by April Yamasaki,
After twenty-five years of pastoral ministry, I sensed a new wind of the Spirit blowing in my life, leading me to invest more deeply in my writing and speaking beyond the local congregation. I still loved the church and still loved pastoral ministry, but I also knew from the movement of the Spirit that it was time for me to move on.
Yet I knew that my husband and I would still need a Christian community around us. My writing had always been grounded in the church and for the church—both my local congregation and the church at large. I was grateful for the opportunity to test ideas in sermons and in small groups, to know that church members were praying for my ministry both within and beyond our congregation.
So when the time came for “our” church to become “our former” church, I’m grateful that we found a new church home. Instead of pastoring full-time, I now serve as resident author for a smaller congregation where I preach just once a month, plus another two or three times a month for other churches and in other settings. I continue to write for both online and in print publications. And I continue to be grateful for a church community that responds to sermons and prays for me, and so helps shape my writing and speaking ministry.
At the same time, I realize that my community is bigger than my local congregation. As a writer, I’ve heard over and over again that I need to know my readers, to write directly to them, to go where my readers are on social media. That standard advice to connect with readers has been invaluable to me over the years. I love the readers who leave comments and likes, who send emails, who share the blog posts and books I’ve written with others. And I love the quiet ones too, who I may never hear from directly, but who read and ponder and think deep thoughts of their own. As I write, I think of them as part of my community too.
Lately I’ve also been thinking about how much I value having a community of writers. Writing can be a lonely occupation, with hours spent alone each day with pen and paper or in front of a computer screen, not knowing whether anyone will ever read or hear or appreciate the thoughts I struggle to put into words. But somehow knowing that other writers share this same journey encourages me.
I haven’t met many of the people listed as part of the Godspace Writers’ Community, but I sense their kindred spirit around the themes of spirituality, sustainability, and social justice. I look forward to their reflections, prayers, poetry, and other contributions on the Godspace blog. They nourish me, surprise me, challenge me. As Proverbs 27:17 says, “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.”
Thank you, God, for the gift of community—in the church, as readers, as writers, in person, online, around the world. As we seek to love you and love our neighbor, let us do so in community with one another.
If you’re interested in being part of the Godspace Writers’ Community, please check out the themes and contributor guidelines.
Build community with other Godspace readers during this virtual retreat experience Making Time for a Sacred Summer with Christine Sine and Lilly Lewin!