Thursday, November 06, 2008

Summary Service for busy Christians

Heather and Chris Goodman present a new summary service for busy Christians.

Solomon Summaries provides solutions for busy Christians who want to both maximize their limited time and increase their awareness of both current and classic Christian non-fiction books. This unique subscription summary service provides subscribers with a 10-page summary of a non-fiction book, a review of the book, and group discussion questions every week. These summaries are not intended to replace the content of the entire book but rather to provide a synopsis of the key points from the book. Solomon Summaries encourages dialogue, helps readers decide which books to buy and read, and tickles minds with new ideas and concepts that might warrant further exploration by the reader.

Solomon Summaries is an excellent resource for pastors and other church leaders who want to keep up with current Christian books their congregations are reading. Additionally, church leaders can utilize the summaries to help select books for use in small groups and Sunday Schools or to be added to their church libraries.

Authors who write for the Christian market will also find Solomon Summaries useful in keeping up current thinking and trends.

For more information visit

Tell me a little bit about your background and your family.

Chris–I have a strong background as an entrepreneur and business executive along with a passion for ministry and missions. I’ve served on the regional board for Young Life and the steering committee for Come Glorify Jesus a citywide prayer event in Dallas, Texas and currently spend much of my time thinking about the intersection of the Internet and ministry.
Heather–I began reading from the womb. Close to it, at least. When I was three, I memorized my favorite book (Raggedy Ann and Andy’s Please and Thank You book), even knowing when to look at which page. My mom told friends I could read. (She told them the truth after they oohed and ahwed.)

I’m passionate about books, music, art, and theology, particularly when they go together. My undergrad’s in music, and my master’s in theology. I write and teach (and read in between).

What do you like to do in your spare time? Hobbies?

We love to get out and experience God’s goodness in nature. We enjoy camping (tent camping, not cabins… but we do make sure to bring steaks and salmon), hiking up waterfalls and visiting the Dallas Arboretum. Then there’s the symphony and theater. Heather secretly wishes to be a Broadway star. She entertains herself by breaking out into song and dance (whether anyone’s watching or not!). We also love social-Christianity, living the journey of trusting Christ with one another and with others - getting together to discuss life’s struggles, triumphs and joys. And, of course, reading.
What has God been teaching you lately?

God had really been stirring a passion in our hearts to engage people in authentic, relevant, and transformational discussions about Christianity. Our society’s beginning to move to a more post-Christian culture. On the other hand, God in his grace leaves imprints of himself everywhere–in stories, art, business, and especially in the Church. We love talking about how culture intersects with Truth–how it shows Truth, and where it needs to be transformed by Truth.

Through Heather’s writing and speaking, Chris’ work with, and projects like Solomon Summaries, we have opportunities to help people see the Bible and God as relevant issues from practical everyday decisions about weekly financial and church life to bigger questions like purpose, calling and gifting.

Tell me about your relationship with reading over your life. How have books shaped you? Any one in particular?

LOL. We probably could not have two more polar answers to this question. I (Heather) love reading and engaging with the stories of life and meaning. In fact, I relish long lines at the grocery store, post office, and red lights when I can whip out a book and catch a few more paragraphs. Some of my closest friends are characters in books–Anne of Green Gables and Jo March, for example. I learn and understand Truth (i.e. ideas such as sacrifice, redemption, love, faith, humanity, corruption, creativity) through stories. Some of my favorites include Back When We Were Grownups by Anne Tyler, Nobody’s Fool by Richard Russo, The Living End by Lisa Samson, and The Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens.

There have been some key theological books as well that have resonated with me and challenged me to think in a different way, such as The Character of Theology by John Franke, Surprised by Hope by N.T. Wright, and currently The Beauty of God, a collection of essays about art and Christianity from a conference in Wheaton.

I (Chris) see reading as a bridge that unfortunately has to be crossed to assess the wisdom I seeks – I love to learn but hate to read (he says with an antagonistic smile). I’ve been strongly influenced by books like Good To Great by Jim Collins, 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing by Trout and Reese in addition to Eat This Book by Eugene Peterson and Choose the Life by Bill Hull. Choose the Life has been a joyful, painful experience that challenges me to ponder living in submission to Christ daily and authentically.

