My first grade son is learning how to do
Shared by: loe13858
Write On: Transforming Your Ministry through Writing Submitted by Carlton W. Hughes Professor, Communication, Southeast Kentucky Community and Technical College, Cumberland, KY Children’s Pastor, Lynch Church of God, Lynch, KY My first grade son is learning how to do it. My third grade son is doing more of the long-form type this year. Many of the students at the college where I work loathe it, putting off the class that bears its name to their last semester. God has used it to transform my service to my church. What is “it?” Writing! “Writing?” you might ask incredulously, but it is true. When I began my Christian walk nearly seven years ago, I never expected that God would “stir up” a talent that I had spent a lifetime developing. From the time I was a young, “only” child with an overactive imagination to the year I was a graduate school student with research paper after research paper to write, God was planting seeds. During my career as a college professor, I have sponsored student newspapers, directed plays, served as a weekly columnist for a local paper, and graded too many writing papers to count. At the time much of it seemed painful, but God had a plan. Along the way I have learned that you have to let God stir up your gifts. We all have God- given gifts and talents, but we have to allow God to have his way with them. Writing had always come easy to me, and I had done a lot of it, but I had to surrender that talent to God so He could use it for His glory. It all started early in my Christian walk when I “inherited” the annual church Christmas play. For a couple of years, we relied on play books and other outside material for our play. One year the Lord inspired me to write my own. That first play, The Story’s So Familiar, was based on my experiences as an assistant youth Sunday School teacher and starred my students. After that first effort, I have continued to write the church play each year. About three years ago God moved me into the position of children’s pastor at our church, and my plays have been geared toward the children ever since. I depend on the Lord for inspiration for the plays, but I continually find myself using snippets of dialogue that I’ve picked up through my church work. For example, one night we were discussing Bible verses with members of the youth group, and one young lady said that she knew the shortest verse in the Bible. “Jesus swept,” she said. We had a good laugh and agreed that, since He was a carpenter’s Son, Jesus had probably done some sweeping in His time. That exchange made it into one of my plays. It may seem like a cliche, but it is good to write what you know. Let God use your experiences both in and out of the church to enhance your writing. Dialogue that sounds authentic will give your audience a real connection to the material. Collect those “gems” of dialogue in your mind (or in a notebook) and then fit them into your script. The young lady mentioned above was so excited when she heard her line in the play. “That was from me!” she exclaimed proudly. My other writing assignment for the church has been more ambitious–for the past three years I have developed the theme and written the curriculum for our annual Vacation Bible School, another event I “inherited.” When my wife and I took over as VBS Directors, we had only six weeks to organize the whole thing. We shopped around and chose a VBS kit at a popular Christian bookstore chain. We were very excited about our theme until I went to the local post office one morning and saw a gigantic poster featuring our VBS theme–for an event at another church, the week before ours was scheduled. We discovered that there were only so many VBS themes to go around, and, in our small community, there was a lot of duplication. Our VBS was usually held toward the end of the summer, so, by the time local children came to our program, they were bored. It’s hard to keep the material fresh and interesting when your audience has already heard it at least once. Again, the Lord led me to develop and write an original VBS. That first one, Jesus is the Real Reason: Christmas in July, went over well, so we have continued to “do it ourselves” for four years now. Our children get especially excited that they’re getting something totally original at their Bible School. People have asked me why I choose to do my own theme rather than purchase a prefab kit, and my answer is simple: I enjoy the challenge of creating something different. It stretches me to develop a vision and then see it through to the end, but I end up closer to God in the process. The change not only challenges me as a writer but also energizes the rest of our volunteers, who get to choose their own crafts, snacks, games, etc. that fit the theme. God will use your gift to fill a need in your church. Our church needed someone to direct Vacation Bible School, so my wife and I stepped up to the plate. Our church needed a unique vision for the program, so I allowed God to lead me into some unknown territory. Indeed, writing your own material may seem scary, but, if God calls you, He will equip you. As mentioned before, long before I wrote my first play, I had tackled numerous writing assignments throughout college and my professional career. With the VBS work, I relied on my teaching experiences as well as the wealth of reproducible activity books and the variety of children’s music on the market to flesh out my ideas. Whatever your God-given talent may be–writing, teaching, singing, landscaping, cleaning, working with children–allow God to tap into it to transform your service to Him. You might be surprised by the results.