Writing for laypersons?

Meme by Dennis Bills, http://www.Reformingwv.org

As I begin the research and writing on my next book (Title TBD), I am struck by how much research is required in order to do justice to the topic (to be announced at a later date).

My first book, Take Root Bear Fruit, involved a modicum of inquiry into commentaries and tomes of theology, but I was largely writing from heart and mind things that had been simmering for some time. Perhaps that is the way of many first books. Certainly I felt that I was writing for myself even as I wrote to influence and persuade others.

Writing for a blog is a whole ‘nother thing. In blog writing, you are trying to be succinct. There’s a rule of thumb of “500 words or less” (I fail often). But in pursuing concision, I often am constrained from fully developing and defending a line of thought.

I recently found this meme created by Presbyterian pastor and author Dennis Bills. It literally made me LOL. Even in its humor, it pulls me away from the tendency to be pithy (and lazy) and pushes me to delving into the depths of the topic at hand.

Yes, this new work is not meant to be overly scholastic. But that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be scholarly. I may be writing for the layperson, but my passion for church people is that they engage their Bibles with their minds. This will necessarily involve some academic pursuit into deeper waters.

So, where before, I may have finished a paragraph ready to move on to another sub-heading, I now find myself realizing that I just opened a can of worms, and I need to explain it more fully. Back to research. I don’t want to short-change my explanation.

Far too much writing in the Christian market today is aimed at the lowest common denominator. It moves too quickly from doctrinal content (if any) to life lessons and morality instruction. If it quotes Scripture at all, it does so in a proof-text fashion with no systematic instruction. Lord willing, I will not do that.

May I not be academically lazy in my writing in the name of “writing for the layperson.”

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