Talbot Davis collects catchy titles. Davis, the senior pastor of Good Shepherd Church in Steele Creek, has pages of ideas that he has jotted down for years. He often uses them to name or inspire five or six weeks of preaching. A recent sermon series on the book of Nehemiah in the Bible, for example, was called “Solutionists.”
“I’m always on the lookout for puns and turns of phrase and new words,” Davis said.
Davis’ sermon series “Head Scratchers,” which is about obscure sayings of Jesus, caught the eye of an editor at Abingdon Press, a Methodist publisher based in Nashville.
After taking lessons in social media from a church member, Davis had been promoting his sermons and blog on Facebook and Twitter and had developed a following among Methodists.
“We saw it online while Talbot was still in the middle of delivering the series at Good Shepherd and knew it was something that people would resonate with,” Brian Sigmon, an Abingdon Press editor, wrote in an email.
On June 3, Good Shepherd Church will host a book release party for “Head Scratchers,” Davis’ first book. Abingdon has two more books of Davis’ sermons in the works.
“In my wildest dreams, I would have never though those lessons on social media would result in three books in a year and a half,” Davis said.
Davis has been preaching at Methodist churches for 25 years: nine years at Mt. Carmel United Methodist in Monroe and 16 years at Good Shepherd Church.
Davis said he had wanted to turn his sermons into a book for several years, but he had “no idea how to go about doing it.” Last August, he received an email out of the blue from Abingdon.
The publisher wanted to know if he’d be interested in turning the “Head Scratchers” sermons into a book.
“It really was like asking me if I’d be interested in taking my next breath,” Davis said.
Sigmon said that Abingdon wanted to get the book into production right away. To make that happen, he used Davis’ written sermons and watched Good Shepherd Sunday services online because Davis often adds more material during his delivery.
Davis’ sermon series “The Shadow of a Doubt” and “The Storm Before the Calm” will also become books.
In “Head Scratchers,” Davis formed each sermon around a difficult-to-understand saying of Jesus such as “let the dead bury their own dead.”
“Talbot provides the historical and literary background to help you understand what Jesus meant and his information and insight are very good,” Sigmon wrote in an email. “But what sets his writing apart is how he connects these insights with your life and our world today.
“He understands the problems people face, the fears that they have, the ways they need to be challenged, and the hope they need to see.”
Davis said that his sermons – and the books – include stories of people and happenings at Good Shepherd Church.
“This is really something the whole church has done together,” Davis said. “We are going to celebrate that who we are gets a wider platform. We’re just glad that the message and the DNA of our church is going beyond our little corner.”
Davis also hopes the church will help Methodist churches grow “strong and faithful followers of Jesus” and spread the word locally about Good Shepherd’s work.
The public is invited to Good Shepherd Church on June 3 for Davis’ book release party. “Head Scratchers” will be on sale for $10, and all proceeds will go to On Eagles Wings, a nonprofit that operates a home in the Charlotte area for underage victims of sex trafficking.
Marty Minchin is a freelance writer. Have a story idea for Marty? Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.