Pastors Should Be Writers
By Robert (Bob) W. Jones
What Are You Waiting For?
Pastor—you have a lot of good things to share. Important things.
Things like life giving principles, precepts, truths and of course humorous stories.
People need to hear what God has laid on a pastor’s heart.
Pastor, if you’ve settled for simply speaking and not writing then its time for a change.
Leveraging Your Influence
Writing will leverage your influence.
How large is your present audience?
You could increase your audience by a factor of 10 or maybe even 100 through writing.
Write, message, tweet, blog, print, publish—whichever is your initial course of action— take it.
Take it now.
You’ll kick yourself that you waited so long.
Don’t think you can write?
If you can speak you can write.
I’m not sure the flow goes the other way as easily but it does for speakers turned writers.
That’s my story.
My Writing Journey
I used to write when I first got into ministry.
In 1980 I wrote for our local paper in Essex, Ontario. I submitted articles to the Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada’s national magazine—“The Testimony”—and they were all published. I was published in youth magazines.
Then, for some forgotten reason, I stopped writing in the mid’80’s.
In the 90’s I got inspired and started compiling material for a book. The title was in place—Believe Well, Live Well—and I was storing material from messages and research on my computer.
In the late 90’s my computer was upgraded. Information was to be saved on a server for the transition. When my new computer was handed over to me with the stored files in place, the material for the book along with a few other files were AWOL. The old hard drive had been wiped clean. The information was gone. I felt like I had the air knocked out of me.
Between 1999 and 2011, I was totally focused on relocating our facility and ministry from the city core to an undeveloped suburb. Writing never crossed my mind.
In 2011 I was encouraged to start a blog for our church. I wrote my first post on October 1, 2011. For about a year I posted every week. I usually rehashed the hi-lites of my weekend message. Sometimes I wrote about something in the news.
In 2012 I decided to try out Twitter and Linkedin as additional outlets for influence.
A breakthrough happened in September 2013 when I devoured Michael Hyatt’s book, Platform: Get Noticed In A Busy World. The title was genius because it scratched my itch. I began to use some of his strategies for exposure.
I started developing our email list and within a few months it was over 1,000 subscribers. Over a two-month period 20,000 people visited our blogsite.
It was then I realized how much opportunity for influence I had missed. People from around the world were checking out the blogsite and signing up for the newsletter.
Up until then, for me to influence someone in Thailand, I had to travel there. Now people could read my thoughts from the comfort of their home 1,000’s of miles away.
The Power Of Story
After two years of weekly publishing I found my niche. Readership spiked each time I shared a story of people from our church family. People shared the story on their Facebook page and linked the post on Twitter. So I’ve posted a story at least four times a month.
Guest posts from leaders in our congregation on science, family, faith, business, sports and politics have garnered increased interest for the blog.
Posts on mental health and health challenges in general have resonated with people.
Since starting the blog some of the posts have been republished in magazines like “The Testimony,” “Sage” and our local newspaper, “The Edmonton Journal.”
My First Book
In 2014 I started a group for aspiring writers in our church and community. There are now 14 writers in the group. Three of us have published a book and one participant retired from a 30 year career in business to write fulltime.
In 2015 my first book was published through Word Alive. Ornament was a labor of love—the story of the faith, joy and hope of a young mom who fought a battle with cancer.
I received wonderful support from Word Alive Press in the process through Jeremy Braun, Jen Jandavs-Hedlin and Amy Groening. Their professional advice regarding design, layout and marketing was spot on.
We sold 2,600 hardcover copies as well as some eBooks versions. While I’m happy with the number of copies of sold, it was the size of the impact this compact book had on readers that was most rewarding.
People purchased multiple copies to give away. One woman bought 55 copies for her circle of influence. An Alpha leader gave it to every person in their group. People made decisions to become followers of Jesus due to the book. Readers were comforted, inspired and strengthened in facing their own challenges.
The appreciative feedback I received through email, Facebook and personal conversations convinced me that the effort of writing and publishing was well worth it.
I am now writing monthly for the St Albert Gazette, InScribe Writers, and Word Alive. My goals in 2016 are to be published in at least one major Christian magazine and one national Canadian newspaper and to be well underway with my next book.
Our church family has 3,000 people associated with it. That’s fairly large for Canadian congregations. I envision being able to influence 100,000 people this year through my writing outlets.
If I can do it…so can you.
What are you waiting for?
Please leave a comment below.
I write to inspire people to be real, grow an authentic faith in Jesus, enjoy healthy relationships and discover their life purpose. If this material is helpful to you, please follow me.
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About this Contributor:
Robert (Bob) W. Jones is a recovering perfectionist, who collects Coca-Cola memorabilia and drinks Iced Tea. His office walls are adorned with his sons’ framed football jerseys, and his library shelves, with soul food. He has served as a pastor for 36 years and has enjoyed the past 26 years in leadership at North Pointe Community Church in Edmonton, Alberta.