that’s really an element of humility. I’m saying, you know what, I didn’t get here by myself. [00:02:00] Or as one of my friends says, I’m just a turtle on a post. Here I am, there’s no way I got here by myself.
So I think that’s an element of faithfulness, but also another element of, I mean, I can go on this for a long time, but I think another element of faithfulness is this idea of steadfastness or perseverance. I think of the virtue of faithfulness with marriage, of saying, "You know what, I’m married to Rachel and Rachel alone."
And that actually is a limitation in some ways, but it gives me so much freedom to experience the joy of having the person I want, and the person that I said yes to at the same time. And if you have faithfulness, you get to enjoy those two things at the same time. Whereas if you don’t have faithfulness, you’re constantly waffling between different things and never really get to enjoy the things that you get to have the things that you want. So I think faithfulness in that sense of sticking with [00:03:00] something over a long period of time through the ups and downs and experiencing the joy of being able to say, "I chose this" and, "I have it" at the same time. That’s something that I think of when I think of faithful innovation, but then also innovation is the other side of the tension of holding on to that while also saying, "We do need to adapt." The people who have gone before us were in different contexts and they didn’t do everything perfectly. And sometimes. More than that they may have done things explicitly wrong or damaging, and we’re dealing with the repercussions of that. The trauma of that.
And so we’ve gotta figure out ways to heal and different patterns and different ways to embody and enact. The good news that we believe in, and we’re in a different context today. So what does it look like? And I was talking to a church. I do some consulting with Cyclical Full Circle which we can talk about at some point, but, I was with a church session and [00:04:00] they were saying "Our biggest challenge is that the kids these days are more committed to soccer and extracurriculars than they are to church."
And, "If things would just be more like they used to be." As much as I wanted to balk at that, I also said, "I think that’s something that’s been a critique since Jesus." I mean, since before Jesus probably too. But Jesus said, "Who will save us from this corrupt generation?" Right?
The people in Jesus’ time were going off to Hellenism and leaving their families, embracing these individualistic culture. And it was eroding the culture of the Jewish people. And Jesus knew their concerns with that. Anyway, the task of the church is to reimagine every single generation.
What does this look like? The hard part is we can’t just go well, "I’ll just do the same thing I was raised with." Every single generation of believers has to realize and mourn the fact that the context they [00:05:00] grew up in, and that they learn to do church in, and they learn to do community and justice and creativity in is no longer the same thing you can just copy and paste today. And so now you’re leading something you’ve never actually lived. I think that’s a huge challenge. So that’s where the innovation comes in of realizing, "I have to grieve the fact that the situation right now is different than what I grew up with." And, "I have to grieve the fact that I really don’t know what the hell I’m doing and so, how do I move forward with that sense of loss and that sense of confusion and try new things?" I think it, it comes down to having faith to be able to experiment and start small and start with what you’ve got, acknowledging the fact that you don’t have it all together.
You don’t have the best ideas and you don’t have all the resources or the connections that you need in order to get there, but doing it anyway as a way of being playful. [00:06:00] As a way of practicing faith and innovation at the same time. That was a long answer to your question, but I think that’s what faithful innovation means to me.
Debbie Bronkema: Well, it’s a great description of where we are in the church, in the world today, both in the grieving what was, and trying to find the playfulness to lean into what can be and what we can do. So I love how you described it. Tell me about how you came to start the publishing part of Cyclical. Where did that come from?
Brendan McClenahan: Yeah, I’ll just tell you the story. I think it was 2019. Nick Warnes, who is the executive director of Cyclical Incorporated, who you know very well. He and I were sitting by a pool and he was saying he’s got this book on his mind he really wanted to publish. And he was wondering, "Should I go with a big publisher or should I try to publish it myself?"
And I said, "Man, you could really go either way. I think, knowing you and what you really want, I would really advise publishing it [yourself.] and [00:07:00] here’s why." I mean, I don’t wanna be knocking on big publishers here or anything like that, but this is how we started is realizing Nick had no ambitions of becoming a New York times bestselling author or something like that. What really brings some joy, and what really brings me joy and I think us as an organization joy, is gathering faithful innovators. Gathering leaders and gathering them into relationships. And so a book like the one he was about to write, or the one that we would be writing the next year, has the opportunity, if you publish it yourself, to build your own ways of selling the book and gathering interest. And, you know, marketing it yourself, all that stuff, of gathering communities. Including people who may not have felt included and walking them through a journey of transformation.
