Writing as Ministry: A Breakfast Conversation

By Chris Maxwell

Are you a writer or a minister?” he asked.

I had just taken a bite of breakfast, so I took time to taste my French toast. My new friend intended to use that question to initiate dialogue. He smiled. I slowly chewed my food while pondering a potential answer.

I said, “Both.”

I like to include quick answers even in lengthy conversations. Especially during breakfast.

“I thought you stopped pastoring so you could be a fulltime author,” he said.

French toast. Sausage. This conversation. I was loving my morning.

Pausing my nourishment, I began telling a few stories. About writing. About editing. About ghostwriting. About pastoring.

My main word was ministry. How ministry happens through words spoken from pulpits and words written on pages. How ministry occurs in offices offering pastoral care and desks typing paragraphs on computers. How ministry includes listening to stories while offering deep care and listening to stories to turn into articles.

Writing and ministry do not have to be either-or. They can be both-and. For me, they are. For many writers who might not realize it, their words written can be ministry to people they never meet in person. Wounded hearts read stories in magazines, chapters in books, blogs on computers, and articles on phones. Healing happens. Hope arrives. Words bring nourishment.

Ministry for the reader

While tasting and relishing our meal, we discussed how good writers keep their readers in mind. They speak the language of the tribe they seek to reach. They offer narratives and questions and ideas which connect to that population. They type with a hope of encouragement, of assurance.

What can we call that? We can call it ministry.

Through nouns and verbs, through paragraphs and pages, through questions and conflict, writers connect with the readers. As eyes open to the language, minds and hearts open with anticipation. 

“Maybe the writer can relate to me,” a reader thinks. “Maybe this story is what I need during this season of my life,” a reader hopes.

Writers should not only keep the readers in mind as they write, but they should also grasp the overarching story. Each story is a piece of the larger puzzle. Important, but a part of something much bigger. Of value, but true to a greater good.

Writers hope readers will enjoy the story. Writers hope readers want to read more of their stories. But as followers of Jesus, writers should seek to invite—gently, creatively, lovingly rather than preachy or demanding—audiences into a larger story. A story of redemption. A story of healing. A story of grace.

My friend sipped his coffee. I drank my orange juice. I read to him two responses from people who recently commented on my blog. Words written for an online audience visited them personally. He began to grasp the merging of those words into a world of one: the ministry of writing.

Ministry for the writer

I wanted a few more spoonsful of grits as I decided to voice one more point to my new friend. So, we stayed a little longer. I talked to him about how writing can also be ministry for us as we write. Not just for an audience reached, but for the writers themselves. The writing can be therapy—when seen and welcomed that way. The vocation can be much more than another source of income—when honored and respected that way.

“Yes,” I told him, “the extra income is nice. It is needed. But the process of researching and interviewing and writing and editing help renew my mind.” I talked about teaching spiritual formation, about how most of the assignments include journaling, about how many of my personal journal entrees begin as prayerful therapy and eventually turn into articles or book chapters.

That perspective helps freelance writers know that what we are doing is not only good for others; it is also good for us. Not just money coming in or our words going out. It is allowing healing to take place through the work of thinking, praying, investing, and enduring. God is a part of the progression. Like David’s journal entrees of poetic prayers, every blog or review or article can help our journey of transformation as our minds are renewed.

My new friend finished his coffee. I finished my grits and eggs and sausage and French toast. As we stood up to walk away, he said, “Thanks for educating me on how writing and ministry can all happen together. You need to write a story about that.”

I nodded and smiled. On the elevator to my room I began writing about a breakfast with a new friend, about why I write, and about how ministry happens through our words.

What about you? Can your writing be a means of ministry to many people? Can your work with words be more than achieving goals or adding income? Can the process become therapeutic for you, the writer?

I believe it can. As we taste and digest our own breakfasts of life, our words are ways we invite others to join us. The meals are too good to keep for ourselves. Let us write. Let us share. And let us realize the value for us all.


Chris Maxwell is the Campus Pastor and Director of Spiritual Life at Emmanuel College in Franklin Springs, Georgia. Prior to that he served as a youth pastor and lead pastor in Florida. He freelances for EPA publications and is the author of more than 10 books, including his most recent, Equilibrium: 31 Ways to Stay Balanced on Life’s Uneven Surfaces. Read his blog at

This article was first posted on the Christian Freelance Writers Network blog. 

Posted Feb. 26, 2024

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