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Author Spotlight: Tom Corcoran, Author of Rebuilt and Tools for Rebuilding

July 28, 2014

Our final book in the summer Book of the Week series is Rebuilt, which has stormed the world in just over one year of publication. With more than 70,000 copies sold, the book has been read, studied, and applied in many parishes. The authors, Fr. Michael White and Tom Corcoran, have become sought after speakers about parish renewal and evangelization. They teamed up a second time for a follow-up book titled Tools for Rebuilding and are working on another project together to be introduced at a later date.

We asked Tom Corcoran a few questions about his experiences since Rebuilt released in 2013. 

1. When did you first have the idea to compile your experience at Church of the Nativity into a book?

In fall 2009, we had the idea of sharing our story and some of the strategies that were working in our church. We had learned a great deal from evangelical mega-churches and had seen some success in our parish from implementing their best practices. We were encouraged by these churches and wanted to encourage Catholic parishes and help them know there is a way forward. I began writing and over time Fr. Michael began rewriting and making it better. 

2. Since its publication more than a year ago, Rebuilt has sold more than 70,000 copies. As you were writing the book, did you ever think it was going to be such a huge success? 

We come at two different perspectives on this. Fr. Michael just wanted to get the book out and didn't set any expectations about what the book would accomplish. I prayed that it would sell 100,000 copies. That number was not based in anything as I tend to just get numbers in my head and shoot for them. I didn't know that was a big number, so over all I would say no we didn't quite expect the success of the book. 

3. You receive tons of emails and phone calls with questions from other parishes. Based on those interactions, what would you say are the most common questions and challenges that Catholic parishes are struggling with today?

One of the biggest questions comes down to how to handle the inevitable push back from making changes in a parish. People want to know if there will be conflict (and the answer is almost always "yes") and how to handle the conflict well. 

Another big question comes from parishioners and volunteers in a parish about how to influence their pastor to read the book and apply some of the principles. We tell people to build a solid relationship with the pastor and go humbly. 

The third biggest question is about small groups and how to start or develop them. 

4. You wrote Tools for Rebuilding, a follow-up to Rebuilt, soon after the publication of your first book. How would you explain the difference between those two books to new readers?

Rebuilt tells our story and the main strategies we tried that God blessed in the transformation of the parish. Tools for Rebuilding gives some practical advice and lessons we have learned working at the parish. Rebuilt is about vision, mission, and strategy for a local parish while Tools offers more tactical advice. 

5. You and Fr. Michael worked together for a number of years in the parish, but what was the experience like writing a book together?

We are blessed in that we compliment each other very well when it comes to writing a book or communication of any kind. I love a blank page and get energized by it. Michael loves to edit and re-write, while that drains me. The books are an extension of our working relationship. It is really a great partnership and we are blessed by it. 


About Tom Corcoran

Tom Corcoran has served Church of the Nativity in Timonium, Maryland, in a variety of roles that give him a unique perspective on parish ministry and leadership. First hired as a youth minister, Corcoran has also served as coordinator of children’s ministry and director of small groups. He is lay associate to the pastor and is responsible for weekend message development, strategic planning, and staff development. 

Corcoran is the coauthor of Rebuilt—which narrates the story of Nativity’s rebirth—Tools for RebuildingRebuilding Your Message, and The Rebuilt Field Guide.

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