An advertisement for a trip to Yellowstone National Park

Every course I taught during the fall semester at Campbell University Divinity School has been both enjoyable and challenging, none more so than one we call “The Ministry of Writing.” Believing that better writing skills can enhance ministry in a variety of ways, we cover everything from writing effective announcements in the church bulletin to press releases, from newsletter columns to letters to the editor, from obituaries to creative stories for use in preaching.

I want our students to be better prepared for the increasingly digital world in which we live, so one of their assignments was to start a blog and post at least four entries. Some were resistant, while others took to it like dolphins riding electronic waves.

Back in the 1960’s, Mike Clements was playing guitar for the likes of Atlanta-based artists like Joe South (“Walk a Mile in My Shoes”), Billy Joe Royal (“Down in the Boondocks”), and the Atlanta Rhythm Section. These days, he’s more likely to practice crosspicking bluegrass riffs with his daughter and joining the praise band at Moncure Baptist Church, where he is pastor. Mike’s opening entry spoke of being forced to blog, not at gunpoint, but at “gradepoint,” a wry observation that effectively introduced some intriguing writing.

April Duff got into the Christmas spirit with a blog about peppermint flavored hot chocolate, which she calls “Christmas in a cup.” I loved the imagery. I’d never considered putting peppermint and hot chocolate together, but I will now.

Andy Foley is an astute observer of life, and a good storyteller. I got a nice chuckle from his story about a busted garbage disposal and two plumbers named Catfish and Blue.

Joel Baucom, who’s working as a campus ministry intern in the Baptist Student Union at N.C. State, writes a particularly thoughtful blog at a trail of crumbs, often reflecting on social issues and human responsibilities.

Brad Smith was a police officer for three years before entering divinity school. Instead of chasing crooks and being called out for domestic squabbles, he’s now guiding the youth at First Baptist Church of Fayetteville, and drawing on both experiences in his “Front Porch Theologian” blog.

Brad often cracked jokes with Terri Stratton, who leads the music program at Brunswick Islands Baptist Church and effectively mixes both warmth and humor at “Country Girl Musings.” Reading her blog has me hankering for a taste of “cheesy corn casserole.” I’d never heard of such a thing before reading her Thanksgiving blog, but it sounds good to me.

Another back-row partner in crime is Scott Fitzgerald, pastor of Bayboro Baptist Church, north of New Bern. Like Terri, Scott lives at least three hours away, but is committed to both learning and ministry. As a volunteer chaplain with local police and fire departments, he’s been called out for more than his share of highway tragedies this year, and reflected on finding reasons for thanksgiving at BloggingForGod.

One student was ahead of me. Rebecca Frederick was blogging before the class began, and had posted 80 entries by early December. I liked this reflection about writing her obituary.

“O’Mazing” Sara Eddleton is a world traveler as well as natural blogger. She works with International Student Services at Campbell, and her blogging sometimes reflects her fascination with other cultures, like this entry about an Indian man who married a dog.

There were other students, and other good blogs. I’d introduce more of them, but enjoying student blogs is only a small part of my job. I also have all these final exams to grade …

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