How to Write Effective Christian Poetry


Christian Poetry as Evangelism

Writing Christian poetry is a powerful and effective way to share your faith. It is a way to reveal inner thoughts and convey your passion and conviction. God has long used poetry as a vehicle to inspire faith. Approximately one-third of the Old testament is written in poetry.

Poems can be used as a witnessing tool and a way to express your creativity. Have you noticed that many individuals would be willing to read a heart-felt poem from a friend even if they are not yet willing to hear a sermon? Open mics around the country welcome poems on all topics. Churches have gatherings or Sunday morning bulletins and publications where sharing poems would be appropriate. There are various poetry contests that offer an opportunity to be published.

So let’s do it. Here are some tips to get you inspired.

Pray. Write. Repeat.

Pray: Words like “Mercy and truth are met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other” (Psalm 85:10) don’t get written during commercial breaks in a Law & Order episode. Still your mind. Ask that the Holy Spirit empower your words. The best ideas for writing spring from moments of meditation, prayer and praise. The best poems transcribe conversion experiences, miracles, healings, experiences with God, dreams, visions, triumphs over adversity, theological insights or prophetic inspirations.

Write: Write often, collect words, phrases, similes and metaphors that strike you and stash them away for future poetic use. As an exercise, write the first three words that come to mind. Enjoy their feel in your mouth as you say them aloud. Allow the words to spark visual images. Create connections between them. Write.

Break the rules: Christian poetry allows you a unique way of putting words together. Order words as you see fit. End sentences. Wherever you want to. Compare the incomparable – how is a garbage can like a diamond, a pillow like a sunset? Forge a new path with words and make it so slick with your passion that the reader can’t help but slide into your thinking.

Explore: Try different perspectives. Write the imagined thoughts of a Bible character. Write a poem to the Apostle Paul, or a persecuted underground church in North Korea. Write with righteous anger or holy tenderness. Respond to a Bible story or write your own Psalm. Use different forms. Try rhyming or not rhyming. Try Synonymous Parallelism: One line strengthens, develops, reinforces or repeats the line before it. “Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity / And cleanse me from my sin.” (Psalm 51:2) Use Antithetic Parallelism: The thought of the first line is clarified through contrast. “The young lions lack and suffer hunger / But those who seek the LORD shall not lack any good thing” (Psalm 34:10)

Get all of your senses involved: Tell us what joy tastes like. Show us the transparent smoke as it rises from the altar in your vision. How does the incense smell? Use metaphors and similes. “As an eagle stirs up its nest/ Hovers over its young … So the LORD alone led him. … ” (Deut. 32:11-12).

Be Specific: Clarify your focus. Be as observant as a microscope and give us the details. Don’t write that your life has changed. Describe a moment. Tell us about “the hour you first believed.” Describe it as if for a reader from a different planet. Take us there.

Christian poetry is your testimony

C. S. Lewis wrote: “Every poem can be considered in two ways–as what the poet has to say, and as a thing which he makes.”

Whether you are straight or gay, whether you are bipolar, young or old, janitor, pastor or homeless – you have something to say – a truth gained through your experiences with God that can be a blessing to someone else. You have access to words. Use them for God’s glory and make something beautiful.

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