Talking with Dr. Larry Richards
Know anyone who has written over 250 Christian books and influenced millions of minds over the last 40 years? I do, and his name is Dr. Lawrence O. Richards. Larry was one of my grad school professors, and I was on hand when his first two trailblazing books were released, A New Face for the Church, a book about congregational renewal, and Creative Bible Teaching, a book that should be on the shelf of every preacher, teacher and Christian writer.
Larry wrote many books about the theological foundation of church leadership and Christian education, such as A Theology Of Church Leadership, A Theology of Christian Education. Since then he has shifted his emphasis somewhat to books about practical Christian living like Every Teaching Of Jesus In The Bible and It Couldn’t Just Happen: Fascinating Facts About God’s World.
Larry provided this exclusive interview to ChristianWritingToday.com.
– The Editor
CWT: You have written over 250 books. The latest, Full Armor of God, The: Defending Your Life From Satan’s Schemes was published by Chosen Books last month. This means you have averaged about six books per year. What kind of personal regimen have you maintained over the years to accomplish that?
Richards: For many years I simply got up at 5:30 and started writing. I’m not quite that disciplined these days. But I’m always excited about what I’m working on currently. It’s not hard to be disciplined when you’re excited about the latest project, and convinced it’s what God has for you to do just now. I’m not terribly concerned about having a word count goal. I try to keep chapters to about 4,000-5,000 words. My day’s work is based on time. I make sure I quit in time for family.
CWT: Your books share a common thread. They all make sometimes complex theological concepts accessible to the average person. How do you organize your thoughts and your writing process to do that?
Richards: The most important thing for me is to dig into Scripture. After I’ve studied the topic thoroughly, then I’ll read a number of books on the topic, just to check my own understanding. It’s a real danger to start with others’ books. As the wise old lady once commented, “The Bible sheds a lot of light on the commentaries.”
CWT: You sharpened your intellectual gifts with a Th.M. degree from Dallas Theological Seminary and a Ph.D. from Northwestern University. You have pastoral skills, and you were a college professor, yet you decided to focus on writing. Why?
Richards: I loved teaching, and still do. But you can reach so many more people with your writing. The NIV Teen Study Bible, that I developed for Zondervan with my wife, Sue, has been used by over 4,000,000 young people. It would take a lot of hours in the classroom to have that kind of impact. But aside from that, it’s a matter of calling. God leads each of us into ministries where he can use us, whether that’s teaching in a grad school or a Sunday school, ministering to our own families, or writing for the church bulletin or wider publication.
CWT: Most authors have a website that promotes their books, but your website, DemonDope.com, deals with biblical demonology. Why have you chosen to write so many articles on that topic?
Richards: I didn’t start out to focus on Spiritual Warfare. But when I started to write a series of six novels [Earthbound: The Invisible War Series] on the conflict between angels and demons, we came under definite demonic attack. So I had to learn all I could about what Satan is up to, and about the resources believers have to combat him. In time this led me into deliverance ministry, the Freedom Workshops I conduct around the country, and of course my blog, www.demondope.com.
CWT: What advice would you give to a young writer who is thinking about specializing in Christian nonfiction?
Richards: The best advice? Saturate yourself in Scripture. Think about your own life experiences, and go back to the Bible to put them in perspective. Keep on being curious about your own and other’s lives, and do read widely. Just remember. Let the books raise questions that you and others need answering, but let the Bible shape your answers. And express what you discover in God’s word in what you write.