My Journey to a Writing Ministry
Those who knew me in high school and college might be a bit surprised to discover that I now a Christian writer. Until my graduation, I was known primarily as a performer. After my name, the very first description someone would give of me was that I was a singer. Though I enjoyed singing a variety of styles—such as opera, choral, and pop—my favorite was musical theater.
While I was attending Heidelberg University, I also sang in a group on the side called Blendz. Our quartet’s members met back in high school and continued performing throughout our higher education (originally we were called After Six). After I graduated from Heidelberg, I was determined to pursue a career in music. Instead of performing our own a cappella arrangements of cover songs, Blendz started to perform original music composed by some of the members of the group. Eventually, my future wife's brother, Kyle, became our agent, setting up a good number of gigs for us throughout the Midwest.
Maybe I’m getting ahead of myself.
I should mention that one day back in college I had a powerful spiritual experience where I realized the blessings God had freely given me. I also saw how I badly I neglected my relationship with Him. After my roommate played a song for me by Michael W. Smith called "I miss the Way," I realized that I had not been living for Him. This was the first time, as an adult, I made a conscious effort to start aligning my life with God's will.
Following that day, I began writing Christian song lyrics that dealt with some of the lessons the Holy Spirit was teaching me. I went to my friend, Rob, who was the primary writer of the music for Blendz, and asked if he would like to start collaborating with me on Christian music. Even though we were still trying to pursue a career with Blendz, he and I continued doing Christian music on the side.
A problem arose when I started to feel an increasingly greater pull toward the Christian music. As every week passed, I not only found myself increasingly closer to the Lord, but also filled with more of a desire to minister through music. These feelings finally climaxed when I discovered that Rob, too, wanted to start pursuing Christian music exclusively. Rob and I split from Blendz and began to organize our music ministry called V. I. P.: Victorious in Praise. It was during this process of starting a music ministry that I was wed to my college girlfriend, Kari.
When Rob and I first began planning what we would do with the ministry, I felt it imperative to leave people with more than simply good, entertaining music. I began writing messages in a format that incorporated passages from the Bible as well as the songs that we had written. So, those listening to our program would hear part of the spoken message, which led into one of our songs. The next portion of the message would be given, followed by another song. This continued until five to seven songs were sung, as well as an entire message given, all of which blended into one cohesive whole.
Kari was eventually added to the group, giving the music fuller harmonies, but V. I. P. was unfortunately disbanded when Rob had to move away for personal reasons. It was at this point in my life when I experienced the greatest amount of confusion, but also some of the greatest joys. On the one hand, I didn’t know what the Lord wanted me to do with my life. After all, I had always been a music man, and now I had seemed to run out of options. I also experienced some of the greatest joys of my life as Kari and I had a son and a daughter. It was their births in particular that pushed me forward, rather than sitting back and wallowing in what I considered at that time to be a failed career.
My son was born about nine months or so after V. I. P. ceased ministering. I had a secure job at the post office (and still do), so providing for my family was not really an issue. I still had the strong desire, though, to be involved in some kind of ministry for God. Looking at some of the messages I had written for V. I. P., I realized that much of my satisfaction I felt when we finished ministering in a church was in how our messages were received. Shortly after my son’s birth, I began concentrating solely on the writing part of the prior ministry.
I was still not sure what I wanted to do specifically, but I began writing Christian articles for practice, as well as studying the various aspects of writing to better my craft. I had originally toyed with the idea of a newsletter or magazine of some kind, so I continued to write articles. I also had some book ideas I wished to someday undertake. It wasn't until my daughter was born—just fifteen months after my son—that my focus fell on one particular book idea. That concept was outlined, given content, and expanded until two years later when I finished the first draft of Six Steps to Prepare for Combat: Utilizing the Armor of God in Spiritual Warfare.
Since that time, many positive things have happened in and through my writing ministry. I have seen multiple articles published in various Christian magazines, I have been a guest blogger for a men’s website, and I have regularly written articles for my website. Beyond that, some of my concentration has been directed toward social media, as I have seen a great need for positive messages on such sites.
The book I completed has undergone many changes since the initial draft. I have renamed it “Armed & Ready: training for spiritual warfare” and nearly cut the book in half. As I continue to write for the web and for magazines I still plan on continuing my search for publication for that book.
I must say, much of what I have learned about viewing my writing as a business and a ministry, I got from being a part of my previous vocal groups. In fact, I learned more from being in V. I. P. in particular than any other group. All other performing, both in and out of college, taught me everything I needed to know about the art of singing in front of audiences. In V. I. P., I discovered what it takes to organize the other behind-the-scenes activities that are often not considered. I owe a debt of gratitude to Rob for all that he taught me, as he was a natural in business and organization. I look at writing as a ministry, of course, but also as a business that I can concentrate increasingly more on as time passes.
When I really think about it, it is not all that surprising that I would be pursuing a career/ministry of writing. Reading has always been a passion of mine as far back into my childhood as I can remember, due to the fact that my mother read to my sisters and me frequently. I do also have a background in writing aside from V. I. P. I wrote for the Heidelberg newspaper, the Kilikilik, while in college, and I took a number of writing courses. I just never concentrated much on writing due to the pursuit of my other passion, Music.
I still sing as a worship leader and soloist at my local church, which has a talented choir and music ministry. But I am amazed at the ways the Lord has worked in my life to bring me to this point, where I am pursuing a writing ministry. Whatever happens in this journey, I know that as long as I go to the Lord for guidance, He will lead me down the path I should go.