Ten ways to go about writing the story of your church

John Roxborogh

 1. Make a start today.

 Keep a folder, notebook, photograph album etc., as a place where from now on you are going to keep clippings, stories  and photographs. Put a note on the outside so that if anything happens to you it will be passed on to the church!

 2. Find a task that is possible for you to accomplish.

 Can you write a small piece for the church bulletin or annual report? It may be worth writing about just one aspect of your church, or just one time in its life, or even just one particular issue that was of concern at one point.

 3. Make sure that the location of your church records is known.

 A list of the location of minute books, correspondence files,  photographs and other important documents is important.

 4. Teamwork.

 Get together with others! Learn from and encourage one another.

 5. Ask your own questions.

 Make a list of things you would really like to know from and  about the past.  A good guide to what will be interesting to others is what is interesting to you.

 6. Find out what has been written already.

 Read it carefully. What gaps are there? What questions still need to be answered? Are there inaccuracies? Has something been just written down without realizing that it is important? What new things can you see in old information? What sort of writing was it? Who was the author? Who was the audience? How have the needs for the story changed?

 7. Discover sources that have never been properly studied before.

 Sometimes magazines, annual reports and church bulletins, have never been looked at carefully. Are there some old correspondence files? Has anybody consulted the national archives, your church head office, the files held by a local newspaper? When writing to former ministers and members for a letter for a jubilee publication be sure to ask them some specific questions about the church in their time and if they have papers which could be copied for research.

 8. Talk to older members of the congregation.

 Interview people about their own life and their involvement in the church.

 9. Tell the story you are discovering as you go along.

 Talk about your discoveries. Check your ideas with others. Arrange to speak to different groups in the church.

 10. Send copies of what you write to church leaders, libraries and archives.

Believe it or not, others are interested in what you are doing! Even if you writing is not published, it will help others understand the story of the church in your place.

See also: More ideas for writing the story of your church
and Eighteen things to include in the story of your church.