Tobias Fünke: "So what are your plans for this evening?"
Bob Loblaw: "I thought that maybe I would stay in and work on my law blog."
Tobias Fünke: "Ah, yes. The 'Bob Loblaw Law Blog'."
* * *
My new friend and future Collective Church guest speaker Jessica Zan has included me in a "blog hop." It's kind of like a game of tag, but instead of nonsensically running around trying to make someone else "it," each included ("tagged") blogger is invited to answer a few questions about blogging. This worked out well for me, because I was just sitting here feeling guilty for not having written anything this week, and now I have an honest-to-goodness prompt. So thank you, Jessica, for giving me something to write about!
What am I writing or working on?
I've recently started a church, so most of my writing time these days is used to work on sermons. I'm starting a series this weekend on the Ten Commandments, so that's been my primary focus.
As far as the blog is concerned, I've been trying to think of new subjects to approach, but the ideas have been coming slowly and not very fully formed. When I first started this blog last year, I had plans to post something new at least three times a week. It worked for the first six weeks, but lately I've been lucky to get one new post up every week. This is partially due to spending so much time and energy working on the church, but it's also partially due to a severe lack of ideas. I've been considering writing a blog series exploring the book of Genesis...
I tend to write best (and quickest) when I get worked up about something, like gender roles or doubt or hearing that someone has been denied membership at a church for some arbitrary reason. When I hear about those kinds of things, the blog ideas come really easily. However, I don't want to be a blogger who only writes out of anger or frustration.
So apparently this first blog hop question just saved me about an hour's worth of therapy.
How does my work differ from others in its genre (commingled with Why do I write what I do)?
I both love and hate this question. I love it because it forces me to really think about what I'm doing. I hate it because I feel like the most honest answer is that my work doesn't differ at all from others in its genre because I'm a hack.
I feel like my sermons are different, but it's hard to say why. I try really hard to create sermons that don't sound like anything I ever heard when I was growing up in church but also don't sound like so many sermons you hear at churches today that include the obligatory three-to-five application points that often seem wedged into the message to make it seem more "relevant." Those are specific styles that work for lots of people, but I feel like there is a lot of that out there already, and that doesn't really move me like it seems to move others. That said, I'm not really sure how to specifically say what's different about my sermons (without sounding incredibly self-serving, that is).
However, the reason I write (and preach) what I do is because I'm interested in helping people engage in a conversation about faith and reality. Specifically, I'm interested in helping people be set free from religious baggage in order to have a more life-giving experience. If someone has spent a significant time in church and has ever thought, "This can't be right. People shouldn't treat each other this way," my hope is to provide a new way of thinking that might help that person discover a new, healthier way of thinking about faith and life. I believe Jesus wants to save us from all of the things that torment us and that there is a God who wants to restore shalom in the world.
How does my writing process work?
I think the word "process" is pretty generous. I try to be sitting down and writing by around 8:30 every morning, after I give my kids breakfast and make my first cup of coffee of the day. Then the process depends on what I'm working on at the moment. If I'm prepping a sermon, I tend to write out the main stuff by hand and then memorize the basic order of what I want to say. If I'm working on a blog, I'll write a rough draft and, if I'm not in any hurry to publish it, I will send it to a friend for proofreading. If I want to put it out that day or the next morning, I'll run it through Grammarly.com to catch any massive typos and make sure I haven't accidentally plagiarized anything (I always do a plagiarism check; it's a habit I formed in graduate school). Of course, all of this happens with frequent coffee refills, trips to the bathroom, Facebook page refreshes, and my two-year-old daughter climbing up in my lap to see what I'm doing and/or to demand that I read her a book.
I always listen to music when I'm working. In fact, in the amount of time I've been working on this post, I have listened to Radiohead, the Rolling Stones, Soundgarden, and Gordon Lightfoot (yeah, you read that right; "Sundown" is a great song).
I also read a lot, which can prompt a new thought that might become a blog post at some point. Nadia Bolz-Weber's excellent book Pastrix gave me a couple of great quotes that became posts. So I'd consider reading to be part of my writing process.
What other writers would I like to introduce you to?
It's hard to choose, but I'd say-
Christina May Gibson at The Roundabout Way
Dave Fuller ("About Pops") at www.aboutpops.com
Katie McKown (Pastor of Scottsville Baptist Church) at Hermeneutics in High Heels