Books: Go Tell It

Appropriately, I had substantial writer’s block about how to start this review.

Writing is difficult; more so for some than for others, but even experienced writers sometimes struggle to explain or express interesting topics in an engaging manner.

For many missionaries, sharing captivating, inspiring stories of God’s work in, through, and around them can be harder than doing the work itself. Prayer letters can become infrequent, and supporters can be left wondering how things are going and how they should pray.

“Publish His glorious deeds among the nations. Tell everyone about the amazing things He does.” — Psalm 96:3 (NLT)

Killam, Jim, and Lincoln Brunner. Go Tell It: How—and Why—to Report God’s Stories in Words, Photos, and Videos. Chicago: Moody, 2014. Print.

Go Tell It: How—and Why—to Report God’s Stories in Words, Photos, and Videos may be the help stymied writers need.  Written by missionary journalists Jim Killam and Lincoln Brunner, it offers practical advice and clear explanations and is suitable for novice, developing, or experienced writers. It is available from such sellers as in print ($13.95) and e-book ($10.99) formats.

The book was recommended to me by friends at the Evangelical Press Association when I began transitioning back to journalism from teaching high school. I found it to be a good reminder and have used it in writers’ workshops for our fellow SIMers. It would be a good resource for mission offices and guest houses, as well as for individuals and families serving in any context.

“We’ve written this book because we believe there’s a never-ending supply of powerful stories out there – stories that aren’t being reported well, if they’re being reported at all,” the authors state in their conclusion.

Part of the book’s strength comes from its clarity and accessibility. Killam and Brunner explain their points in plain language and have included numerous anecdotes, examples, and photographs for illustration. They are often self-deprecating, discussing their own mistakes, such as wandering irresponsibly around an unfamiliar city unguided and winding up at a Hamas rally.

The book consists of eight chapters. “If God Says He Loves You, Check It Out” introduces writers to the importance of pursuing truth and verifying information. “Crossing the Line” deals with preparing for and crossing cultural or geographic boundaries to get stories and with handling sensitive information carefully. “The Unvarnished Truth” explains the ethics that Christians must especially model in sharing stories. “The Story” coaches writers in identifying a strong focus for each piece. “Interviewing” gives practical advice for helping others speak openly. “The Scenes” deals with using details to help readers feel present and involved. “The Pictures” gives invaluable advice about improving photography, and “The Movies” does likewise for video and audio work.

“The church needs great storytellers. We’d remember so much better what God has done for us, and we’d be slower to lose our trust in him and turn to what have become our own golden calves: safety and comfort.” – the authors

When Luke wrote his gospel, the tools of journalism were essentially five senses, two feet, and a quill, and yet he utilized them to prepare an orderly account for those lovers of God who were not able to witness Christ’s deeds themselves. Today, God has provided us with technologies that can help us bring people even closer to the good news of His work among the nations; being good stewards requires that we learn to use such tools effectively and artistically.

Please pray:

  • that those engaged in any work in God’s name would represent it and Him favorably, diligently, blamelessly, and effectively
  • that news and stories of God’s work through people and ministries would bring more into relationship with Him
  • that those reading would be moved to pray faithfully and to consider all aspects of God’s will for their involvement in His work
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