“Multiply your ministry! Learn to write!” Dr. Bruce Shelley raised both arms in the air, fists clenched like a champion as he pleaded with us to communicate the truths of scripture and the delights of the Christian life with grace, clarity and conviction.
“You’ll never get the chance to speak to as many people as you can reach with the written word!” Back then, in the pre-blogging days of the turn of the century none of us could have imagined how right he was.
But as I sat in class at Denver Seminary, I was only dreaming of writing well enough to impress my profs. After all, it had been more than a decade since college and even there, writing papers made me chew my nails.
As a freshman in an upper-class literature course, I imagined I was quite something! And then we got our first papers back. Dr. Timmerman, usually so gentle and reserved, had let loose on my precious words. The proverbial red ink spilled everywhere. And scrawled across the front he had written, “Cadillac ideas in a Model T frame. Learn to write!”
Well, I hope that the rest of my years at Calvin as an English major and then my long stretch as a seminary student have done their duty in teaching me to press words into meaningful form.
You’d better hope so too! Because. . . unless the Network Support Team is thinking about reneging on their crazy idea now that they know the truth about me . . . I am your new Guide for the Worship network for the coming year.
That means writing. A lot. And my nails are coming off quickly!
Here we are in the middle of 2011, living proof of Dr. Shelley’s predictions. In addition to the articles, books and other published writings that we had in mind, we now flood the internet with words. Emails, postings, blogs, websites of our own articles . . . . Anyone with the capacity to type—it helps to have an opinion!—is now a writer.
Let me be straight. I believe that all these words have a huge potential for good. (Don’t get me started on theology already . . . but it’s just my hopelessly Pollyanna way of saying “God is good—all the time!”) And I hope that in the coming year, you and I (and several hundred of our closest friends) will add to all the good that has already been written about worship of the triune God.
What bothers me about the recent surge in all this electronic writing is the infectious pretension and self-promoting vanity that seems to pervade the internet. Dr. Shelley would weep if he were still alive to read it. Couple that temptation with the tender topic of worship—and the myriad of opinions accompanying that subject—and we’ve got a recipe for disaster.
But, I’ve already confessed. I’m a woman of hope . . . call me naïve, call me Pollyanna, --most people call me ‘Joy.’ And I’m willing to try to pack enough joy and grace and humility for this journey with you into the dangers and blessings of writing about worship.
I hope you’ll offer me some grace too as together we test Dr. Shelley’s theory that we can make a difference in the kingdom by what we write and by the way we write it.
Soli Deo Gloria.