Thursday, April 2, 2009


How many words have passed from my fingers and through my mouth? I pondered that today.

When I began as a full time pastor in 1969 it was in the town of Smiths Falls, Ontario. Calvary Bible Church was the name of the congregation to which I was called. Perhaps 75 people attended church services on Sunday. It was customary for churches of some reasonable size and particularly churches with an evangelical and or fundamentalist theology to hold both morning and evening Sunday church services. The paid pastor was expected to preach at both of these public services. Wednesday evening was customarily viewed as Prayer Meeting Night. A loyal core of 8-12 people attended this gathering at which the pastor was once again expected to deliver a prepared study before the group prayed. During the five years that I pastored in Smiths Falls I also wrote a column in a weekly local newspaper called 'the Record News' which reached well beyond our town. Personal computers had not yet appeared to become the office necessities they are now. I wrote every sermon and article in long hand or typed them using a typewriter. Each sermon might be six pages typewritten single-spaced resulting in a word total 5000 words. In one year I processed 480,000 words in 96 sermons, 100,000 words in 48 devotional studies and another 52,000 words in 52 newspaper articles. I followed this same preparatory practice in my second church in Peterborough, Ontario where beginning in 1974 I served for seven years. During those seven years I began a Master’s degree program in Toronto, seventy-five miles away and this program took me five years to complete, and approximately 45 term papers and 475,000 words. I began writing monthly magazine articles at this time so throw in another 24,000 words annually. On to Toronto in 1982, specifically Scarborough and a church at which I pastored for ten years with the same commitment to two Sunday sermons and a mid-week message. Here the advent of a personal computer, primitive as they were, modified some of the tedium of handwritten material. Then the big move to the West and ten years serving a church in Cloverdale, British Columbia. During this time, our leadership team made a decision to operate with only a morning service. My spoken output was not minimized since we were a large enough congregation to require two morning services and that meant preaching twice. This was also a season during which I enrolled and completed a six year part-time doctoral program which may have required 210,000 words plus a 400 page thesis of 140,000 words. I also wrote the manuscripts for three books, one of them a children’s novel which may yet be published and these may be estimated at 100,000 words. Following the pastoral career I served for six years as a church denominational president during which time I was responsible for many articles, reports, booklets and research documents which I have to ballpark at 8 million words.

Perhaps thirty million words have flowed from my fingers but I have probably underestimated because I have not included all of my journal writing through the years, or the 500 words per blog entry here. 30,000,000 words written and seventy percent of them preached. That is the equivalent of 60,000 pages or 150 John Grisham size novels. That’s a substantial output.

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