Friday Five Interview – Renee Johnson
So today, I’m honored to have my friend Renee Johnson stop by. Unless you’re under a rock, you’ll know she’s the world-famous, “devotional diva.” Seriously Renee has been writing devos for 20-somethings for quite some time now. They are downloaded, tweeted, read by email, and forwarded by thousands of young people around the world.
Lately she put them into a really cool book Faithbook of Jesus, a unique devotional for twenty-somethings that combines biblical wisdom, relevant humor, and a chance to connect on her online platform. Renee’s mission in life is to “spur others forward” (Hebrews 10:24), using the lessons learned from her own trials to encourage others in their walk with God. Recently Renee helped launch a non-profit ministry that helps launch other speakers, pastor’s, and faith-based ministries.
1) So you’re the “devotional diva” – how did you begin writing devos?
I started READING daily devotionals when I was 15 years old. I made a vow to God that year that I would read through the entire Bible because I was sick and desperate for healing. Thirteen years later I’m still in the Word every day and have gone through dozens of devotional books. I started WRITING devotionals in the early 00’s and been blogging them since 04. My mentor saw that I had over 400 devotionals saved and nicknamed me the “Devotional Diva” and it just…stuck!
2) You worked with a lot of Christian speakers and entertainers in your position with Outreach Events. Did this “inside” status change your thinking on the evangelical world?
I had the best day job ever. Even the President of the company, Scott Evans, told me to my face! I told him at the time, “you can’t have my job!” Oops. But, seriously-I loved the position I had and the influence to help serve pastors, ministry leaders while matching them with the appropriate speaker and comedian. During those two years, God grew me and stretched me BEYOND my wildest dreams. I am still processing the “inside” status because the events I booked are still happening. It was awesome to hear reports of those who came to Christ and which events went well…and my FAVORITE part was making sure the church had the right speaker. God used this fire and passion to help me move on to become the speaker and author He wants me to be.
3) You speak quite a bit to thirty-something’s in the church. What, in your view, are people in our generation looking for from the church and are they finding it?
I think we’re looking for truth. Keeping it real. It’s hard to follow someone who isn’t “leading.” My generation (I’m 28) is all about asking questions and not being afraid to take risks-even if it means losing everything. Well, I lost everything in my life (four times), and this is one of the questions that I am actually currently working on. It’s a work in progress my friend!
4) As a writer, I’m always intrigued by each book story. How did Faithbook of Jesus get from your head to the bestselling aisle at Barnes and Noble? (next to Pete Wilson, I might add)
I want to ad that I placed my book on the bestselling aisle. I did find my book next to Pete Wilson at B&N and good ole’ Pete twittered me back and told me to front load it. So I did!
I took all my hundreds of devotionals saved, re-worked them, added a nationwide survey of over 300+ 20-somethings while carefully matching them with each devo, creating an online platform where my readers could interact with each devo…and phew all in four months. That was the hardest four months of my life. But, backing up a bit-my agent and publisher, NavPress, found me via Twitter. All good things come to those who tweet!
5) You’ve launched yourself into this new venture called Throw Mountains. What is the purpose of this new ministry endeavor?
Throw Mountains is a pro-church speaking tour for the 20/30-somethings and the churches who love them. My generation is RUNNING away from church, but not away from God. My goal is to help create the conversations with those who feel disillusioned with Christianity (as Anne Rice said), and point them to Christ.