Over the past couple of weeks I have had a similar question brought to me from several different people. In essence, all of them have asked for a format for faith-based writing. One of those people is aspiring to write a daily devotional with 365 short devotions on a similar topic, one was wanting to incorporate more faith-based writing on her blog, and another was wanting to use writing to develop her own faith.
These questions got me thinking. I’ve done plenty of faith-based or scripture-based writings over the years. Currently, I also volunteer with my church’s writing team, but my blog does not contain any real formal writing on faith.
Over the new year I want to be sure to publish more of these short writings on my blog. Additionally, I am planning to also use my Sunday posts to discuss what I learned at church each week in a series entitled, Today at Covenant… Please consider joining me as I dive into my pastor’s message and the awesome things God is doing at Covenant Church in Grove City, Ohio.
As for a format for faith-based writing there really is no such thing. I’ve taken the last few days to research some of my favorite devotionals and their author’s styles. Through this research and a great conversation with a friend at Starbucks I’ve developed a rough outline for anyone interested in doing some faith-based writing. This is not the only formula for success, but it’s a place to start. If you would like to use this format don’t feel confined to exactly what is prescribed. Take this format and make it yours. This is just a basic outline.
In order to download this template here is a link to the pdf file: DailyDevotionFormat (1)
Below is a look at some ideas of what to include in the each part of the writing:
- Focus Scripture: Your writing should begin with a scripture focus. Depending on the length of your writing this can be anywhere from a verse, a couple of verses, or a chapter from the Bible. This is the scripture you plan to dive in to through your writing and you are committing to studying this scripture before any of the writing begins. It is up to you to decide the length of scripture you choose for this portion.
- Personal Anecdote: Also, depending on the length you have in mind this portion may vary in size. Generally a faith-based or devotional writing will contain 1-2 paragraphs of a personal anecdote. This is a real life story that you feel the readers will be able to relate to or learn from. As you write this portion you want to be sure to use descriptive details that show your readers how it felt to be you in your story as opposed to only telling them the story. Specifically focus on the five senses in your writing. Doing so naturally keeps you from telling instead of showing. Finally, be sure to be honest and raw at this point in your writing. One thing that makes devotional writing hard is that often times it does require us to set aside our pride and be completely honest with our audience. In my opinion, no one does this better than Lysa TerKeurst from Proverbs 31 Ministries. She’s an awesome example of an author who has no scruples with being totally real even when the truth is ugly. If you aren’t familiar with her please check out her site linked above.
- Scripture Study: The next part is going to move from the narrative to more of a research-based writing. Most writers will find that this part should be written before the antecdote, but once again it all depends on how you approach this type of writing. A smooth transition between the two is necessary to keep the feelings you’ve built in the reader and to move them to the healing that comes from The Word. This should be the meat of your writing. The crux of your demonstration. Allow 2-4 paragraphs for this study. Three questions to direct this part of your writing: How does this scripture relate to the anecdote? How does this scripture relate to its context in scripture? What is this scripture calling you and your readers to understand/do?
- Call to Action: After the reader has been handed the truth it’s now time to make a challenge. Think about that last question from the scripture study. With the answer in mind think of a measurable task that you can hand your reader. Life change comes through putting the Truth of scripture into practice. Provide that opportunity by some type of call to action.
- Prayer: Finally, once you have brought your reader full circle wrap your writing up with a short, but real prayer. This could be one that you wrote yourself while dealing with the topic yourself or one that you write as you pray over your readers.
One thing I’ve learned about writing devotionals in particular is that we are much better writers when we are first of all writing for ourselves. Our writing is best when it is raw and honest so if you are struggling with something the first step to healing may be to write about that particular hardship following a similar template to the one I’ve provided.
In the past, I’ve written some devotions that I plan to publish on here in the future. Until then…
The Ameri Brit Mom