At the beginning of each month, I receive approximately 15 or 20 church newsletters, mostly from neighboring churches. It seems to me a universal practice for churches to send out a monthly newsletter. Lots of these newsletters are similarly formatted: a calendar, a list of birthdays, a list of homebound members, a copy of the approved council minutes, publicity for upcoming congregational events, and the ubiquitous pastor's letter/note/column.
Each month, almost every pastor I know sits down and writes one of these puppies. Some take it as their opportunity to write a bit of theology. Others reflect on Scripture. Most write more of a column, either on a pressing topic within the congregation, or some matter of concern. Most columns that I read are not unlike blog entries. Some are long and rambling with little point. Others are concise and minor literary masterpieces (this might be an exageration).
I've often thought it would be wise for me to map out 12 "topics" for the year, so that there is some order to the madness, and my columns are not subject to the whims of fancy. The over-arching question is always this: what is the most important thing to publish in the congregation's life at this time, and a second question is like it: who will read it?
In this particular case, the events of last week will likely push out what I had intended to publish, a short essay on why more adults should be involved in Christian education in our congregation. Instead, I'll write descriptively about our congregational response to the tornado, and a Biblical reflection on the consolation we have from God in that we can pray to the Father, as the psalms often do, not only with thanksgiving and adulation, but also complaint and fear and concern.
I may try to slip an extra little note into the newsletter about Christian education. :)
I really do enjoy writing these columns- I think most pastors do, which is why they write them. It's like having a cottage publishing industry. It may distract some of us from the work of writing for larger publications (as does blogging, I guess). Nevertheless, it is fun to be able to write for a small community in the way pastors can in their monthly column. I pray that I will do it faithfully.