I’m often asked about the inspirations for my writing, and if I view writing as part of my ministry.
I’ll tackle the inspiration question first.
Essentially, four things inspire me to write:
Those who keep up with this blog and my quarterly personal update (and who know me personally) are aware that I spend a great deal of time on the ground working with organic church communities.
So a large part of my ministry is spent sitting in living rooms with God’s people in intimate settings, sharing Jesus Christ with them, observing the members share the riches of Christ together, making discoveries, serving, aiding, navigating through problems, learning, and receiving their portion of the Lord.
This is a major inspiration for my writing. I don’t consider myself to be a theologian, scholar, philosopher, or poet. I’m much closer to a watchful biologist who observes and then writes about what he’s discovered about this organism called the ekklesia as she encounters and expresses her Lord in uncommon and creative ways.
In short, I cannot separate my writing from my work in the trenches with God’s people, for the two are deeply connected.
Yes, I’m inspired by music. Especially creative bands and artists from the past who mastered their trades. For me, an album shares a lot in common with a book. The process of putting a book together is very much the same as well.
In my opinion, the greatest writers are never mentioned in mainstream Christian magazines and high-traffic Christian blogs (most aren’t living and the living are not known at all, virtually). Those who read this blog are aware of who I regard as the “greatest writers.” They are always an inspiration to me.
A Present Need
Oftentimes, the Lord will make me aware of a specific need in the body, and put a burden on my heart to address it. For me, this awareness comes in various ways. One often happens in the morning during my time with the Lord. The other way is in dialogue with another believer regarding a shared burden we have.
Last night, for instance, Milt Rodriguez and I shared a meal together (Thai if you were wondering 🙂 ). As we fellowshipped, the idea suddenly emerged of co-writing an article about the stages that takes place in a person’s life when they leave the institutional church.
Those stages are essentially the same for most of the people who take the plunge, but they all don’t end up in the same place. So a message was born at the dinner table – one that we feel will help many people to better navigate this unfamiliar terrain.
Leonard Sweet & I shared a burden about the supremacy of Christ, and a co-written project was born out of it.
Is Writing Part of My Ministry?
I’m often asked the question why I don’t charge for most of my work. So I’ll answer that here.
Most of my writings and spoken ministry are free of charge (to date, over 700 free articles and over 90 free podcast episodes are available to anyone). In addition, I’ve given away hundreds of thousands of copies of my books over the years. And presently, two of them are free of charge in digital form.
I’ve chosen to go with publishers for *some* of my written work only because far, far more people will hear about and read a published book than they will free eBooks or online articles.
Don’t ask me why that is, it just is (as professional athletes like to say, “It is what it is.”) Hence, going with a publisher effectively gets the message out to a much broader audience. Unfortunately, it costs money to publish a book; therefore, publishers must charge for them.
While I have no problem with authors who profit from their books personally (most Christian authors do) and neither do I have a problem with authors who demand honorariums when they speak (this is very different from clergy salaries, by the way), I myself have chosen not to make money a determining factor in my ministry.
Royalties from my books goes to help the poor – a key ministry of mine – and to ministry expenses.
I haven’t received a penny from most of the places I’ve spoken in, including large conferences. And when I work with a church, I do not charge a nickel. I’ve chosen the way of Paul of Tarsus in this regard (see 1 Cor. 9).
Anyways: that’s my answer to the question in a nutshell.