So a couple weeks after the pandemic hit in April 2020, Nick had set aside the book project he was working on and we were just focused on, "how do we [00:08:00] help the people in our networks, these faithful innovators, these church starters, church leaders, people who are discerning new things."
We were realizing that the church has just been disrupted majorly and that the people in our networks were born in that. They breathe that air. That’s the water they swim in is disruption. So we thought, "You know, I’ll bet there is some collective wisdom, if we were to gather some people, there’d be some collective wisdom to address some of this." So we gathered those people and Nick just took voracious notes from them. And we put together an ebook based on it. We just gathered everybody’s notes and questions and thoughts and ideas [and] practices and put them all together in an ebook called "Developing a COVID 19 Ecclesiology." Now with a title like that, "Ecclesiology," you’re really expecting a lot, I think. Ecclesiology is like a pretty big term. So we put this ebook out, it’s like 18 pages or something. It’s pretty short and it’s very brief, because again, we don’t know what we’re talking about. This is brand new territory for all of us. [00:09:00] And the feedback we got was, "This is great, but I was really hoping for something more."
And so we went back to those people, some of those people and said, "Hey, could you each write a chapter? We’d like to put together a book that really addresses this topic more in depth." And then we developed a conference for it. So, in summer of 2020, this is when that publishing conversation resurfaced.
And Nick said, "Do we go with a big publisher or do we publish it ourselves?" And I said, "Well, if we go to the big publisher, even if that was our best bet, we’re probably looking at two years or so of work." And I was thinking, "You know, this pandemic’s only going to last for maybe a month or two more so we better get on this. It might be over by the time we published it." Silly, silly me. But we decided to publish it ourselves. I had no idea what I was doing. Again, "Faithful Innovation." But what I did know was that we had people. That [00:10:00] was kind of what drew me forward. We had actual people with actual stories who were writing actual chapters, and we also had an audience. We had a group of people that we would publish to. We had already started gathering people and with the ebook that we had put out, we had collected email addresses through sending that ebook. We’d give it away in exchange for an email address. And then they would be part of our online community.
And so now we can go back to those people and say, "Yes, we did come out with a fuller version of this." So we had that book published. So those authors wrote for a month, we edited it for a month, and then it was in production for a few days. And we had the book out within like three months.
It was a whirlwind. It was a ton of work because we were trying to build this thing while we were flying it. And it was really exciting. And then we all gathered together for like a conference. Basically to celebrate the release of these stories and to gather people that we [00:11:00] hadn’t ever met before who had become part of our ecosystem since starting to release content like this.
And after we finished that, a couple of people started emailing me saying, "Oh, you guys publish books now? Because I have a book idea!" And so that’s when it started is this one guy, Crawford Brubaker who was one of our first published authors, he came to me and was like, "I have this piece. It’s a lament for America and I really want it to be out before the 2020 voting day. It was like three weeks before then. And I said, "That’s totally impossible. There’s no way we can do it." But he pushed me on it and he really challenged me. He said, "No, this is really, really important to me and tell me why we can’t do it?"
And so he forced me to kind of talk myself into it. I was like, "Well, we couldn’t do it because of this. But I guess we could do this. Well, but then still we’d have to do this and that wouldn’t work, but I guess there’s a way around that too." And we ended up getting it out [00:12:00] by November 3rd I think it was. We released actually a few days before that.
And it was really cool. For me, the joy is seeing someone else’s dream. We’re talking to creatives here, right? You’ve got something in your mind that you can see. You’ve got a picture of it, even if you don’t like, can’t literally visualize it, you have a sense of what it would feel like to bring this new thing into the world that doesn’t exist yet. And for most people the reward is not around money or a sense of accomplishment. A lot of it is like number one, the feeling of having brought something into the world that was in your brain. A dream that has come to life that resembles your values and your perspective and your hopes for the world.
But then the other thing for a lot of, not every creative but a lot of them, is the sense of having shared that experience with other people. I was trained as a classical musician and so I did orchestration as part of my undergrad. And to take music that’s in my brain and put it on a piece of paper and then [00:13:00] give it to an orchestra and watch them bring it to life is just bone chilling, you know?
It’s an incredible… it’s… there’s nothing like it in the world. And so to see the thing that the dream that you have be embraced by a group of people is one of the most satisfying things. You get to share something that has kind of grown out of that soil, so to speak. And so that’s kind of what we got to see with "Faithful Innovation," that first book we published, which I didn’t think I mentioned the title of it is called "Faithful Innovation."
