CPH has, what very well might become one of the most exciting new opportunities for the church. It’s called the Concordia Writer’s Cooperative. You produce materials, you upload, CPH sends it through doctrinal review, people find it and (hopefully) purchase it. Here is my initial reaction.
1. A great way for CPH editorial to find qualified writers. They can peruse it if they are looking for a specific genre of writer, find the best, and then use them for resources from the main catalog. Or, they can look at sales stats and see what is selling, and develop more of those resources, or use those writers for other things. Who knows, perhaps the next Bo Giertz is scrawling away in some small church in Kansas as we speak.
2. It gives pastors a chance to not only polish their materials, but also send them through doctrinal review. Perhaps some pastor will send something off, find out he was in error, and correct it in his teaching.
3. It offers a potentially great resource for pastors to find other materials. CPH is bound by the rules of the publishing industry – they must at least break even at the end of the year. For every volume of Gerhardt that is published, they have to sell a lot of offering envelopes. They can’t have 37 bible studies on “Confession”. None of them would sell more than 2 copies, and funds would have to be diverted from the Gerhardt project. Now, pastors can search through more resources, and find just the right one for their situation.
4. Most pastors are small time publishers anyway (Bulletins, newsletters, pamphlets, etc.) This offers a place to share ideas inexpensively.
Areas of Caution :
1. Thy may need to get more doctrinal reviewers. Just saying.
2. It could become, like many other parts of the web, so much information that it becomes useless. The search algorithms will be very important, and I hope the computer guys are up to the task.
3. (I’ve commented on this to them, but we’ll see) They will need to develop some sort of policy statement for using the CPH copyrighted “fundamentals”, ei. the catechism, McCain edition of Concord, CPh hymns, etc. If they don’t do that, the copyright department will be inundated with requests for “This hymn verse” or “That article of the Augstana,” or “the collect for the feast of Saint Aloysius”. When you are just doing it for your own parish (non-saleable educational materials) you can get away with a fair use claim if you are using short portions, but if you are publishing – on the CPH website no less – you will need to get permission. This may have the good benefit (finally) of CPH issuing specific statements about use of collects, catechism, etc, along the lines of the Crossway statement about the ESV, which really should be the industry standard for permissions for the fundamental texts of the church.
UPDATE : 4. They should allow writers to upload in other formats. While PDF could certainly be the standard, if a pastor wanted to have a Children’s service, and allow it to be edited as needed by the end-user, allowing a Word Document (or some other editable format) would be very helpful. A pastor might even say, “Here is a bible study, now you edit it…” or “Here is a sermon manuscript, make it your own…” I was going to suggest it, but I think I have bothered them enough for one day. Incidentally, I’m not the only one in our synod to think that PDF is overused.