I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve pre-ordered a book, and I’d still have five fingers left over.  (In case you’re wondering: no, I’m not a genetically altered six-fingered mutant.)

Editor’s Note: ask him about the toes.

But today, I count myself in the ranks with you oddball Harry Potter and Nicholas Sparks fans.  Today, we are four weeks away from a book I’ve been anticipating like Jason Gaston anticipates duck season.  Last week, I pre-ordered a copy for myself and one for every member of my Connections staff (sorry to ruin the Christmas surprise, guys).  I even ordered a few extra, because you never know.

The book is called Lasting Impressions by a hero-I’ve-never-met, Mark Waltz (his blog has been a constant presence in my “You Need to Read…” links).

Before you get snarky: yes, he is a Connections Pastor as well.   No, we’d never heard of him or that title when I was hired as the CP here back in ’03.

Yes, he calls his guest services team First Impressions.  No, I’d never heard of him or that title when we named our guest services team.

Yes, his last name is Waltz.  No, I don’t know how to dance.

Even though I’ve never met Mark personally, he’s a kindred spirit.  He was the First Impressions Guy before First Impressions were cool.  His first book is the first and final authority on the subject of caring for and loving on the guests at your church.  My copy is so marked up and written in that I should probably order another one just for the heck of it.

But on December 9th, I get to read Mark’s take not on how to greet guests, but how to keep guests.  And as a guest-services nerd, that excites me very, very much.  If you’re a pastor – or if you have anything to do with people at your church – order this book while I catch my breath from all the obnoxious sucking up. 

Editor’s Note: got any ideas of a good book title if J.K. Rowling and Nicholas Sparks ever co-authored something?

Yes.  It would have to be called Harry Potter and the Chamber Where the Main Character Dies at the End and All the Women Cry.