I started leading a writing group at my church about four years ago, and I am amazed by what God has done. Admittedly, my first inclination was to start a reading group, but our women’s ministry already had one. My women’s minister suggested that I start a devotional writing group. I shrugged my shoulders and said, “Sure.”
Before this time, I had never written a devotional or led a writing group. I look back now and wonder, “What was I thinking? What made me think that I could create and lead a writing group?”
Luckily, I didn’t allow doubt and fear to kill God’s plan. God Knew what He was doing even if I didn’t, and I know that my act of faith has changed my life and has helped shine the light of Jesus to a lost world.
The Granola Bar Devotional Writing Ministry started as a small group of five women in my house. Now, this ministry has readers and writers from across the globe. In the beginning, the ministry was very fragile. I wanted to give up several times, and I’d hate to think about what would have happened if I called it quits.
For this reason, I want to encourage others who feel led by the Holy Spirit to start a writing group. The path of starting a writing group is different for each person, but I believe there are a few core principles that apply to everyone. I’ve gone on to use these principles in starting and leading many other writing ventures.
1) Be obedient to God’s will and way. Create a blueprint and purpose for your writing group, but be sensitive to the Holy Spirit’s leading. Don’t be surprised if your writing group takes several turns and morphs into many new creations.
2) Start locally and start small. One of the best ways to start a writing group is with a handful of people around you. Invest time and energy into the lives of your writers, and your group’s roots will become strong. Once you have a solid group, God will slowly expand and grow it.
3) Don’t be a grammar know it all. Yes, it is important for the writing to look polished; however, much of grammar is subjective. Do your best to proof everything, but don’t get consumed by it – it will steal your joy. Allow your writers to have their own style, and don’t make changes unless the writing hinders the content and confuses the reader. Remember, God works His perfect will even through our imperfections. You will not catch every mistake, and that fact will keep you humble.
4) You will do the bulk of the work. Starting a writing group is not easy. Most of your work will be done behind the scenes, and your writers may not fully be aware of all you do. You can delegate a few things, but your writers will focus mainly on meeting deadlines and soliciting other writers. Though your responsibility is heavy, your reward will be great. God will make changes in you that you never thought possible, so be prepared!
5) Keep the emphasis on the audience. Your writers will most assuredly develop their craft while working in your group, but they need a higher purpose to keep them motivated. Always remind them that they are changing lives for Christ with their words. Whether they touch the life of one or the lives of millions, they are growing the kingdom of God.
6) Stay humble, but confident. If you feel unqualified to lead a group, find confidence in your anointing. If God has called you to start a group, you will become qualified over time. However, you must stay humble or else you will not gain knowledge. You do not have to act like you know everything because you don’t. Your writers will appreciate your honesty, and you will establish a learning atmosphere for your group.
7) Don’t give up! The beginning of every new creation is the most precarious. Stay in God’s Word and make time to consult with the Holy Spirit. There should be a “Holy Ease” in the process of starting your group. If you are frustrated and overwhelmed, you might be taking the wheel and putting God in the backseat. Let God lead you, so you can save yourself wasted time, energy and resources.
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