Writing for Life and Ministry Review

Book Review: 

Too frequently, we forget that all of us our writers. Emails and text messages have cemented this reality into our lives. While not everyone is called upon to produce formal content (such as books, blogs, etc.) technology now means that those in ministry find content creation as part of their job description. Brandon O’Brien has just these experiences in his own calling as a pastor, which lead him to write, Writing for Life and Ministry.

A graduate of Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, O’Brien currently works with Timothy Keller to coordinate various ministry projects. From his experiences, both in ministry and in writing, the author is able to bring quite a bit of information together for readers so that they may become better, more confident writers. This short book pulls together quite a bit of information to offer an introduction for anyone who has to do some sort of writing (even those communicating with just their church body through newsletters, letters, etc.).

After a short introduction, the author has divided this book into two parts: Part One-The Writer & the Reader; Part Two-The Process (which he simply defines as plan, draft, and revise). Brandon O’Brien’s treatment of the relationship between the reader and writer is one of the most profound I’ve seen on the topic. He offers some interesting insights and creative helps that writers will find useful. His treatment of the writing process is pretty straightforward and with the exception of a few points, not much beyond what most people receive in a basic high school English or writing class.
An additional strength of this book comes from the activities at the end of each chapter. The author has put together a list of tasks to help readers define what to write about, who they should write to, and how to do it. These helps are beneficial to any reader.

My biggest frustration is the author’s lack of acknowledgment of God. The author hammers the point that writers should first write for themselves and then write for others. Yet, apart from a minor quote, he does not exhort his readers to write for God. Furthermore, despite the title, most of the information is pretty general and he does little to connect the writing process directly to the ministry. As a Christian writer who chose to write to other Christians, he missed an opportunity here.

Overall, Writing for Life and Ministry asserts itself as a good introductory book for the Christian writer. It does not supplant the need for such classics like those written by William Zinsser and E.B. White. At the very least, many writers would benefit from the exercises the author included.

To learn more about this book, and some of the others mentioned in this review, click the following titles:
Writing for Life and Ministry by Brandon O’Brien
On Writing Well by William Zinsser
The Elements of Style by Strunk & White

Coffee Pairing: Every good book deserves to be paired with a good cup of coffee. This book pairs well with Montenero coffee from Cafe Luxxe. While the coffee is excellent, it’s the experience that makes it the perfect cup for this book. While they have many locations, tucked away in a quiet part of Santa Monica is my favorite cafe. With no wifi, patrons are forced to converse with one another or observe their surroundings. The ambiance created lends itself to the creative process for writers.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the publisher for the purposes of review. However, this review was not influenced in any way by the publisher, author, or anyone else associated with the book.