Friday, October 9, 2020

3 Elements in a Caring Writing Community

by Joshua J. Masters @JoshuaJMasters

As I completed the manuscript I recently sent to my publisher, the process overwhelmed me with questions.
  • Do I need a table of contents?
  • Should I send the back matter now or later?
  • Should I have my dog read over this one more time?
Search engines only offer conflicting advice—with every site I visited, my confidence dwindled. New to traditional publishing, I wanted everything to be perfect (that’s a problem to address in another post), but as I drew closer to hitting that send button, uncertainty took residence in my stomach. 

What freed my keystroke paralysis was not a website or reference book. It was the assurance of my Christian writing community. 

I went to several groups and received direction and encouragement from people I trust—believers who’ve traveled the same road I was walking. 

Information can never replace relationships.

I love our Christian writing community. And I think it’s significant that the word “Christian” comes before the word “writing.”

As a care pastor, we talk a lot about caring communities in our department. When someone comes to us for help, the first question we ask is about their support system. Are they connected to a healthy community? We address the immediate need, but if they’re not connected to a growing group of believers, that’s always the first step. Why? Because growth and healing never happen in isolation. 

That’s also true in our Christian writing communities. 

The primary goal of a Christian writer isn’t to sell books, publish an article, or get a contract. Those are all nice, but if God’s called you to a life of writing, His purpose is to draw you closer to Him, have you draw others closer to Him, and to glorify His name. Anything that distracts from those three goals will damage our writing.

So, how do we build Christian Writing Communities that go beyond supporting one another in the business of writing, and build one another up in the call of writing?

Here are three elements our Care Ministries team look for in a healthy, caring community:

1. Caring Communities encourage one another to pursue a growing relationship with Christ.

Jesus said, “Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5 NLT)

I’ve never met a Christian author who didn’t want their writing to bear fruit. That only happens when our primary focus is on growing in Christ. If Jesus is the vine, we’re the branches, and our writing is the fruit, then we must stay connected to Him.

Yes, we must continue to encourage one another in the business of writing, but our first priority must be to encourage one another in our faith.

Here are some questions I can ask myself:
  • Who is encouraging me to pursue a deeper relationship with Christ in my writing?
  • Who am I encouraging to pursue a deeper relationship with Christ in their writing?
  • When someone is struggling with their writing, am I willing to invest in their spiritual walk?

2. Caring Communities are inspired by God’s Word and His Spirit. 

All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. (2 Timothy 3:16 NLT)

How often have I allowed a deadline or clever writing idea to draw me away from my devotional time with God? That’s poison to a Christian writer’s soul. I’m hardly ever in the company of a Christian writing group without someone mentioning Story Trumps Structure by Steven James, On Writing by Stephen King, or The Elements of Style by Strunk and White. Those should probably be on every writer’s bookshelf, but how often do we say, “I want to share what I read in the Bible this morning. It’s had a big impact my writing” to our group?

Here are some questions I can ask myself:
  • What evidence in my life shows that I’m inspired by God’s Word and Spirit?
  • How does my time in Scripture affect my writing career?
  • As I read the Bible, what do I sense God wants me to know about my writing?
  • How am I encouraging other writers to see their careers through the lens of God’s truth?

3. Caring Communities act to meet the needs of others.

And don’t forget to do good and to share with those in need. These are the sacrifices that please God. (Hebrews 3:16 NLT)

This is a more difficult verse than it first appears because many of us make sacrifices for our writing that are not pleasing to God. Don’t get me wrong, sometimes we must eat at the keyboard, reschedule family time, and resist going out with friends. Deadlines are deadlines. But when that becomes a lifestyle, we stop sacrificing for Christ and start sacrificing for our own success.

Genuine sacrifice for the Lord is always selfless and benefits others. Even as a pastor, I sometimes come across someone in need and think, I don’t have time for this. I have too much to do. And if that’s what we’re thinking, we do have too much to do. 

As Christians, our primary purpose is serving others in a healthy way. That goes beyond what our writing offers the world. It requires investing in the needs of our family, neighbors, and writing community.

God will bless our writing when we shift our focus away from our task-list long enough to see the opportunities to serve others He places before us.

Here are some questions I can ask myself:
  • How am I meeting the needs of those around me?
  • Is there someone struggling in our writing community that we can all rally around?
  • Do I follow-through on the prompts I feel from the Spirit to reach out to other writers?

What an incredible opportunity God has given us.

If God has called you to a life of writing, He wants you to experience growth, joy, and fruit as you influence others for His Kingdom. 

I’ve never seen a more supportive group of professionals than I have in the Christian Writing Community. I’ve built deep friendships, received encouragement, and learned more than I ever could from a book. But it’s healthy and God-honoring to evaluate our hearts regularly with these questions. 

As we continue to coach and strengthen one another in the writing industry, let’s be intentional and humble in this call to action:

Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise. Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near. (Hebrews 10:23-25 NLT)


Joshua J. Masters is a pastor, author, and speaker. He’s been featured on CBN Television, HIS Radio, and the Light Radio Network. Josh is the author of American Psalms: Prayers for the Christian Patriot and is a contributing author for Feed Your Soul, Refresh Bible Study Magazine, and One Christian Voice. Josh has also worked as an actor and crew member in the film industry (SAG/AFTRA) and continues to have a passion for film. He lives with his wife, Gina, and Franklin the Pup outside Greenville, South Carolina where he serves as a speaking and care pastor.

Josh would love to connect with you on his website, or engage with you on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or Goodreads.


  1. Thanks, Josh, for those words of wisdom. It's a topic we don't hear much about in blogs or anywhere else.

    1. Thank you, Roberta. I agree. Helping one another pursue a deeper relationship with Christ is vital to our spiritual health and our writing.

  2. Amen my friend. I would've given up on this journey long ago with the support of our Christian writing community. I love your statement of "Christian first." God's blessings my friend. Hey to Ms. Gina; and please give Franklin the pup a Greenie Bone from his pal Bubba. :-)

    1. Thank you, brother! I've been so amazed by the Christian Writing Community and you are a great encouragement to me, J.D. Franklin the Pup send his love to Bubba!

  3. This rings true. It's been a long journey as I've discovered different organizations and Christian writers groups including this website. Donevy

    1. I agree, Debora. The community on this site is outstanding. I'm so grateful to hear you are being encouraged.

  4. Timely wisdom. Thank you. As I am nearing the conclusion of a project, so many questions and uncertainty. But God. Thank you for pointing me in the right direction.

  5. But God, Indeed! Thank you, Elizabeth. May the Lord guide and encourage you through His Spirit and your brothers and sisters as you finish your project.

  6. I am thankful for the writers/mentors God has placed in my life. :-)

  7. Those in the writing community are some of my closest friends. And those 3 goals you mentioned are the ones we should have at the top of our list, draw closer to God, draw others closer to Him, and glorify His name. No other goal can compare to those. Thank you, Joshua, for this inspiring post!

  8. Wonderful reflection, Joshua. Motives, motives, motives! So important to ask those questions you have shared above of ourselves. Thank you!