I have been reading your articles, and they have really been helping me with a profession I want to go into, and that’s writing. I have a question that hopefully you’ll be able to answer. People around me keep saying that writing is my ministry, but I view it as my business. Shall I view writing as a business or a ministry? Your help will be appreciated, thanks.”
This is a really good question I received recently – one I’ve often been asked, and that can confuse some aspiring writers. So I’ve decided to address this issue: whether writers should see their God-given talent as a ministry or as a business.
To answer this question, let’s look at the definitions of a ministry and a business. Taken from Google’s online dictionary, a ministry is ‘the spiritual work or service of a Christian or a group of Christians, especially evangelism’.
“A ministry of Christian healing”
|synonyms:||teaching, preaching, evangelism
“the life and ministry of Jesus”
The definition of a business is ‘a person’s regular occupation, profession or trade’.
|synonyms:||work, line of work, line, occupation, profession, career, employment, job, day job, position, pursuit, vocation, calling, field, sphere, walk of life, trade, craft|
Very often I see a lot of Christians disputing whether ministries should be making money. If you are in ministry, based on the definition above and on the life of Jesus, a minister shouldn’t be making a profit. The only acceptable thing would be to receive an offering/tithe to help pay for the church building, or when someone comes to speak, for example, to give a love offering. However, when you are running a ministry, with staff, buildings or events that need to be paid for, the Minister or Pastor also sees this as a profession, which is one definition of a business. This is why many church leaders write books, or use their other talents (like music) for profit, and why, a lot of the time, ministry and business co-exist.
If you want to write professionally, and you view your God-given writing gift as a profession, then you need to operate this gift as a business and not a ministry, as it will be your living. Many times I will tell people that The Authors Care Services Ltd is not a ministry; it is a business. It is even set up as business. Yes, I go by biblical principles; yes, I am passionate about my God-given talent, but this is my career.
If you view your writing as a business, then you need to get your entrepreneurial skills on, and run it as a business, as well as producing manuscripts that people want to read.
As an aspiring writer, if you want to write without making any profit from it, then you need to see your writing as a ministry. In this case, it would be better for you to self-publish your books, as publishers and literary agents – Christian or not – are in this industry to make a profit.
I have read a lot of aspiring authors tell me, in their query letters, ‘they are not looking to make money’; this is something God gave them to do. Agents and publishers don’t want to read this, so it would be better not to approach them with these kinds of queries. This is why many aspiring authors can get turned down. The truth is: this industry wants the business-minded, entrepreneurial authors – not the author, who doesn’t want to make a profit, nor sees this as their chosen career.
To conclude, it is down to you how far you want to take your writing gift. I pray that the definition and distinction between whether to view writing as a ministry or as a business is clear, and that it will help you make an informed decision whether this is a career path you want to follow or not.
With love, Vanessa