In the midst of frequent cries of “this is not what I trained for!” from church leaders during this pandemic, I stepped into one role that I must have been preparing for since ordination.
Last May I began to work as a very part-time contractor for Luther Seminary’s Faith+Lead, the separate but related continuing education department of the seminary, providing resources to leaders in the midst of congregational life. I was charged with turning a fairly infrequently used blog into a robust digital publication, The Faith+Leader. Now the content which I recruit, edit, and occasionally write myself 4 days per week is shared on social media AND sent out in bi-weekly e-newsletters that reach 15K-16K readers.
My supervisor, a full-time employee of Faith+Lead, connects me with those who are teaching courses for Faith+Lead when they have agreed to provide articles to promote their classes, and occasional special features like “Innovative Leader Profiles.” Otherwise, I listen, notice who is up to what on social media, and ask them to write. I invite colleagues past and present, and acquaintances in online clergy groups to write about what they know, or what I hear as frequent concerns among colleagues. Although this contract work is already growing with the development of a Book Hub through Faith+Lead, hosting events by/for authors, it began by fitting into the tiny space available between my congregational work, childcare and outside writing. I know what I have gone through as a pastor in 2020, so can readily imagine what at least some of my colleagues in similar settings need to hear (thus a recent 2-part series from an expert on compassion fatigue). Thankfully I am constantly meeting new people – at least virtually – in my own search for ideas and resources.
I have yet to have anyone turn down an invitation to write for The Faith+Leader, except when time gets away from them. Most often, people are honored to be asked. It is a great joy as a pastor who writes, to provide a platform for others like myself who sense that our words and ideas could go much further than our particular pulpit or meetings. The way to emerge from this pandemic with our vocations intact is together, and the generosity of colleagues who share their ideas is crucial. I love asking others to write!
In November I got to add another task to my Faith+Lead contractor work, asking people with PhD’s in Biblical Studies or Homiletics (Preaching) to write commentaries for WorkingPreacher.org. This is a different group than parish-based leaders, but they are also glad to share their expertise with a wider audience, in what might be the most practical publications they accrue. There is a spreadsheet of previous contributors, as Working Preacher has been running for more than 9 years. I look forward to having time, once my interim pastor position ends, to research new seminary and college theology professors to invite to write. I feel the importance of recruiting diverse authors to help my colleagues preach in this moment.