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Thursday, September 22, 2011

The Call to Community

I live a blessed life. No, really. I do.

Lately I’ve been realizing just how blessed, as I’ve coordinated several large-team projects.

These projects have increased my coordination skills, but they have also taught me about human relations—which means I’m learning things that will eventually inform my character development.

Being part of something bigger
News flash: Writers are sort of solitary creatures. But give them a cause they believe in—say the promotion of Christian fiction or the education of neophyte authors—and it can be hard to turn off their enthusiasm.

But it’s not just enthusiasm. Writers and editors are evangelists for writing and editing. In the Christian arena, I’ve yet to meet one who isn’t willing to share his or her experiences in order to help another writer overcome a challenge or take the next logical step.

Contests and conferences
For instance, the
Christian Writers Guild’s Operation First Novel contest recently closed for this year. At the bell, we had received 118 entries.

The next day I parceled out those entries to our volunteer judges—all working (and successful) writers and editors. I can’t name them, because judging is anonymous, but to a person they were excited to have the opportunity to offer guidance and feedback to those 118 unpublished authors—one of whom will no longer be unpublished at the end of the contest.

I am also the editor-in-chief for the American Christian Fiction Writers ezine, Afictionado. For the month of October we’re producing two special editions of the ezine:




  • ACFW Carol Awards issue: For this project, 35+ book reviewers joined forces to provide reviews of 45 books in 15 categories. The fact that almost every reviewer met deadline—and many came in early—was icing on the cake. The cake was the enthusiasm with which all the reviewers participated. Check out their work on Oct. 1, 2011, at www.acfw.com/ezine.

  • ACFW Conference issue: Here more than 40 reporters and 8 editors volunteered their time and talents to report on every session, keynote address, and Early Bird workshop. What makes is so sweet is that each year about half of the crew are new participants and half are returning for another helping. This edition of the ezine will publish on Oct. 15, 2011, at the same URL.


Making a difference
None of this would be possible without the volunteers who make it happen. If you’re involved in any of these three projects, I hope you know you have my thanks.

But, even if you’re not involved, I hope you can see the importance of coming together as a group to make a difference in people’s lives—of being a part of something bigger.

As Christians, that’s what we’re called to—to community. To mutual support. To, as Michael Card once wrote, “day after day…take up the basin and towel.”




Michael Ehret is the Editor-in-Chief for the Jerry B. Jenkins Christian Writers Guild. He has written for newspapers and other print and online outlets. He edited several nonfiction books, was the senior editor for a faith-based financial services and insurance organization, and is the editor of Afictionado, the ezine for American Christian Fiction Writers.