Writing has always been an effective way of influencing people. Just think about the impact of the letters of the New Testament, or the way people follow blog posts today. In our country, where the church is tragically underfed, there is a massive need for good resources. And writing articles is a good way to help people grow in their understanding of Scripture and have a Scriptural perspective on God, our lives, the church, and the world.
Writing is a discipline which is one of the ways of using the gifts and talents that God has given us. Additionally, we all would have experienced that putting things down in writing forces us to think about them deeply about topics. This is good for writers’ theological development, and can be a blessing to readers. As you consider taking on the task of writing articles, remember that the purpose is to spread Biblical articles with good theology on various topics for people in our Indian churches.
Keep in mind that we are writing and applying truths for real people in the church, not assignments to be graded. This means articles should be:
- Simple. We want people to be able to understand and engage with the ideas we write about. The more straightforward an article is, the more likely it is that people will read through it and retain something of it.
- Readable. The language should be at the level of common people. We want to be more conversational than technical. Think of specific people in your church and think if they will be able to understand what you write. Intentionally choose simpler words and keep sentences short.
- Relatable. We don’t want to write something theoretical which people don’t care about and don’t want to know about. Even if the topic is abstract or theological, make sure to show its relevance to daily life and how it is something which can be applied. For example, a clear understanding of the trinity impacts our daily prayer life (We don’t pray to Father and thank Him for dying on the Cross!).
- Winsome. We do want to challenge bad theology, wrong doctrine, and false teachers. But we want to do this in such a way that even people influenced by them will want to read what we have to say. If we insult and attack them, they will switch off and not take our words seriously. So, let us not be directly confrontational.
- Biblical. Our personal opinions and experiences may be valuable and useful for people to know, but not as much as the Word of God is. Make sure to quote the Bible, refer to the Bible, and show how what you are writing comes from the Bible. If our experiences help make the Bible’s point, that’s a bonus.
Length of the articles: 1-2 Pages.
The aim is not to write long treatises, but blog articles which people can read through and understand in a few minutes. It is often harder to express ideas in fewer words, but this discipline will help to sharpen our thinking and make us precise. If something can’t be said well in a short article, it might be better to write 2 articles instead of 1!
Some practical tips for writing:
- Avoid long sentences. If your sentence has more than 24 words, consider making it smaller or breaking it into multiple sentences.
- Longer sentences have more chances of making mistakes.
- Longer sentences have more chances of being misunderstood even when correct.
- Keep paragraphs short. A huge block of writing can appear daunting to readers, so having short paragraphs helps them to tackle the article with more confidence. But don’t change paragraphs based on length. Make sure to complete your thought as you transition into the next paragraph.
- Help the article flow with transition statements and words. This is especially important when moving from one point to another, but even in general. The article should flow from sentence to sentence. The reader should not think, “Where did that come from?” Even short phrases like “Another point to consider is …” helps readers to know that we are shifting thoughts.
- Make sure that the relative pronoun has a clear antecedent. For example, don’t start a sentence with something like “Humility is what Paul is talking about”. What is the “which”? It would be better to say. “This is what Paul is talking about” or to just say “Humility is what Paul is talking about.”
- Simple structure: Introduction, Body, Conclusion.
- Things to keep in mind for the Introduction
- Introduce the topic “Readers should understand what the article is going to be about by reading the introduction.”
- Relate the topic with readers. Readers should understand that the topic is something which they need to know about. They should want to keep reading.
- Keep it short. The introduction is only the introduction. It needs to lead to the main article and not become the main article. Readers get intimidated by a long introduction.
- Things to keep in mind for the Body
- Have a clear and simple structure. Not multiple levels of sub-points. Again, if your thought has multiple levels of complexity, multiple articles might be in order.
- Make clear transitions to help readers. The article is not just a collection of unrelated points. It is a single article in which the different points work together.
- Don’t assume that people understand everything you are saying. Explain yourself. Whether it is words or concepts, make sure readers know what you mean.
- On the other hand, don’t give too much information. Limit yourself to what is needed. We are not aiming to impress people with how much we know or how complicated we can make things. We want to communicate ideas as simply and clearly as we possibly can.
- Things to keep in mind for the Conclusion
- Don’t repeat what you’ve already said in the article verbatim, but you could briefly go over the points.
- This could be a good place for some applications. We want readers to think about the “So what?” question.
- Remember that readers may even be nominal Christians or non-Christians. Think of ways to point them to the gospel and a healthy local church.
- Try and tie it to the introduction. For example, if your introduction has a story or incident or concept, the conclusion can come back to that story. A good conclusion will help you fulfil the goal of influence people effectively.
Jonathan George serves as a pastoral staff with Satya Vachan Church, Lucknow. He is married to Hina, and they have a son and a daughter