And then with Crawford’s book, which is called "ALAS!" Basically he took the book of Lamentations and did a modern day translation of it. For the United States of America. And then the subsequent books, we’ve done I think 13 books now. We’ve worked with probably over 50 authors and freelancers to make that happen.
[00:14:00] And it’s this cool little community that’s emerging. I just love creating a space where we can help each other make those things come true. Make our creativity. You can’t do it by yourself. You know? I mean, I guess you could, but I don’t think you get where you want to go as a creative if you’re just doing it alone and not sharing with, journeying with, getting help from, giving help to others. I think there’s something way more satisfying about that. So that’s how we started Cyclical Publishing. Realizing it’s really about the people, the relationships, this growing network. It’s not really about printing a book shaped object that then gets sold on Amazon, you know, and then you don’t even know who buys it.
You’re getting like pennies for every book you sell. Shifting that to really trying to let it be a cycle. That’s why, I mean, "Cyclical", a cycle of this community that [00:15:00] produces and enjoys a growing body of content and conversation and relationships.
Debbie Bronkema: So I love how you talk about it as not a book shaped object, but a vehicle for transformation.
That’s, that’s really awesome. That’s really awesome. And building community and connecting with people.
Brendan McClenahan: Yeah. Yeah.
Debbie Bronkema: Very cool.
Brendan McClenahan: Yeah, that’s what we’re doing. Sean Chow’s is probably the most recent book we’ve just put out and he works with the 1001 New Worshiping Communities with the Presbyterian Church of the U.S.A.
He does workshops all over the country with churches and this book he’s come out with called "Rediscovering Vitality" rises out of his work with people. You know, he’s done these workshops, it comes out of his work with those people. And then he’s using this book to maximize, increase, nurture those relationships to go, "Hey, we did this workshop, here’s this book." Or, "We’re about to do this workshop.
I want you to have this book with it." It increases the value of that. [00:16:00] And every time he sells a book that email gets added to his list and he sends emails, he invites [them] to workshops, you know, it’s a chance to actually grow relationships rather than just sell books. Which, I couldn’t be less motivated, you know?
Debbie Bronkema: If that was the only part of the story.
Brendan McClenahan: If that was the only part of the story, it doesn’t make sense. So, yeah.
Debbie Bronkema: So knowing that you are the dad of three daughters, and doing all these different things, and having all these balls on the air, how do you get filled up? What’s your place of getting filled up personally? Spiritually?
Brendan McClenahan: Honestly, I don’t feel that busy. I do wear a lot of hats. I work with Cyclical, I’m also working with Fuller Church Planting Initiative. I’m associate director of this publishing company, I’m starting a church. When I list it out, it feels like a lot but day to day, like these last few weeks I’ve actually been really slow.
I’ve been surprised at how little there is to do. [00:17:00] So, I don’t know. I think one is just the way I work. I feel like I work really slow. The people I work with tell me I work fast, but I feel like I’m slow. I feel like I take a lot of time to think and when an email gets sent or, there’s a problem, my first reaction is just kind of like, think about it for a while, you know? Not to do anything, but just let it kind of soak. And also the interconnectivity between all the things I’m doing. I think there’s a lot of mutual benefit of that, of learning a lot from different people that I’m working with and getting wisdom.
Like when I’m talking to Len [Tang] at Fuller, I’m learning things that I then go, "You know what? That could be really helpful with Cyclical Publishing too." You know, like, there’s a lot of different intersectionality. I’m, you know, one person who’s surrounded by these amazing people I get to work with that teach me a lot.
But in terms of how I fill myself up, I have a couple of things. First of all, [00:18:00] this last year I’ve had some health challenges that reminded me of some of my own limitations. You know, I’m 35. I’m not old, but I’m also not young.
And I am starting to realize that my body does have limitations. And some of those mean that I’ve gotta be exercising every day. I have temporary paralysis, which means some days my muscles just shut down. And in order to keep them from getting weak or paralyzed, I’ve gotta keep them active and I have to eat well.
And I have to get good sleep and I have to manage my stress. I think if I didn’t have a condition like that, I would be probably burning the candle from both ends and just chasing after things all the time and not ever resting. But it really forces me. I have to get outside for an hour every day and exercise, move my body. And I have to manage my stress well, or else [00:19:00] literally my muscle starts shutting down. And I have to eat right. And so I’m growing a garden, which I love doing! That’s something I love doing anyway. So gardening is big for me. I’ve got a garden in my backyard that just gives me tons of life. It’s also a place where I learn about ecosystem and about how to nurture things, how to care for things.
I learn a lot about myself in the garden. It’s a place of exercise, outdoors, joy, rest. So the garden is a big part of my life in terms of how I get filled up. Relationships with neighbors. Like I said, we’re starting a church. Even though we are starting a church,
I think of it more as loving our neighbors and living in right relationship with some people. So over the last 10 years or so we’ve fostered a number of relationships that have become like a community that gives me a lot of life. So, being able to go on walks with my neighbor every week. Or being able to have weekly meals with the people we’re starting this thing with, and [00:20:00] opening scripture with them and praying for each other.
Those are all things that fill me up. So, yeah, exercise, gardening, time with neighbors, community. Those are all things that really energize me.
Debbie Bronkema: It sounds like a challenge that you’ve faced, but it feels like you found balance through the challenge. Is that what you’re saying?
Brendan McClenahan: Yeah, that is how it feels. It feels like my particular condition has been a teacher for me. I think it’s learning to listen to my limits. Definitely earlier in my life, I thought it was a curse. I’ve had this since I was 13. I remember lots of tears. And prayers.
And wanting God to take it away, you know, wanting God to heal me. There’s this prayer of recollection where it’s like, "I am not God. I have a body that has limits." This acknowledgement that I am a limited creature that is not infinite.
If I can [00:21:00] listen to that and embrace that in my particular circumstance, rather than just trying to ignore my body and ignore my limits, there is huge healing in that. At least this is for me. I don’t know how it is for everybody but for me, learning to listen to my limits and say, I can’t just eat whatever I want, that actually heals my body!
You know, when I’m able to eat food that actually nurtures me rather than just reaching for whatever. And when I say, you know I can’t go to bed at whatever time I want, I have to have a really disciplined schedule. Well, that’s part of my healing! And exercising. I’m way healthier today.
I’m probably experiencing more flourishing because of my limitations. And having embraced them, versus times in my life where I have tried to move past it or ignore those things. Yeah, it’s definitely one of those things that feels like a limitation, feels maybe even like a curse. This last year has been really, really hard for that stuff.[00:22:00]
I’ve had to learn a lot about my own limitations and that’s been a blessing to me.
Debbie Bronkema: Thank you for sharing that part of your story. I feel like it’s something that a lot of people can learn from because I feel like we’re all running too many directions at the same time and not listening to our bodies.
So I really appreciate you being vulnerable enough to tell that part of your story.
Thank you. Thank you for that.
So what other things would you like to share with us today?
Brendan McClenahan: Oh gosh. Well, who are we talking to here? Tell me a little bit about your audience and the people you’ve been gathering on this podcast.
Debbie Bronkema: On the podcast? So the people that listen are people that care about creativity and the idea that we’re all created to be creative. And tend to want to grow spiritually, maybe in a non-traditional, innovative kind of way. [00:23:00] And they’re justice seekers. Most of the people that are listening have named justice as something that is important to them.
That’s what people care about.
Brendan McClenahan: What are some of the things that you think are the biggest challenges for the people that are listening right now?
Debbie Bronkema: I think a part of the challenge is figuring out how to be a community in the world we live in now. A lot of them are maybe not connected to their neighbors in any really tangible way for one reason or another.
And so there’s a loneliness that seems to be under the current way of life for a lot of people.
Brendan McClenahan: Yeah. Rachel and I, my wife and I, have had many conversations since the beginning of the pandemic. As if we weren’t living in a lonely enough culture already before the pandemic. I think the way that many of us had lived even before the pandemic was setting a course for a lot of loneliness. And then the pandemic hits and [00:24:00] it’s pushed in your face. And it’s really almost inescapable. Rachel and I have had a lot of talks about our own loneliness. Even though, like I said, we are surrounded by community, a lot of that was pruned away during the pandemic. And that was really, really hard. My wife’s a counselor. She was a social worker during the pandemic and just recently changed to become a counselor. We were just recently talking about her clients and she’s like, "Some of my clients, I’m the only person they’re talking to outside of their marriage." You know?
Who is I talking to? I think it was Kat Moore, she’s a Faithful Innovator, part of Cyclical. And I think it was her that was saying to me, "80% of our social web is made up of our acquaintances." Something like that.
