Monday, August 9, 2010

Thinking out loud about an epistle...

Yesterday my Sunday morning class started a short five-week look at the book of Philippians. I used the word "look" rather than "study" because there's no way we'll have time to get in very deep. But this way, reading and discussing one chapter per week, is going to be a refreshing exercise, getting Paul's encouraging ideas in big chunks rather than isolating a verse at a time.

I got to wondering what kind of a letter someone like Paul might write to the church I attend. But then I realized we get a pretty good look at that from the pastors' letters, twice a month in the church newsletter. Both Tim and Rebekah do a great job of engaging members and friends alike, keeping the conversation about faith and church life active and personal.

So I'm thinking instead about how I might write specifically to my constituency - the people who I have a stake in as regards an ongoing spiritual life. This daily blog is more free-form; it's "A Life Examined" and tends to play out somewhat introspectively. I'm supposed to be taking a look at my life, writing about what emerges. Then those of you who read simply look over my shoulder as it were, watching my personal devotions play out in cyber-space.

But what if I were writing in a different way? My newspaper Op-Ed column was more like that - but unfortunately the Tribune dropped that part of my work 18 months ago...

Now it's essentially the same idea when I write for FOCUS Magazine, and the Presbyterian Outlook. But those are different audiences. FOCUS is local, and not limited to Christians. Then the Outlook is national; read mostly by church leaders.

If I were to write any kind of regular "epistle" then, it would have to target three particular constituencies.
  • The first would be the small-groups I lead at church; that's my Men's Room, my Sunday Morning class, and POGs (the Sunday-evening small group with young-adult children). All told around 50 people.
  • Then the second constituency would have to be people who read my books and people who have listened to me speak. This is difficult to pin down. Best guess (as of this summer) is around 20,000 copies sold - but no telling how many have been passed on and re-read by others? I know I've spoken, all told, to several thousand people in ten states... but did any of them listen? And have more than a handful read any of my books?
  • The third designation is more slippery still! I'm talking about The Internet. I know tens of thousands of subscribers read my contributions to AllProDad's "Play of the Day." I have work that pops up once in a while on the "Guideposts" website. Who knows how many people log on to my Chicken-Soup for the Soul contributions? Do only Methodists read my columns on e-review?
Bottom line here is that I'm feeling the call to write a regular letter "to" all these people. But I'm not sure about the venue. I don't want to disrupt what I have going on here (it's too useful for me, if nothing else...) but I could possibly park such a project on another blog...?

So what I'm considering is this - a once a week (or so) letter on the "Part-Time-Christian" blog, the blog that was built to support "The Unmaking of a Part-Time Christian".

Anyway, just thinking out loud. Sorry if I bored anyone!

1 comment:

SF said...

I would be in the 2nd constituency---the people who have read your books and taken an online class with you. Your blogs---your musings about how God is using you in your daily life--- have continued to speak to me. I am encouraged and strengthened by your writings, but do not often leave a comment. So, please continue writing. I will be praying with you about what venue...