The Bible --Part 19

The Bible
Part 19

James Gunn

Thy Words were found and I did eat them; and Thy Word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of mine heart. Jeremiah 15:16

Contemporary Oral And Written Ministry

Written Ministry

There are three important phases in regard to written ministry which should be mentioned: the appraising of current Christian literature; the writing of articles, tracts, pamphlets, and books; the preparing of manuscripts for publication.

The appraising of current literature: Literature should not be distributed until it has been appraised. Furthermore, only literature that will be read should be bought for distribution, for literature is costly. While we cannot force a person to read, we may induce him.

All literature for free distribution should be examined, first, for its content. We should be sure that it is biblical in fact and spiritual in tone. Second, it should be examined in regard to relevancy. What was important and relevant a hundred years ago may not be so now. Stories and illustrations of obvious age and foreign background are not nearly as acceptable as those from modern life and local settings.

Third, written material should be examined for interest. Articles written in the first person are as objectionable as a conversation in which a person speaks much of himself. Such statements as “I think,” “I have observed,” “I do,” etc. separate the reader from the writer. The plural pronoun should be used for it involves the reader. Occasionally, the third person may be used for reader interest may be further aroused by direct address.

Fourth, articles should be examined for readability. Long paragraphs reduce readability as do long sentences and long words. Long, little understood and archaic words greatly reduce the possibility of an article being read. Readability is maintained by the use of current language, sentences of normal length intercepted by short pithy ones, and short complete paragraphs.

Fifth, the printing should be considered. Sloppy printing, small type, cheap paper, all reduce the possibility of even good sound ministry being read.

Producing written ministry: The remarkable advance of the cults, humanly speaking, has been due to their literature. This might also be said about communism. The Christian Church should pay more attention to the distribution within itself and beyond itself of sound biblio-centered teaching. There is need for tracts, pamphlets and books of various types, and here we enter the field of Christian journalism.

We should understand that different types of writing require different forms of structure. For example, the structural form of biography should be more or less as follows: Begin with the present, what bearing the character has on the present; then write of his past, his birth, boyhood, etc.; follow this with his progressive history, the history that made him what he is; close with some prognosis of his influence in the future. Take another example, a know-how article, as such are called, starts with the idea what. Suppose you would like to write an article on how best to arrange an annual conference; this is the what you are going to write about. Next part of the article corresponds to why. Just why has the writer written about the what. Why arrange an annual conference? They are important because of their contribution to Christian life and testimony, but they are costly. The next part states just how the arrangements are made, a step-by-step description how to carry out the ideas. The next step is when. Should the arrangements be made one or three months in advance of the dates chosen? Finally, you close with an appeal that your suggestions be adopted.

If unexperienced writers would only write as they think and speak instead of attempting to be very learned, their articles would be more acceptable.

A long article repels; it does not attract a reader. An article of 1300 to 1500 words is more likely to be read than one of 2000 words.

Each member of a serial should be complete in itself, although each should be complementary to the others. The chapters of a pamphlet or book should be similar.

Preparing to publish: If you have a message from God to write, if at all possible have it typewritten and double spaced. Use only one side of the paper, and leave on both sides a margin of an inch or an inch and a half in order to provide space for the editor to write in corrections, deletions, etc. Only half of the first page should be used. The top half should be left blank for the editor; on this he writes the instructions to the printer.

It is well to remember that an editor is not only responsible to correct any mistake he may find in spelling, punctuation or syntax, but also to fit articles into the space available. This may require that an article be shortened. A good editor tries to do this without impairing the content. He may do this by deleting repetitious statements, by removing adjectives and adverbs, and at times poetical parts.

An editor usually gives the best space and the most space to articles he considers of vital importance to his reader audience.

Paul exhorted Timothy: “Preach the Word; be instant (diligent) in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine” (2 Timothy 4:2).

In ministry we are to be diligent and urgent in the proclamation of God’s Word even as heralds of the King. There should be no specific place or season for the preaching of the Word, but there should be definite spirit and clarity, all longsuffering and doctrine.

Alford quotes a saying from Chrysostom, an eminent father of the early Church: “If men continue in the same courses even after our exhortation, not even then must we abstain from counselling them. For fountains flow, even if no one draw from them: and rivers run, though no one drinks. So too the preacher ought, even if no one attend him, to fulfill all his own duty; for our rule, who have taken in hand the ministry of the Word, is laid down by God the lover of men, that his part is not to slacken, nor be silent, whether men hear, or pass by.”

May what has been suggested help in the fulfilling of this biblical command.