Ministering Through Writing: The World Needs to Hear Your Voice

I moderate an online critique group, the Christian Writers Circle, on Scribophile. Certainly, it is not a ministry outlet I expected when I left the private sector to work in ministry. As it turns out, God has had a different plan for ministry than I personally had envisioned. Today, I recognize that for me, writing is ministry, just as much as being a worship musician is.

Part of my writing ministry is this blog, The Devotional Guy. Since launching it at the end of 2013, I’ve seen the blog grow, albeit slowly. Ministry isn’t quick. Often, individuals minister without fully seeing the fruit of their efforts. Noah built an ark. None of his neighbors appear to have been converted by his monumental exercise in faith. Jeremiah, the Old Testament prophet, not only didn’t have any converts, he made people angry by preaching the truth. They wanted to silence him in a very permanent way (if you know what I mean). Yet, he wrote prolifically and so his voice continues to be heard in the generations that came long after his. The results of God at work aren’t always as clear and obvious as people (like me) want them to be. Yet, we press on faithfully.

You may have recently decided to use your writing talent to share the Gospel, to inspire people, and to do good things for the advancement of the Kingdom. You quickly learn that writing is often a solitary endeavor. Know that you are never alone. There are others–you just have to find and seek them out–who share your passion for blogging and writing to inspire.

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This past week, rummaging through the clearance shelves at my local Half-Price Books, I ran across the book “Writing to Inspire.” It looks like an old book. The print is reminiscent of the early word processor fonts that we thought were so impressive when they first hit the scene. Yes, kids, word processors were considered advanced technology once upon a time. Crazy. The cover is faded and slightly tattered. Published in 1982. Yikes! I feel as old as the book looks now.

“Writing to Inspire” is an anthology edited by William Gentz featuring articles written by several faith writers of a generation past. In the 1980s, the religious market for writing was exploding. The book offers insights on how to get published and find niche markets geared for Christian writers. Several of the articles offer insights into writing better and producing marketable, readable stories, poems, articles and scripts for Christian television and film. It’s a good book highlighting an expansive subject.

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Knowing that others came before us helps us. The Bible, supernaturally inspired by God, is written by human hands. Jeremiah had a friend, Baruch, who served as his scribe and is believed to have helped Jeremiah with writing the books of Jeremiah, Lamentations, and the Book of Kings (1 Kings and 2 Kings).

2 Timothy 3:16-17(NIV) All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

So, you see, writing has played a significant role throughout the history of faith and has proven to be an instrumental ministry to believers through the ages. Blogging is simply a digital form of writing, that can be used to advance God’s kingdom and bring Him praise and glory in the process. Do not be discouraged my faith-writing friend; God promises us that He is with us wherever we go.

Keep writing and blogging! 

The world needs to hear your voice. 

 

Images courtesy of the fine artists at Pixabay.

Using Your Creativity to Advance the Gospel

Jesus loved to tell stories to teach the disciples and even the crowds that gathered in every place that He and the disciples visited. In those days, there weren’t any printed newspapers. The internet didn’t exist. No radio. No TV. Jesus and his troupe generally walked on foot, from town to town. Of course, Scripture notes the occasional boat trip. The stories of their visits traveled around the region, eventually spreading all around the world. Hardly a place exists that hasn’t heard about the story of Jesus and the miracles He performed and the healing that He brought.

We know from the beginning of Scripture that God is creative. He loves to create. He created us, after all. And everything else that IS. As image-bearers of God, we all carry a creative gene in us. Some perhaps more than others. Or maybe, some folks have the opportunity to tap into their creativity more than other people. But many of us yearn to create. I believe the desire to create is part of the God-gene that dwells inside us. Through our creativity, we can pay homage to God, bringing Him glory and praise.

It makes perfect sense, at least to me, that we use our gifts and talents to bring God glory and to tell God stories. God is at work all around us. The world desperately needs to hear, see, read, and experience stories of Jesus transforming lives. The world needs us to share how prayer IS working. We can’t keep these things quiet. We shouldn’t. Rather, we should shout them from every mountaintop.

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Yes, it’s easy to get caught up in the darkness and lose sight of the good things happening all around us every single day. A plane making it from point A to point B isn’t deemed newsworthy. We prefer to stop and look at train wrecks over celebrating that millions of people got from one place to another successfully without incident. Good news travels. Bad news travels faster. At least that’s what we’ve come to believe.

But maybe it’s not that good news travels slow or that there is a lack of interest in hearing stories about ordinary people experiencing super exceptional things. Maybe we need to use the tools available to us today to share the work we see God doing and how we see prayer working. How can people know if we don’t tell them? How can they hear if we don’t speak? Ultimately, that’s our job as believers–to share the love of Christ with those we encounter. Through sharing the stories of God at work, we point people in the direction of faith. By sharing our God-stories, we point people to Christ.

How are you using your creative abilities to help advance the Gospel?

 

 

Wrestling with Show v. Tell

We love stories. Sit in any critique group for longer than 10 minutes and you’ll hear the phrase “Show, Don’t Tell.”  While it is true that all stories mix and balance showing and telling, the best yarns that keep us turning the page show characters acting, feeling, and responding. It’s not that you never tell. Sometimes, writers have to tell us that Jack climbed up the hill.

Telling has a place in storytelling. As readers, we don’t need to be told every tiny detail, particularly when it involves a mundane activity that doesn’t move the story forward, build tension, or impact the outcome of the story. Good writers use telling to share secondary information. For example, you can write “Jill drove to work.” You don’t want to spend sentences, let alone paragraphs, sharing every detail of Jill’s drive to work. That would be less gripping than watching outdoor paint dry on a rainy day. Save your details for revealing significant plot twists or scene descriptions. When you need to be clear and precise, tell.

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Showing builds intimacy between the reader and your characters. It helps us get in their head and peak inside their soul. Showing reveals a piece of your character’s heart. Showing builds tension and makes your reader curious to find out more. Done right, you’ll have your reader salivating like Pavlov’s dog.

A brief example of showing:

Mom sobbed as I stood at the edge of my father’s hospital bed. “Dad, do you know who I am?”

The man who I’d once considered invincible shot me a blank stare. “No. Who are you?” He glanced over at my mom, kneeling at his bedside. “Who is he?”

Deafening silence filled the room. I could hear my heart thump. In that moment, I realized that the anger I thought I’d let go still raged deep inside me. We had our share of disagreements, the old man and me. Now, I was the only one able to keep score.

“Dad, it’s me. Your son.”

Nothing but a glazed stare returned my plea.

Mom rose from the floor, pressed her hand on my shoulder, “He’ll remember you. You’ll see. He’ll get better. You can’t keep a good man down.”

My eyes welled up, my hands balled up in fists. Good man?  The man who’d once been my hero quit being a good man years ago.

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Good writing leans in favor of showing, sparing the telling for those things that can only be told. A great sentence doesn’t come easy. Writing riveting paragraphs demands effort. We only get better at writing by sitting down and hammering out words on our laptop’s keyboard. There are no shortcuts to becoming a good writer. What are you waiting for?

Get writing!