Writer's Block...don't you hate it when it's newsletter deadline time and you just don't know what to say?
I write a "From the Pastor" article for our congregation's newsletter every other month. (I'm an associate.) I feel like this column should be devotional in nature, more like a sermon than a news article. But I often struggle with what to write about. How should I decide? Sometimes there is something in the life of the congregation or community that sparks something, but not always. What are some good topics when my well is dry?
First, a word from our newest matriarch, "Sunday's Coming", who can be followed at www.thinkingaboutpreaching.blogspot.com:
Not trivial at all: on the one hand a letter is shorter than most sermons, but because it’s written people can go back over it and read it again – so in some ways you can’t ‘get away with’ things. I think you’re right to go for something reflective.
asking people for suggestions (in person, by email, on website...)
relating to dates in the calendar (St Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, etc)
having a series on ‘big’ questions (love, death, suffering, etc)
& even googling a question like ‘What do people most want to know?’
None of these has been totally successful, but none has been a total failure either. Just occasionally someone will refer to something I have written & it can start a really good conversation. Mostly I would want to encourage you to keep at it and live by faith – it’s amazing what the Holy Spirit does behind our backs, sometimes... Or maybe with Pentecost so close I should goes ‘over our heads’!
Singing Owl, who blogs at The Owl's Song offers the following:
I used to write a similar column. When stuck, I often read the writings or devotions of great men or women of the church—not to copy them—to get inspired. Two wonderful resources for this, both from Renovare, are “Devotional Classics” and “Spiritual Classics.” Many of the selections are relatively short, and all are well worth reading and pondering. Sometimes I would take a broad topic about which much could be said and break It into a series of articles. Like, for example, PRAYER. Big topic…so maybe consider an article on what prayer is, then one on why some prayers seem to go unanswered, and so on. Prayer, faith, hope, love, grace, mercy—all these broad topics lend themselves to pondering and “dissecting” into digestible bites of spiritual food.
Sue, who blogs at Inner Dorothy adds:
Hmmm.....I tend to write newsletters that are seasonal in nature, so the topic is sort of set for me. I like the idea of alternate month newsletters - staying connected is so important. I suppose there is the obvious "What's Happening Now" kind of topic, in which you keep folks up to date with the latest activities of the church. What if you added a theological reflection to an otherwise ordinary "announcement" type of article? In other words, try turning "We're having our spring tea" into a reflection on the wonder of God's creation and our celebration of it, along with a summer reminder of our human responsibility to be good stewards of God's earth.
You get the idea. Turn what might at first glance seem like an ordinary idea into a deeper Spirit-filled and thought-full reflection.
How about a poll? You could include an opportunity for folks to tear off the last page of the newsletter and drop it in a box in the narthex or on the collection plate answering questions such as:
* how do you like the time of worship?
* would it be helpful to you to have a printed copy of the sermon (for the hard of hearing)?
* do you attend our church's social events?
* if not, why not? Could we provide transportation if that's a problem?
There are a lot of good ideas here, but I am sure that we haven't exhausted them all! So please bring your ideas to the table, using the comment function at the close of this post.