Writing may be a solitary activity, but writing for God’s glory requires community. In How to Build a Platform as a Christian Writer, we looked at how to build a platform that glorifies God and blesses others without falling into pride. A focus on “Body-building”—building up the Body of Christ—instead of self-promotional platform-building requires a community mindset.
Cultivating community is crucial for both the art and heart of writing for God’s glory. The art of writing refers to the activity or skill itself. An effective community for writers includes our audience in addition to those who can help us improve in the craft. The heart of writing refers to the emotional and spiritual aspects of our work. As writers for God’s glory and the good of others, we need a community that protects, guides, and nourishes us spiritually.
5 Ways Community is Crucial in Writing for God’s Glory
As Christian writers, we need a robust community made up of people who address different facets of our writing. Our communities support the connection with our readers, improve our writing, safeguard our spirits, ensure the integrity of our words, and keep us going through the challenges.
Community is Crucial for Connecting with Your Readers
Effective writing demands knowledge and understanding of your intended audience. What problems and questions do they have? How do they think? How well do they know the Bible? Information like this helps you to truly connect with them through your words. The better you know your readers, the more you can write in a way that’s relatable to them. When they read your words, they’ll think, “She totally understands me!” To know and understand your audience, you must engage with them and cultivate community with them in some form.
Community is Crucial for Writing with Excellence
All writers can improve their writing, and editing is an effective way to make that happen. Even full-time professional writers with dozens of published books require the help of an editor. We can use tools like Grammarly or Pro Writing Aid for convenient self-editing, but enlisting the help of another writing friend or editor (or “freditor”) takes it a step further. They can provide better feedback about our content or the structure of our writing.
Editing can be scary, but Psalm 12:6 changed my perspective on this vital part of the writing process. It says, “The words of the Lord are pure words, like silver refined in a furnace… purified seven times.” My words are far from perfect. Even when I finish a draft, I’m under no illusion of having achieved perfection. But I do want my words to glorify God. So, as with silver, refining is necessary. The more I refine my words, the purer they get. (It’s like the process of sanctification. As the furnace purifies silver, and fire refines gold, so editing “sanctifies” our words”.)
It’s hard to see our precious words and paragraphs crossed out in red. Editing can be painful. Proverbs 27:5–9 challenges us in this: “Better is open rebuke than hidden love. Faithful are the wounds of a friend… Oil and perfume make the heart glad, and the sweetness of a friend comes from his earnest counsel (Proverbs 27:5-9 ESV).” When we humbly invite honest critique of our work, we can learn to embrace the discomfort by recognizing how constructive criticism and kind suggestions can improve our writing for God’s glory and the blessing of others.
Community is Crucial for Writing with a Heart of Humility
Humility is a key to writing for God’s glory instead of our own. Community keeps us humble. To stay on level ground with our audience, and to avoid falling off a dangerously high pedestal, we must write from a position of learning instead of as a lofty expert. Cultivating a community of editorial feedback is one way to ensure we’re always learning and that we remain teachable.
Staying connected with other writers provides us with plenty of opportunities to learn new writing skills, too. We benefit from reading writers who inspire us, who write better than we do, who write the way we hope to write. We can learn from writers with a message and audience similar to ours, and we can learn from writers who are vastly different. We are wise to reach out to writers we want to learn from and ask them questions. Again, this keeps us humble.
Community is Crucial for Accountability
Like humility, accountability is one of the principles of the Christian life we tend to shy away from. It’s often perceived as a legalistic check-up to prevent us from sinning—like our own personal security system that watches and sounds an alarm when we do something wrong.
But the Bible’s description of accountability is vastly different and far more appealing. Accountability simply means that we’re responsible for our own actions. Whether we realize it or not and whether we like it or not, we are all accountable to God. Romans 14:2 (NLT) tells us that “each of us will give an account of ourselves to God”. Our accountability to God is already in place. It’s not a formal thing we must set up; it just is.
However, the Bible encourages us to seek out accountability within the Christian community. This is wisdom (Proverbs 18:1). Accountability in our writing means being in community. Having others read what we write is a way of protecting ourselves against self-serving. It’s a way of pursuing sound judgment and ensuring we rightly handle the Word of God.
Inviting the input of others protects us and increases our likelihood of success (Proverbs 11:14; 15:22). Taking the time to share our writing with someone else before making it public safeguards us from prematurely publishing something that’s driven more by emotion than truth. An extra set of eyes can spot phrasing or tone that could easily be misunderstood, and make helpful suggestions to bring clarity to our message.
It’s important to be accountable to people who know us personally. This protects us against hypocrisy. For example, knowing my daughters are subscribers to my newsletter keeps me from presenting myself in a way that’s inauthentic. I want to be the same woman in my emails as the woman my daughters know.
Community is Crucial for Encouragement
Every writer needs encouragement, and community provides it abundantly. Most writers tend to focus on our inadequacies or fear that someone else can write our message better than we can—the common struggle known as imposter syndrome. We see the wealth of writing already out there and wonder if we really have anything of value worth adding to an already vast supply of words.
Sharing our writing with a community of other writers and supporters can provide the encouragement we need to keep going and fulfill the call to write. Ecclesiastes 4:9–12 tell us that “two are better than one”, that a companion along the way can keep us warm and help us when we stumble or weaken. A community of writing companions can help us keep going when we feel like giving up.
4 Practical Ways to Cultivate Community in Writing for God’s Glory
What does this kind of community look like in the life of a Christian writer? Here are a few practical ideas.
- Define who your audience is, then get to know people who fit that description. Engage with them in real life or online. Listen to them, learn how they think, discover their needs, etc.
- Be committed to and actively involved in a local church.
- Build a network of “freditors”—friends, family, and fellow writers who know you well and can edit your writing. If you want input from a professional editor, I highly recommend Lara d’Entremont.
- Join a writing community for feedback, learning, inspiration, and encouragement. I highly recommend the GCD Writer’s Guild and The Writers’ Bloc. Or subscribe to Wield The Word and join my own little writing community on Substack!
Online writing communities can be invaluable. However, effective accountability happens in the context of relationships, so we must always begin with people we know in person, not on digital communities alone.
As Christian writers, let’s fight the temptation to isolate ourselves and to share our words from behind a veil. We must be in community if we are to write for God’s glory and the good of others. Becoming actively involved in a Christ-centered community of writers, creatives, or others who support our writing is an opportunity to “stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near” (Hebrews 10:24–25).