Today I’m bringing you an interview with Chuck Tate, founding pastor of Rock Church in Peoria Illinois, and author of 41 Will Come: Holding On When Life Gets Tough–and Standing Strong Until a New Day Dawns. Remember all those biblical stories with 40 days of hard waiting? Chuck has a really inspiring message of hope, because he knows from Scripture and from life what it means to wait, and how God is faithful to the end.
I’ll be giving away one copy of 41 Will Come, so read to the end for details.
I first met Chuck at a writing conference. The conference included a contest for the best book proposal, and the prize was a contract for publication. Chuck won.
Interview with Chuck Tate
GNH: Chuck, it was great meeting you at the Re:Write conference and hear about your book when 41 Will Come was still pre-contract. Then it was a thrill to see you get the prize for the proposal contest. Thanks for being willing to come on my blog for an interview.
Every book has a back story. What was the initial seed of this one? How did God plant it?
Chuck: The 41 Will Come concept began as a sermon when I was a youth pastor, but morphed into a “life message” as the years went by. The seed to turn it into a book was ignited on the way home from a professional indoor football game, but you will have to read the book to find out why! [wink]
GNH: Now your book has headed out into the world. What would you say is its mission? What do you want to happen in your readers’ lives?
Chuck: The mission of 41 Will Come is to fuel faith and instill hope within all who read it. My vision for “41” is that readers will be so filled with hope after reading that they will dream big, dream again, and hold on until their own longing is fulfilled.
GNH: I’ve got to say, Chuck, you are an amazing storyteller. You keep the pages turning and draw the reader in by the heartstrings. How did you learn to do that? (And please, I beg you, share your secrets.)
Chuck: First of all, Gary, thank you for the kind words. The best way to tell a story is to be as descriptive as possible while “keeping it real”. The more you write, the better you will become. Practice, practice, practice. Hey, I even dedicated an entire chapter to practice/preparation.
As far as secrets go, this is the one thing I do before ever writing a story: I practice telling the story. Because I’m a pastor, I present for a living—so I spend time crafting/perfecting stories from the stage before writing them out.
GNH: A long time ago (like from the Middle Ages back to the Early Church) Christian preachers were a lot more prone to focus on the significant numbers in Scripture. Not just 40, but 12, 7, 3, and 1 are significant in big stories. These days many Christians think any focus on biblical numbers is superstitious. How do you squeeze the goodness out of 40 and 41 without finding yourself going down a wrong path?
Chuck: I will be the first to admit that there is nothing magical or mystical about the 40/41 combination, but after reviewing all of the instances in Scripture, its significance cannot be ignored.
GNH: Are there other key biblical numbers that you think Christians should spend some time exploring?
Chuck: Obviously, the number seven oftentimes represents completion and the number three seems to have some significance attached to it, but I will leave that up to somebody else. I don’t desire to be “the number guy.”
GNH: What did you learn about yourself as you wrote this book? Did God have good discoveries for you in the process?
Chuck: I learned that I must not only practice what I preach, but I must walk-out what I write. I don’t want to over-spiritualize it, but I seemed to experience more personal “attacks” and setbacks than normal during this entire publishing journey. A couple months ago I was venting to my wife (and feeling sorry for myself) and her response was, “You need to read your own book.” Ahh, thank God for the Holy Spirit…and my wife. 🙂
GNH: What was one surprising story on the road to publication?
Chuck: Looking back, it was a number of divine appointments more than one surprising moment. I guess the entire journey of landing my publishing contract was pretty nonconventional, but I’m 100% convinced God orchestrated the entire process. So…to answer your question (LOL) — if I had to pick one surprising story, it would be how I almost missed the cutoff deadline for the contest that landed me the contract.
GNH: Any advice for pastors out there (and others) who think they have a book inside them?
Chuck: Start writing or blogging. Work on your craft. Practice. Brainstorm. Habakkuk 2 says to write down your vision — so write down your book titles and chapter descriptions. Create files and start collecting relatable content. Become intentional about building your platform. Commit the entire book idea/dream to God and surround it in prayer.
GNH: What will your next book be?
Chuck: “42 Is Here”. Kidding. The next book I want to write is a 41-day devotional (for individuals and small groups) that shares 41 testimonies (stories) that are a direct result of 41 Will Come.
GNH: The devotional will be great, I’m sure.
But listen: 42 Is Here would be a brilliant follow-up book. What do we do when we get where we wanted to go?
Moses had to deal with those rascally Israelites at the foot of Mt. Sinai. The Israelites had to deal with life as God’s people in the Promised Land. Someone who finally finds a spouse has to learn how to be married. Land a contract and you have to actually produce the book. That kind of thing.
We need help with 42, Chuck. I’m just sayin’.
How can readers connect with you online?
Chuck: By visiting my blog (chucketate.com). I also stay pretty active on Facebook (facebook.com/chucketate), Twitter (@ChuckETate), and Instagram (chucketate), so those are ways to connect with me almost daily.
GNH: Anything else you would like to say to my readers?
Chuck: I would like to leave a closing remark to the reader who feels like your moment passed you by. It’s never too late to dream again and you are never too old start over. The Scriptures are filled with numerous examples of second chances and new beginnings. You serve a God who doesn’t need to consult with your past when mapping out your future. He saw you doing “good deeds” before you even showed up on Planet Earth. Micah 7:8 says, “Do not gloat over me, my enemies! For though I fall, I will rise again.” Get up! Dream again. Start over.
GNH: Thanks, Chuck, for being willing to be interviewed on my blog. I pray your book will be a blessing to many. It is a good word, and so deeply needed.
Chuck: Thank you, Gary, for the opportunity to share about 41 Will Come and my publishing experience. I enjoyed having lunch in Austin, especially when I realized I had read your “sample bio” via Chad Allen’s Book Proposal Academy. Another divine appointment indeed. 🙂
Chuck Tate is the founder and lead pastor of RockChurch, a growing and thriving congregation in the heart of Illinois. He is also a regular contributor for CharismaMag.com and host of a weekly podcast (41 Strong) on PeoriaLife.com. Prior to planting RockChurch in 1998, Chuck worked for a national youth ministry in Tulsa, Oklahoma. In that role, he managed and spoke at conventions across the United States and Canada, and co-produced a national television program that aired on Trinity Broadcasting Network. Chuck and his wife, Annette, are the parents of Savannah and Ashton. 41 Will Come is his first book.
Leave a comment below for a chance to get a free copy of 41 Will Come. On September 14 I’ll randomly select the name of one commenter and announce the winner.
Ask Chuck a question, and hopefully he’ll be by to answer it.
Of course you can also get a copy on Amazon.com by clicking here.
There are affiliate links in this post.