Saturday, February 26, 2011

Writing for Your Church--It's a Ministry!

Does your church have an Operations Manual? Do different ministry departments have Handbooks?

I only recently realized how rare documentation is among churches of all denominations. In trying to find examples of church documentation online, I found few. My guess is that for the average church staff member, the task of putting together a Manual can be time-consuming and daunting.

Here's where we come in. Besides the creative writing goals you may have personally (or if you're like me and inspiration-less at the moment), maybe you can serve your church. Here are some ideas.

- Offer to help the pastoral staff compile an Operations Manual for the church.

#2 - Offer to help the different department heads compile Handbooks for their teams.

#3 - Offer to help the pastoral staff with any other documents they may need - HR forms, a Staff Handbook, etc.

#4 - Offer to help create some press releases about church events for your local paper.

All this in addition to any creative projects you write (Easter dramas, Christmas readings, etc.) can stretch your talents, but most importantly, bless the Kingdom.

....What else? What other writing ministries can you think of that could help bless the local church?

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Solving Creative Depression

Whenever I’m creatively drained, but still craving to write, I pull out a book of writer interviews to recharge myself. The best I’ve found is The Paris Review Interviews. They released a new set of 4 books (with an elegant slipcase) a couple years back, but there are numerous inexpensive volumes available from previous years (and free on their web site).

What sets the Paris Review apart from competitors is: 1) they invented the long-form author interview in 1953; 2) most often, they interview the author numerous times over several months or years, so that it takes in a wider expanse of wisdom. The best interviews also capture the idiosyncracies of personality (as in when Turkey’s

Orham Pamuk declares he must write away from his living space because domestic rituals kill the imagination), as well as writing habits and insights. Plus, you're exposed to novelists you've never heard of, but suddenly seem interesting.

Here are a few insights from my recent readings:

“I like details very much. Tolstoy wanted to write the total description; my description is focused on a very small area. When you describe the details of small things, your focus gets closer and closer, and the opposite of Tolstoy happens—it gets more unrealistic. That’s what I want to do.” –Japanese novelist Haruki Murakami

“In the development of every character there’s a kind of emotional entanglement that occurs. The characters that interest me are the ones that seem to pose questions in my own thinking. The minute that you start thinking about someone in the whole circumstance of his life to the extent that you can, he becomes mysterious, immediately.”America's best living novelist Marilynne Robinson

“When I’m writing a book that takes years to complete, I emerge from the last page totally different from who I was on page one. I learn constantly from my books. This is why it takes me so many years to write a novel, because I do not really understand what I write and why I write it. Only later do I understand what it wants to tell me. I’m not trying to mystify it—in a practical way, I think it is only through writing that I allow myself to experience things I would not be courageous enough for in real life.” – Israeli novelist David Grossman

There are so many more quotes I could share as my books are inundated with yellow highlighting. Don't accept creative frustration when there are numerous inexpensive fountains of creative rebirth so readily available.