Writing for Life and Ministry by Brandon J. O’Brien is a brief yet incredibly helpful book. This resource was created to help those in ministry who may not have a background in writing. It includes practical tips as well as exercises for growing as a writer. The writing process is broken down into 3 main components: planning, drafting, and revising. Although these components are academic in nature, O’Brien discusses them in a way that is practical and personable.
Writing for Life and Ministry is composed in an easy to read, accessible manner. While much of the book contains detailed instruction for writing itself, it also includes encouragement for writers. I was really thankful for O’Brien’s reminder that writing is a way of serving people and as such ought not to be taken lightly. “Why not come to writing lightly?” O’Brien asked on page 54. He answered, “Because the people who choose to be your readers have paid you an extraordinary honor. They have given you their attention for the length of time it takes them to read your post or book or newsletter. They have given you some measure of authority to shape the way they understand the world and how to live their lives. You honor their investment in you when you take your task seriously.”
O’Brien draws from the wisdom of other writers, both Christian and non, who have gone before him. The writers he mentions range from Stephen King to Anne Lamott. O’Brien includes quotes by Anne Lamott, who is a self-proclaimed born again Christian. It’s important to note that many Christians value her contributions to writing yet forsake her unbiblical theology. I believe this to be true of O’Brien. While some may feel bothered by his including the quotes, the ones he uses are about the craft of writing. While I don’t know that I would read or recommend Lamott’s works, I was not bothered by reading these quotes as they supported the purpose of the book which is to help Christians (and even non-Christians) grow as writers, not necessarily as theologians.
One aspect that I really appreciated in the book, is O’Brien’s reminder to writers to carefully and concisely choose their words. On page 49 he said, “It doesn’t really matter what you meant. What matters is how it sounds. Be gracious to a fault.” This is simple yet essential advice, especially for Christian writers.
Writing for Life and Ministry is an excellent resource for anyone hoping to learn about writing and I highly recommend it.
I received Writing for Life and Ministry compliments of Moody Publishers in exchange for my honest review.