We have one thing in common–the books we pile around the house, Chris because he wants to learn as much as possible, and Heather because she can’t be in a room without a book.

Where are you headed next?

Wherever my imagination takes me–as a nymph in a forest, a dolphin in the ocean, or an artist in Italy (Heather).

Seriously, we’d love to see Solomon Summaries grow and become a platform for engaging wider audiences (translations to other languages, broader topics etc.). Our heart is to encourage people to read more and to see books as gateways to “stand on the shoulders of giants.” We hope these books will spark discussions that will cause us to peer further into our own lives and will give us opportunities for Christian impact in a hurting, lonely world.

What inspired you to begin a business like this? Why did you want to start it?

I (Chris) found a growing chasm between the amount of books I want to absorb and the amount of time available to read them (not so much due to time shrinking, but because there are so many amazing books). In the business world, I had access to executive book summary services for years to glean the latest business wisdom and I dreamed of something similar for Christian books.

I (Heather) am passionate about all things books. I love the idea of raising awareness of what’s out there.

In a culture that has adopted “I’m busy” as a standard response to the question “how are you?”, there seems to be an interesting opportunity to engage people in bite size chunks with the key points from a book on Christian living. Hopefully, this will help readers triage which books they want to look at further. Also, we want to help lay leaders choose good materials and resources for Sunday school classes, small groups, mentoring relationships, and leadership training and help pastors stay in touch with what’s out there and what their congregations are reading.

As you have explained the idea to people, what has been the general reaction?

Reactions have been very positive thus far. For some, the concept is a bit new. But when they finally get it, they get very excited. For others, especially business men and women, they’ve seen the concept before and quickly value the opportunity to glean wisdom from many of the christian nonfiction books they’ve been wanting to read for years like Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis. Many people have heard of the book. Some have even bought it. But few have actually read it and can share the insight of Lewis with their friends or coworkers.

And pastors seem to appreciate the frustration of not being able to keep up with all the great books out there. Whether it’s for their own understanding or being able to answer questions people ask them about various books, they seem to value the ability to stay current with their limited time budget. Solomon Summaries can also help them decide which books to spend their valuable reading time on.

How do you choose the books that are reviewed?

We primarily choose books that are of interest to our audience–books they would like to know more about, books they are considering buying or books they’ve heard in a conversation and want to have an opinion about. We look at new releases, bestsellers, general Christian living books, and we have a poll on our website to find out what books our readers would like us to summarize.

How has it been working together as a husband-wife team?

It’s been a really great way of integrating our various skills and passions. Heather’s passion for reading and working with our team of summary writers to discuss truth balance Chris’ business, technical and missions interests. There are times of frustration to be sure, especially in the fast-paced, high cost start-up phase of a new ministry venture, but overwhelmingly we’ve found the experience to be very positive and something we can do together. It’s been a good lesson in learning to communicate better.

What is your vision for Solomon Summaries?

Well that is an interesting question. As future-thinking people, we have great interest in seeing Solomon Summaries become a platform for engagement and growth. Based on the initial reaction and how passionately people share the idea with their friends (and we’re hoping people will be very excited and share it with lots of friends), we are in discussion on a number of additional pieces of the puzzle (what Chris calls the blueprint) to offer value to book readers and small group book discussions. We’d also like to get the authors of the books more involved in the discussion. We’ll be paying close attention to subscribers and their interests and ultimately it will grow into what people want and need to help them in their lives.

**Disclaimer: Novel Journey is not endorsing this site and can’t vouch for all content, but it appears to be a unique service with qualities beneficial to our readers.


Ane Mulligan said...

Sounds like a good place to learn about non-fiction books - kind of like what Novle Reviews is to the fiction world. :)

heather said...

Thanks for letting others know about the service.
Wanted to let you guys know that in effort to let others get to know us, we're offering the service free until December.