Max Lucado honoured for 35 years of writing books the world loves

Bestselling author and pastor Max Lucado has been awarded the 2021 Evangelical Christian Publishers Association (ECPA) Pinnacle Award for the outstanding contribution of his writing, both to the publishing industry and society at large.

Lucado is only the fourth recipient of this ECPA honour that recognizes outstanding contribution by an author or book. Over the years, the ECPA has presented 43 additional industry awards to Lucado titles — including 16 Christian Book Awards, 9 Platinum Sales Awards (for more than 1 million sold), and 18 Gold Sales Awards (for more than 500,000 sold). He has also won the ECPA Christian Book of the Year three times.

“I was a bookseller in 1985, and I clearly remember when our store received On the Anvil [Lucado’s first book] for the first time,” said ECPA president Stan Jantz.

“The accessibility of the writing, and the clear expression of the heart of someone who loved Jesus more than anything, were early indicators that this was a special author.”

Lucado has sold more than 145 million products during the past 35 years – a huge achievement in Christian publishing. His books are printed in 45 languages and distributed through 80 countries. They regularly appear on bestseller lists, including The New York Times, Wall Street Journal and USA Today. His writing has also been featured in Bible studies, Bible commentaries, songs, greeting cards, feature films, and even plush toys.

To date, a whopping 23 of Lucado’s titles have sold more than 1 million copies.

“God’s grace, mercy, and unconditional love has been discovered by millions of people because of Max’s devotion and love for his Lord and Saviour,” says Mark Schoenwald, president and CEO of HarperCollins Christian Publishing (HCCP), Lucado’s publisher of 31 years.

Lucado entered the ministry as a pastor in 1978. He was dubbed “America’s Pastor” by Christianity Today, and “The Best Preacher in America” by Reader’s Digest. Lucado currently serves as Teaching Minister of Oak Hills Church in San Antonio, Texas.

As a writer, Max is known for combining poetic storytelling and homespun humour with the heart of a pastor.

“Stories like that are solid gold because they will stick in someone’s memory,” Lucado told Eternity last year. “People will go home from church and they won’t be talking about my doctrine, but they’ll say, ‘That Lucado story … That’ll connect.”

“I’m pretty willing to share it if … creates an opportunity for a reader to turn their heart toward God” – Max Lucado

Lucado weaves deeply personal stories from his own life throughout his books. He even revealed that he suffered childhood sexual abuse in his most recent release, You Are Never Alone.

“I’m pretty open. The days that ministry have been hard for me are the days that I’ve tried to appear like I’ve got it all together. That doesn’t work for me. In fact, I do a lot better when I try not to. I’m just an open book,” he explains.

Though there are stories Lucado can’t or won’t share, he says “if something happened to me, I’m pretty willing to share it if I think it’ll create intimacy between me and the reader, and also create an opportunity for that reader to turn their heart toward God.”

This pastoral heart prompted Lucado to start daily video “check ins” to care for people during the COVID-19 pandemic. The videos have been viewed more than 45 million times and were the catalyst for launching “The Max Lucado Encouraging Word Podcast” which has had more than 1.6 million downloads in its first ten months.

Lucado’s love for everyday people he channels through his writing really began when he first met Christ as a rebellious teenager living in the small town of Andrews, Texas. His life revolved around drinking alcohol and chasing girls. Lucado now believes that if Jesus hadn’t found him and changed his heart, alcoholism would have been in his future.

After high school, Max attended Abilene Christian University and graduated with two degrees and a heart for following Jesus and helping others learn about him, too. He moved to Miami, Florida, and took a position as an associate pastor at a small church, where Max started writing about Jesus for the first time in the church’s monthly newsletter. Florida was also where Max met his wife, Denalyn. Together, they lived first in Miami and then spent several years in Rio de Janeiro, helping plant churches.

The newsletters Max wrote to family and friends while in Rio, along with the newsletters he wrote at his church in Miami, eventually formed the manuscript of his first book, On the Anvil.

While he is widely loved and respected, Lucado also has been caught in the crosshairs of the media. Just last year, Lucado was under fire for holding a prayer service for racial repentance.

“We had a citywide prayer service and in it [was] a wonderful Black brother of mine – I only mention this, that he’s Black, because we prayed about racial reconciliation and offered a prayer of repentance,” Lucado explained to Eternity last year.

“It stirred up some frustration and anger – ‘Why should we repent?’ and ‘What do we have to do with that?’” recalled Lucado.

Yet, while Lucado will always obey God’s promptings, his preference is always to leave politics outside church.

“I don’t want anybody to not come to our church because they think I’m going to talk about politics … However – however – ­sometimes I feel such a burden that I’ve just got to say something,” he said.

Lucado’s forthcoming title, You Were Made for This Moment, will release in September from Thomas Nelson.

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