Why Should We Care About Writing?
Most of our days are full of reading and writing emails, social media posts, and text messages, but when's the last time you thought of writing as a way to make disciples? In seminary, I took a course on personal evangelism. In one lecture, my professor explained Paul’s method of discipleship: preaching and evangelism, church planting, and writing letters. As I’ve reflected on this, I’ve come to recognize that the Bible and church history present writing as an important ministry tool, and I think it’s time for the local church to reclaim this tool for the sake of the gospel.
Writing is a Gift
Writing is a common grace gift from God that is rooted in His own goodness and self-revealing character. The Bible portrays God as an author who graciously reveals Himself to us. Moses recorded how the tablets of the Law were “the work of God, and the writing was the writing of God, engraved on the tablets” (Ex. 32:16), and Paul taught Timothy that the “sacred writings” of Scripture were “breathed out by God" (2 Tim. 3:16). But He not only reveals Himself through writing, he shepherds us too. As our perfect shepherd-king, He knows how forgetful we are. To help us and shape us, he instructed his people to write down his works so they would remember how good He is. Whether it was His redemptive works in the Old Testament or the redemptive work of Christ in the New Testament, God’s people have always written about God’s kindness so that God’s people would worship Him. Writing is only possible because God has created us as image-bearers who can communicate. Even after humanity sinned and experienced the curse of the Fall and the confusion of languages after Babel (Gen. 11:7-8), God still allowed us to communicate with one another by preserving the gift of common languages within people groups. Because of this, we can speak with each other, be understood, and write things down, so that we don’t have to experience the not-goodness of being alone (Gen. 2:18). God, in incredible mercy, has given us the gift of writing and when we write we reflect the image of our God who is the author of life, salvation, and the Scriptures.
Hopefully, you see that writing is a gift, but why should the local church care about developing writers in a world dominated by images? Why should we bother to equip and empower a generation of writers when we can simply buy curriculum from professionals? I want to point out three simple ways that writing in the local church can help us fulfill the Great Commission.
Writing Influences People
First, writing influences people. Whether it’s a tweet, love letter, or a book, writing has always been a tool of influence. The New Testament was written when Greek was the common language of the Roman Empire, and God used letter writing in the common language of the people to spread the message of Jesus and root the church in His gospel. Later, in the 1500s, the Lord in His sovereignty used the printing press to print books and pamphlets that redeclared the principles of the gospel. This led to the Reformation, where the gospel was reclaimed, and it spread like wildfire throughout Europe. If you've ever read an English Bible, you're benefitting from the work of people who cared about writing and wanted to influence people with the gospel of Jesus Christ. Writing has always influenced people.
Since writing influences people, we should be eager to develop writers for the sake of the gospel. Imagine what the Lord could do if our church members were equipped to communicate gospel truths with beautiful words? How might we influence the lost who wander in darkness with wrong views of God? How might we encourage brothers and sisters in Christ to rest in the finished work of our King? How might we use our words to spur one another on toward love and good works? Rather than wasting our time scrolling, what if we invested our time scribbling for the sake of the gospel? Because the mission is not yet finished, we must develop writers.
Writing Disciples People
Second, writing is a time-tested method of discipleship. Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John wrote about the life of Christ to evangelize the lost and encourage the church. Through their writing, they discipled people, and they continue to disciple people as their writing is preached and applied around the world. When Paul hears news about the churches he’s planted, what does he do? He writes letters. When Paul couldn’t be present, he used writing to disciple people, as shown in deeply personal letters to the Galatians, Timothy, and Titus. The Bible and church history are littered with examples of Christian men and women who wrote for the sake of ministry, worship, and discipleship. This method is still being used for the good of God’s people and the glory of God, so why shouldn't we engage in it?
Today, most of us consume writing by purchasing books. But imagine if we could equip people to write our own content, addressing the unique needs and opportunities in our local church body? It’s never wrong to use curriculum, read a book, or learn from resources. In fact, great writers are often great readers. However, by nature, published resources have to be generalized to some degree to sell. No author is going to be able to capture the needs of The Trails Church like we can. So, what if we wrote articles and resources to help one another grow in Christ? What if we reflected hard on the gospel and how it relates to daily life, and then we thought intentionally about how to disciple one another. Then, what if we got on our keyboards or picked up our pens and wrote, not for blog-fodder, but to bless one another and build up the body? Our church has an opportunity to disciple and minister to one another by writing unique resources that speak to the unique struggles, burdens, and fears of North Texan hearts. Let us not miss out on these opportunities. Let us write to make disciples.
Writing Guides People
Lastly, writing produces clarity because it requires deep thinking and reflection. Since clarity on the gospel creates maturity in the gospel, we should always seek to develop as thinkers, and writing can help us become better thinkers for ourselves and others. As we study the Bible, reflect theologically, and identify clear and beautiful ways to share the truth of God’s Word, we can help each other think through the implications of the gospel to daily life. This type of theological reflection can only do our souls good. This type of theological reflection can only help the church navigate how to honor Christ in a complex world. When careful biblical study, thoughtful theological reflection, and pastoral communication are combined, clarity and guidance for the church are inevitable.
Writing is like trying to create a walking path through a forest. You want to help people navigate the terrain, so you cut down some trees, get a shovel out, and start to make a path. This process requires work, effort, and more work, much like writing. But in the end, the cumulative effect allows people to navigate through the woods. Conversely, we live under the counsel of a social-media age that has forgotten how to think and reflect. We're flooded with initial reactions and opinions that rarely mark the type of thoughtful, prayerful, and theological reflection that is necessary for navigating life with Christ. It's like walking through a forest with a blindfold on; you're destined to run into frustration.
Today, most people go to Google for answers, but shouldn’t we run to the local church? If the church is the pillar and buttress of the truth (1 Tim. 3:15), then shouldn’t we be the ones to explain how the rich mysteries of Christ relate to all matters of daily life? Clarity comes through prayerful reflection on the word of God, and writing is a means of helping communicate this clarity to others. Imagine if you and I were able to serve as ambassadors of Christ with our writing, and through our content, we helped others see the greatness of Jesus? Thinking and writing about how King Jesus changes everything will help us connect our doctrine and devotion and help others see the supreme beauty of Christ. Isn’t that a win-win worth pursuing?
Will you join us?
So, will you use any capacity you have for writing for the good of our local church, the advancement of the gospel in our community, and for the glory of God? If so, join us for WRITE this Fall. Through this program, we hope to develop an army of writers for the sake of the gospel. We hope to equip you to write curriculum, devotional resources, articles for non-Christians, and much more. At the beginning of 2021, Boswell quoted the missionary William Carey who said, "Expect great things from God. Attempt great things for God." WRITE is an attempt to do the great work of mobilizing people to fulfill the Great Commission. Will you join us for this work? If so, you can register for WRITE by clicking here or email Josh Stewart at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions.