We are pleased to introduce Daniel Klassen. Daniel recently published How Do We Glorify God? with us, which was shortlisted for our 2020 Braun Book Awards and is currently available through the Word Alive Press Bookstore, and everywhere fine Christian books are sold. We asked Daniel to share a little bit about his writing, and new book. But first, a little bit about him.
Daniel Klassen grew up in a Christian community as a pastor’s kid, but it wasn’t until his late teens that he realized he needed to make the faith his own. Since then, he has passionately explored the Christian faith to help others grow in their faith and cultivate a passion for God.
His passion for exploring and growing in the Christian faith led him to help lead a youth group in his church, involving teaching Bible studies and hanging out with the young people. This opportunity focused his passion on carrying on the Christian faith to the next generation.
Six years ago, Daniel started a blog, called The Christian Explorer, to develop his writing and serve his church and community to help others think through every aspect of the Christian faith. It blossomed into a website featuring other leaders and pastors. From his regular blogging, he published his first book, Thinking Christianity_, in 2019, showcasing the importance of the mind in the Christian faith. He also recently started a podcast called "_Exploring Christianity":https://www.iheart.com/podcast/269-exploring-christianity-79662137/.
Daniel works in construction, and when he’s not working or writing he enjoys reading good books, drinking coffee, and testing his photography skills while exploring nature.
Daniel and his wife Annette live on an acreage overlooking the South Saskatchewan River near the small town of Osler in rural Saskatchewan. They recently welcomed their first daughter, Catherine, into the world.
Q: What inspired you to write this book?
A: It was when I first began to understand the gospel. That was a major “Aha!” moment for me, because it seemed like all the pieces of life fell into place and I began to be transformed by the gospel and see life through a gospel lens. It lit a fire under me, and I wanted others to experience a rightly ordered life—a gospel-centred life.
This experience inspired me to write a book, but I seemed to hit a dead end. I felt too young and inexperienced to speak on biblical applications for practical issues in every aspect of life. So I took a detour by writing my first book, Thinking Christianity, a book which set the doctrinal foundation upon which I could build the gospel’s practical applications.
Some time after I published the book, I picked up A Body of Divinity, a book written in 1692 by a Puritan pastor named Thomas Watson. It was a series of sermons explaining the Westminster Shorter Catechism, and immediately I came face to face with seventeen different ways in which we glorify God practically. I realized that each one could be explained in further detail to benefit Christians today, but it wasn’t until much later that I realized they were the solution to the dead end I had hit when I first started writing a book. That turned out to be the final and major piece of inspiration for me to complete this book.
Q: In a sentence or two, can you tell us what it means to glorify God, and what benefits readers will receive from it?
A: Simply put, glorifying God is to esteem Him, adore Him, and love Him for who He is, and because of that we humbly subject ourselves to Him. That is the foundation for every practical endeavour to glorify Him. If this foundation is set under the reader, they will enjoy Him with an unshakeable joy, cheerful hope, and calm assurance, enjoying God as He is without distraction.
Q: What role did your experience as a youth leader play in writing this book?
A: The group I lead ranges from twelve to fourteen years old, and many of them are in the same shoes I was when I was their age; their experience of the faith is, for the most part, surface level. They have heard the stories of the Bible many times and have been told what they should do, but they haven’t had much exposure to the doctrines of the gospel and what they should believe.
My objective is to help them come to an experience with Christ—to believe in Him—and to do I have to teach them the language and doctrines of the Bible. If they don’t know the language, they won’t experience God in the gospel (Romans 10:17).
So I am always aiming to write with clarity and simplicity, without losing the language of Scripture or the doctrines of the gospel. The nature of How Do We Glorify God? is a great combination of practice, devotion, and doctrine for my experiences of youth.
Teaching the Bible to youth has also caused me to focus on sustainability, and I often find myself asking the question: will my teaching and writing be relevant for Christians one hundred years from now? If not, it will have little to no influence on the youth—or my readers—when it’s their turn to teach the next generation. So my-youth leading experience has created and deepened my desire to express truth for every generation in a relevant way for today.
Q: What message about glorifying God do you hope readers will take away from this book?
A: My hope is for readers to see just how worthy God is and how practical it is to glorify Him. It seems this is a subject many Christians take for granted or have preconceived ideas about.
Maybe the best way to put it is that the topic of glorifying God often hides in plain sight for many Christians. As I studied in-depth for this book, I was amazed at how often I overlooked glorifying God in my own life. There were things I did and believed that glorified God, but I didn’t really think about it in those terms, to my detriment.
There were also things I did and believed that I found did not glorify God. I found this is a subject that helps form us into the image of Christ, regardless of how mature we are in the faith.
Q: Can you describe your writing process?
A: I write when I have the inspiration to write, but I rarely begin writing because I am inspired to write. Inspiration usually comes while I’m writing. Sometimes it’s because I have a deadline to meet. Other times, it’s because everything begins to fall into place as I build on what I have already written. Often it’s because my study expands my vision of the topic I’m writing about.
So if I haven’t written anything, I will begin with introductory ideas and go from there. If I have something written, I lightly edit the last couple paragraphs I wrote to feel out the mood of my writing and continue the argument or story.
Sometimes, because of where the chapter or section of my writing is taking me, I will go back and rewrite the entire introduction or modify other sections to fit with the direction it takes me. If I come to my desk with a good idea about something else, I will first write down that idea separately, then focus on my writing project and incorporate the idea where it works best.
Essentially, my writing process is a journey of ups and downs filled with detours, rests, asking for direction, and returning to the start to try again.
Q: How do you approach editing, revisions, and rewriting?
A: I start my editing process with online editing tools such as Grammarly. After that, I usually print my manuscript double-spaced so I can take a pen to write suggestions for revisions, and I go through the manuscript to simplify my writing.
I also ask others to read through my manuscript, and I choose them based on what I hope they will look for. This will most likely include a pastor for theological and biblical soundness, an avid reader or someone who understands grammar and syntax for structure, and an average reader to point out complex and hard-to-understand passages for me to simplify or explain. Also, taking breaks and reading books with the same target audience between rounds of editing helps me read my own manuscript afresh.
Q: What advice do you have for aspiring writers?
A: Start writing and develop a desire to grow as a writer. It can often be discouraging at the start, when you feel you cannot string a proper sentence together, let alone a book. Start small and grow. So if your goal is to write a book, start with a blog.
The best advice I can give for those who want to grow is the advice I’ve received through the years as a writer.
The first is tried and true and expressed by almost everyone: read and write a lot. There is nothing better for your writing than practicing it while observing and learning from other writers through their books and writing. Find good books and let them be your mentors. And once in a while, read a book on writing, too.
The second piece of advice is to come to terms early with the fact that the essence of writing is rewriting. Don’t paralyze your writing by trying to be perfect on the first draft.
And the last piece of advice is to write to think better. As you begin to think better and more clearly, your writing will improve, which in turn will improve your thinking—it’s like compound interest!
Daniel Klassen is a youth leader at the Bergthaler Mennonite Church in Warman, SK. He is the author of Thinking Christianity, and How Do We Glorify God?, which was shortlisted for our Braun Book Awards. He and his wife, Annette, live near the small town of Osler in rural Saskatchewan. Daniel can be reached via: