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Could God use you in a writing ministry? Perhaps the idea of writing for Him has crossed your mind a time or two, but you’re not quite sure where to begin. This essay will help point you in the right direction.
Starting out. The most difficult part of writing is often knowing what to write about. Some of the best advice I ever received as a new writer was, “write what you know.” That counsel has helped me generate and publish nearly one hundred and fifty articles in Christian magazines across the country.
What do you know? You might start with your testimony, sharing with readers why you committed your life to Jesus Christ. When your testimony is published, thousands of people will have an opportunity to “read all about it.” Perhaps one of those readers will say to herself, “If God could forgive that lady after all she did, surely He can also forgive me.”
Your testimony is not the only thing you can share with others. Think how your life is full of experiences through which God has taught you more about Himself. Have you struggled with a difficult situation and found His strength to endure? Others need to hear about it. Why? Because not everyone who prays for work finds that job they’ve prayed for. Loved ones die no matter how many churches beseech God for healing. Families divide regardless of the prayers lifted to God’s throne for reconciliation. Christians from all walks of life suffer almost unbearable heartache, but do so with Christ’s ever present help in their time of trouble. And His presence makes all the difference in the world to them. If you are one of those who have been so “encouraged” then God can use you to encourage others. The apostle Paul understood the benefit such suffering and subsequent sharing can be for the Body of Christ when he wrote: Blessed be God… who comforts us in all our affliction so that we may be able to comfort them who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted of God (2 Corinthians 1:3).
Or perhaps you could re-tell the story of some great missionary or evangelist of earlier centuries and slant it toward young readers. Do you have a gift to weave tales? Try your hand at Christian fiction. The things about which a person can write are limited only by his imagination.
Study the Market. By reading examples of what publishers want, you will learn how to form ideas into articles acceptable to editors. When you study the magazines, take note of the types of articles they usually print. Are they personal experiences? How-to’s? Humor? Devotions? How are their testimonies handled? If you don’t have access to a particular magazine for which you would like to submit an article, write the editor requesting a recent issue or two. Resources such as The Christian Writers’ Market Guide (check your public library, or order a copy from online booksellers) lists addresses and requirements to receive back issues.
Join a Workshop. Join an on-line writer’s workshop where you can submit your work for free critique by other members of the group. I belonged to this one for several years and highly recommend it: http://www.internetwritingworkshop.org/. You can also conduct your own internet search for online writers’ workshops and find many others.
Expect Rejection. Rejection comes with the territory. Rejections do not necessarily mean your article is trash. Sometimes there’s just no telling why one editor will reject a perfectly good manuscript, and another will pay you for permission to publish it without any changes. So when your form-letter rejection slip arrives in the mail, review the manuscript and make whatever changes you think may be necessary. Then send it out to another magazine.
Be organized. Keep good records, especially noting who you sent what and when you sent it. This is important not only so you don’t send the same manuscript to two different editors without realizing it, but if you are successful in your ministry, you will need accurate records of expenses and sales when you prepare for the April 15 deadline each year.
Writing for the Lord can be a very fruitful ministry and mission. For example, some magazines have circulations of 10,000 to more than 100,000 readers. Think how many people could be encouraged in their faith, or how many non-believers might re-think their rebellion and turn to Christ after reading your article.
So put your thoughts down on paper, polish what you’ve written, re-read it and polish some more and then submit it to a magazine editor. And may God bless your ministry for Him.
Rich Maffeo Bio: I was born into a Jewish home in 1950. Twenty-two years later, I discovered Jesus is the Jewish Messiah, and I served Him in evangelical Protestant churches for more than thirty-two years. During those years I read the Bible dozens of times. In 2005 I was received into the Catholic Church after reading the Scriptures which better defined for me Catholic faith and teaching.