Like don’t quote me on that. I’m just pulling it on my head. Not a scientific number, but think about the people that were just acquaintances before the pandemic that you just don’t see anymore. [00:25:00] And those relationships been cut off. Rachel and I, it’s been hard to get back into rhythms that we were in before, like going to church regularly. And we have got three girls and while that’s awesome because we have our own little community, it’s hard to go to a church where childcare is on one week and off another week. And kids are super sick in there and it’s rubbing their snot all over the toys. And, you know, it’s like, "Man, how do you how do you make this work?"
Debbie Bronkema: "Is this right? Is this a risk that we’re ready to take?"
Brendan McClenahan: I know. Yeah, it’s hard.
But anyway, with the sense of Creativity, I think traditionally the creative process has been really lonely. Just to shift gears here, the conception we have of how to create something (this is my tendency too) is, "I’ve got this idea and I just want to polish up to this perfect thing before I show anyone." I kind of joke that the world’s best drummer, or the world’s best poet, probably no one has ever read. Because they’re so terrified to share with anybody [00:26:00] what they’ve worked on. You know? Probably no one has discovered those people because the burden of creativity can oftentimes be coupled with the burden of perfectionism. And it can be crippling, the weight of that. And so we don’t share it with other people and we think, "All right, once it’s good I’ll share it with somebody else and then they’ve gotta love it, because they’ve gotta be able to share it with other people." And so authors get stuck in this. We’ve got a community online, probably much like connect.faith, where we gather people who are somewhere on the journey of writing their book, or writing something. And so there are authors in there who’s greatest challenge is sharing their work with other people. Like, you’re too nervous or you don’t think it’s good enough.
Dea Jenkins, who’s part of Cyclical in Los Angeles, she’s an artist who started Dea studios.
She’s trying [00:27:00] to put the creative process back into the community. So it’s less about an artist going out into a cave and creating their own masterpiece like Moses going up the mountain and descending with the 10 commandments. Like thinking the burden of creativity is that
"I’ve gotta go up on a mountain alone. And I’ve gotta develop this thing and come back down."
And actually it reminds me another Moses story, Numbers 11, where he’s like,
"I’ve been leading this whole time alone." I mean, if you think of leadership is creativity, I think it transfers. He’s like,
"God, I wish you would kill me rather than let me keep doing this on my own."
"I can’t handle the burden anymore."
I would say the burden of creativity is similar. And then what does God do? God says,
"Well, get 72 elders have ’em come in and I’ll pour my spirit on them too. It’s not about you!"
I don’t know if it would be the role of priest or the role of prophet somewhere in between, Abraham Heschel talks a lot about this, the prophet listens to the community and advocates on behalf of the [00:28:00] community back to God.
And says, "God, this is what’s going on with the community."
Playing this mediator role.
Debbie Bronkema: Yeah, yeah.
Brendan McClenahan: And I think, I think maybe even Moses couldn’t do it by himself, you know, needed to be surrounded by elders who were filled with holy spirit and who he could rely on.
We just celebrated Pentecost at the time of this recording and I think that same thing is probably happening there. I think it’s a nice echo of Numbers 11. It’s not about the disciples as a proprietary entity. It’s about the Holy Spirit pouring out and making the good news understandable, you know, native tongue for the people who are there and who are responding to God’s love.
So like back to Dea, she’s trying to embed the creative process back into the community saying,
"The artist’s job is to listen to the community, not to just do all the art." The artist’s job is to listen to the community and nurture the community much like I might nurture a garden. To say,
"All [00:29:00] right, I’m gonna attend this soil."
"I’m going to make sure that this community is healthy and have clear channels of communication and creative expressions.
" And I’m going to use my creative brain to pull this all together and to see what’s emerging and to give voice to it."
And then I’m gonna create something, or collaborate with somebody to create something that represents what the spirit is doing in this community."
And then coming out of it, now you’ve got the people who probably want to, what’s the word, buy? I don’t think buy is the right word. Enroll, subscribe to, celebrate, enjoy, you know, consume, which I don’t really like consume, but consume. Because a lot of the anxiety of a creative is like, "Well I’m gonna go through this whole process of making this thing and then who in the world is actually gonna get this? Who’s gonna buy this besides my mother?" You know?
And that is one of the biggest anxieties I hear [00:30:00] from authors and creatives in general. Even church starters. Church starting is the same way. Right? You have this vision, you’re putting on a piece of paper.
Maybe you have a little document where you’re jotting down your notes and then you go,
"Oh, that’s just fantasy. No one is actually gonna buy this and no one’s actually gonna join this thing with me." And I think the act of faithful innovation here is to, as early in the process as possible, begin with listening. And begin with gathering people. Begin by inviting collaboration into your messy starts.
And then you get that whole thing out of the way. And I think you’d be surprised how much people will just want to be part of something new. Something hopeful. We just experienced this on Friday. We’re starting this church, right?
I put all this work on a piece of paper and we’ve been talking with this one other family, and we’re like, we need at least one other family, if not two other families to join a core team to make this feel like something that we can begin with.
And so we set up a meeting with a [00:31:00] new family and I was nervous. I was nervous about sharing what we had done. So beforehand I took this piece of paper, I had written lots of my vision, we had written all of our visions and ideas, and I’m looking at it through the lens of these new people we’re about to invite into this process. I’m thinking most of this stuff is totally irrelevant. You know what I mean? Like, "Yes. It’s in us. But now that I think about who it’s for, it’s like a filter. It’s a totally different lens. And I go, "You know, we’re just gonna tell our story."
And so we showed up and it took the longest time for me to kind of initiate the conversation because I was nervous about it. Like, how do you start? And we just started telling our story. You know, you share something with someone and they’re like, not into it? And they’re just kind of like, cold? But then there’s sometimes you share something with someone and you just feel like, immediate resonance. Emotional resonance with that person or those people and [00:32:00] immediately it was that. And afterwards she said,
"I feel like I’m gonna cry just talking about what it’s like to be invited into this kind of experience."
"But also my daughter is sitting right next to you as you’re talking about your story of faith. She’s 13 and she’s getting to be participate in this conversation with us."
"We felt so alone and I feel like so many of my friendships are superficial. And just to be able to have a night with you all here right now to talk about things that matter is what I want in my life."
You know, like, so I was worried about like, you know, the bullet points of the vision, and all they really wanted was just an invitation to something new. And honest, vulnerable connection. And I think that’s the same barrier that we have as creatives. It’s like, you shoot for the moon and you put so much pressure on yourself to create the perfect thing. And you realize that the people that you end up wanting to share it with probably just want to connect.
They probably just [00:33:00] want someone to empathize. They probably just want an invitation into a journey with you. And if you can start that early, you get the joy of that through the whole creative process. Versus the torture of going through this whole creative process alone, with all this pressure on your back, worried who’s going to accept you.
And I mean, you not just your project, right? You’re worried that people are not gonna accept you. And then just to get to the end of the story and you realize,
"You know, I was building this whole thing for some unknown audience. And the people that actually end up joining in on it, would’ve been fine joining in the messy parts of the beginning too."
Debbie Bronkema: Yes, I think that’s really good. And really profound and helpful in terms of taking the risk to bring someone in to the conversation much earlier than we usually do. Thank you. So if people wanna know more about you, or where they can find you, where should they go?
Brendan McClenahan: I am not big on [00:34:00] social media personally.
I did just recently start using my Instagram just to post pictures of my garden. I’ll do like garden tours and like, "Look what’s growing and look how I messed up!" And, you know, things like that. So, I do that. Yeah. So I’m on Instagram with that.
So we do have the writing community that you’ve been a part of.
Thanks for your investment in that, Debbie, and the way you’ve helped it become what it is. So I really appreciate you for that. But that’s a paid thing that I don’t want to necessarily pitch, but we do have like a free publishing course on our website, CyclialPublishing.com. You click on Cyclical Publishing Course, and it’s a free course.
It’s like three lessons that just kind of outline some frameworks for how we think about publishing. I’m about to revamp it a little bit too. But if you’re interested in like the whole creative publishing process and how to make things happen, especially some of the stuff we got to talk about today, a lot of that is in there.
So it could maybe be a help to some of the people who are thinking about publishing a book or [00:35:00] like a course or something like that.
Debbie Bronkema: Thank you, thank you. So is your Instagram "Brendan McClenahan?"
Brendan McClenahan: It’s just Brendan McClenahan with no spaces or anything. B-R-E-N-D-A N M-c-C-L-E-N-A-H-A-N. It’s kind of a long name, but yep, I’m on there. I literally just post pictures of food in my garden, sometimes my girls.
Debbie Bronkema: That’s great. So thank you so much. This has been Everyday Spirituality with Connect.Faith. You can find us at all the places you regularly subscribe to podcasts. And if there’s someone you know that might like to hear the stories that you heard today from Brendan, please feel free to share!