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THE POWER OF WRITING IN MINISTERIAL EDUCATION


It seems like everyone in about every area of life is promoting the power of writing today, except in online degree programs for ministerial education. In fact, the trend seems to be just the opposite. Many online bible colleges and seminaries seem to be in a competition of who can require the least amount of writing. This trend not only concerns me, it actually frightens me.


I would like to point to the long history of exceptional ministers in the Body of Christ that were powerful writers. Many of those ministers still speak to us today. Their writing inspires us, challenges us, and even helps us through the most difficult of times. I could also point to the fact that we have the Bible because men of God were moved by the Holy Spirit to write. Where would we be if they shunned writing the way many aspirants of ministry seemed to be doing today?


Writing helps us connect to what we really believe, who we really are, and to the information we need to convey. In Christian counseling and ministerial mentorship, journaling (another form of writing) helps us to discover our strengths, come face-to-face with strongholds, and begin connecting the dots theologically to move to next level thinking in the Kingdom of God.


William J. Farrell, while president of Colorado State University, provided interesting insights into writing in his article “The Power of Writing.[1]” Let’s look at several of his statements:


“What is the most important skill a college president can have? . . . writing skills . . .”

“Whether in business, politics, or the academic world, most corporate decisions involve complex choices. To understand the complexity of a problem, as well as the available solutions, executives and board members must turn to written communications. The written report can present data and a level of analysis that would be difficult to convey in oral form.”


What Dr. Farrell was expressing is that the power of writing allows us to present and analyze important information that otherwise could not be processed properly. This fact is applicable to both those trying to understand the problem and those working to develop a solution. If writing is so important for analysis and problem solving in the business world, how much more powerful is it in the field of ministry?


Over the years, I have discovered two primary camps in ministry: the deep thinkers with great revelation and the shallow thinkers with pat answers (although there are many somewhere in between). I don’t know about you, but when it comes to walking with God and facing the challenges of life, I prefer depth! We think that there is something unique about those that can dig deeply into God’s Word, connect dots that most never realized existed, and discover powerful truths that enlighten and empower God’s people. That uniqueness is not that God has anointed them to think deeply. I actually believe God calls all of us to that task. What makes them unique is that they are avid readers AND WRITERS. These ministers have developed the discipline of taking notes, journaling, jotting down ideas, and then using the writing process to come to a deeper understanding of truth. I have known many of them over the years. For every one article they publish, there are hundreds of journal entries, pages of notes, brainstorming diagrams, etc. They have learned the fine art of thinking on paper.


You may be asking yourself: “Where did they learn to create such depth in their understanding of spiritual things?” That is an easy answer – in bible college and seminary, but not just any bible college or seminary! It was in schools of higher learning that required extensive reading and writing. They had to write for every class, and they had to write when they felt like it and when they didn’t. They had to write when it came directly against a stronghold that resisted the writing. However, they pressed forward, and (in the light of written analysis) the stronghold fell apart. They wrote until they discovered themselves and, in the process, found the depths of who Jesus really is!


My concern is that we are losing the art of writing, thus losing the art of deep spiritual analysis! Life seldom hands you a multiple choice exam. As an educator, I know you need a proper blending of all types of testing instruments to assess the progress of a student. Multiple choice and fill-in-the-blank questions all have their part in getting the student to focus on significant information in each study. Albeit, every true educator knows that the only way to evaluate where the student is emotionally, mentally, spiritually, and academically is through the process of writing. Until a minister can express the truth of God’s Word in writing, they do not possess sufficient depth in it to withstand the tests of life and ministry!


Without ample writing requirements in online ministerial degree programs, we not only shortchange the educational process, we shortchange the development of the minister. In turn, underdeveloped ministers shortchange ministry. These ministers will spend their days in ministry looking for a quick answer to fill in the blank for every problem. Quick sound bites of preformatted theological positions seldom provide comfort or lasting solutions to the Body of Christ! In the end, we could lose the transformational power of true ministry!


Both ministry and life require deep analysis of God’s Word and every challenge that faces us. Writing will always remain an essential tool of the well-prepared minister.


Copyright 2010 by Michael K. Lake, Th.D., D.R.E.


Footnote


[1] Farrell, William J. The Power of Writing. http://wac.colostate.edu/journal/vol3/farrell2.pdf


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About the Author


Michael K. Lake, Th.D., D.R.E.


Dr. Lake is the Chancellor and Founder of Biblical Life College and Seminary.  He is an Internationally respected authority on nontraditional theological education, educator, author, and serves as a Bishop on the International Board of Directors for the Restoration Fellowship International.

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