After twenty-five years of pastoral ministry, I sensed a new wind of the Spirit blowing in my life, leading me to invest more deeply in my writing and speaking beyond the local congregation. I still loved the church and still loved pastoral ministry, but I also knew from the movement of the Spirit that it was time for me to move on.
Yet I knew that my husband and I would still need a Christian community around us. My writing had always been grounded in the church and for the church—both my local congregation and the church at large. I was grateful for the opportunity to test ideas in sermons and in small groups, to know that church members were praying for my ministry both within and beyond our congregation.
So when the time came for “our” church to become “our former” church, I’m grateful that we found a new church home. Instead of pastoring full-time, I now serve as resident author for a smaller congregation where I preach just once a month, plus another two or three times a month for other churches and in other settings. I continue to write for both online and in print publications. And I continue to be grateful for a church community that responds to sermons and prays for me, and so helps shape my writing and speaking ministry.
At the same time, I realize that my community is bigger than my local congregation. As a writer, I’ve heard over and over again that I need to know my readers, to write directly to them, to go where my readers are on social media. That standard advice to connect with readers has been invaluable to me over the years. I love the readers who leave comments and likes, who send emails, who share the blog posts and books I’ve written with others. And I love the quiet ones too, who I may never hear from directly, but who read and ponder and think deep thoughts of their own. As I write, I think of them—I think of you!—as part of my community too.
Lately I’ve also been thinking about how much I value having a community of writers. Writing can be a lonely occupation, with hours spent alone each day with pen and paper or in front of a computer screen, not knowing whether anyone will ever read or hear or appreciate the thoughts I struggle to put into words. But somehow knowing that other writers share this same journey encourages me.
For the rest of The Gift of Community, please see the Godspace blog where I’m a regular contributor as part of the Godspace Writers Community.
Writing/Reflection Prompt: What role does community play in your life?
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