10 September 2014

The Writing Pastor: a year's worth or words.

As an experiment last year I put all of my pastoral writings in a three ring binder. I included sermons (and sermon outlines when I didn't preach from a script), morning prayers (when I wrote them and did not offer them extemporaneously), welcomes (when I remembered to write them), benedictions (I've almost crafted "my" benediction), letters to the editor (3 last year), articles submitted for publication (2, 1 was accepted), wedding homilies, funeral homilies, & opening remarks before a concert. 

Here is a year's worth of pastoral writing:

Yes, that is a 7 year old macbook.  Yes, that is a portion of a sermon on the left mentioning Gustavo Gutierrez.  And yes, I write out most of my sermons in long hand first.

For the 2014-15 preaching year (which I view as late August to late June) I am keeping track of sermons, prayers, welcomes, benedictions, weekly emails, monthly newsletter articles, article submissions for publication, newspaper submissions, lectures (i am hopefully teaching a course in the Spring), letters to preschool parents, & etc.

Why am I doing this?

One, pastors are writers.

Two, so I can review my thoughts, sentences, and ideas.  Mary Nilsen shared with me the wisdom of this review process.  Also, it is easy for me to repeat myself.  But then again it is easy for folk not to know I am repeating myself.  Rule #304 for pastors: Do not fool yourself into thinking parishioners are always listening.  They do listen, but not all the time. 

Three, I have realized that many seeds for articles emerge from my sermons.  I like the Ralph Waldo Emerson example.  First, there are the ideas in my journal.  Second, these ideas, sometimes, come to life in a sermon.  Third, I take the initial ideas and research to expand (or contract) them into a fuller article, chapter, or essay.

Lastly, I can see what God is up to with me.

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