By Jim Nieman
Today is David Faust’s 25th anniversary of writing a weekly column focusing on God’s Word and Christian faith.
On this date—July 28, 1996—Faust’s first column appeared in the pages of The Lookout magazine. Since then, a quarter-century has passed and Faust has continued to write a column every week . . . approximately 1,300 in all (that’s one column for every word of this article).
“In a way, what I do isn’t unusual,” Faust says. “Many other preachers and Bible teachers produce Scripture-based lessons week after week, year after year. . . . Putting together my weekly column is a lot like writing a letter to my friends or preparing a sermon for my congregation.”
Faust, 67, began writing the column when he became editor of The Lookout magazine. A few years later, in 1999, Faust left to become senior minister of East 91st Street Christian Church in Indianapolis, but incoming Lookout editor Shawn McMullen asked him to continue writing. Over time, Faust’s column transitioned from being “The Editor’s Desk” to becoming a complementary piece—“the Application”—for the weekly Bible lesson, but it has never ceased to be a labor of love.
“Writing has never been my primary vocation,” Faust says, “but I view it as an extension of my ministry—and I’m grateful that my wife, Candy, and my employers over the years have encouraged me to keep writing. For me, writing is a ministry tool, a God-given assignment, an enjoyable hobby, and a bit of hard work all rolled into one. If I didn’t do it . . . I would probably feel some sort of withdrawal.”
‘A NORMAL PART OF MY LIFE’
Faust has developed a methodology for writing his columns.
“The weekly deadlines are unrelenting, but I’m so accustomed to the process that it’s just a normal part of my life,” Faust says. “I grew up on a dairy farm. Dad used to say, ‘No matter what else is happening, the cows have to be milked.’ That’s what writing has been like for me.”
And so, no matter his mood, no matter his role or position (editor, educator, or minister), and no matter his circumstance (working, vacationing, or recovering from illness), he has written the column.
“Writing weekly is a bigger challenge than it may appear at first glance,” says Mark A. Taylor, retired editor of Christian Standard and former publisher of Standard Publishing. Taylor is who hired Faust as editor.
“Newspapers recruit substitute columnists for the weeks their regulars are on vacation. But we’ve never done that with Dave,” Taylor says. “Week after week after week he has produced copy to challenge and encourage and teach. He does it for Christ. He does it for you, his readers who discover insights into God’s Word and God’s will every time you turn to another column he’s written.”
“The discipline has been good for me,” says Faust, “because it compels me to examine my life experiences through the lens of Scripture. Hopefully, readers connect when I describe how Scripture relates to the ups and downs of leading a church, sending kids off to college, celebrating the birth of a grandchild, dealing with a loved one’s disability, or grieving the death of a parent.”
Faust has experienced all those things. He and his wife have three children and several grandchildren. In addition to writing the column and serving as a senior minister and church planter, Faust taught at Cincinnati Christian University and later served as president of that institution from 2002 to 2014. He also was president of the North American Christian Convention in 2006. For the past seven years he has worked as senior associate minister with East 91st, and for the last five years he also has been helping with Connection Pointe Christian Church in Brownsburg, Ind.
SOURCES OF INSPIRATION
“In my own Bible reading, I constantly watch for interesting phrases and application angles.”
He once saw a sign on a truck that said, “Final Mile,” which inspired a column about preparing to die. Another time, a church leader mentioned his congregation’s “stakeholders,” and Faust thought he said his church had “stay colders.” The result was an article about spiritual apathy.
“Over the years I have scribbled article ideas on restaurant napkins, church bulletins, airplane boarding passes, gas station receipts—even on the palm of my hand.”
Faust typically writes the columns on Friday mornings.
“Often, I go to bed on Thursday night telling the Lord, ‘I have no idea what to write about this week!’ Many times, though, I wake up on Friday morning with an idea, and by noon I have written a first draft, which I rewrite several times over the weekend. I try to send the finished manuscript to the editor by midday Monday, and then on Thursday night the whole process starts all over again.”
The resulting columns are clear, concise, and edifying, offering insights into God’s Word and helping increase the readers’ appreciation for it. The columns are accessible to people no matter where they are on their faith journey.
“David has been graced with a God-given gift of making normal circumstances, nature, and experiences applicable to the Scripture text being studied,” says Ron Macy, shepherd/leader of the Seekers class at Christ’s Church in Mason, Ohio, where Faust served as an interim minister many years ago. Macy says Faust’s well-crafted columns are filled with ideas to stimulate the reader. Faust’s column is a key reason his class uses the The Lookout-branded curriculum.
CHALLENGING . . . BUT ENCOURAGING
“I’m privileged to be the first to read his column each week,” says Christian Standard editor Michael C. Mack. “My comments back to him are usually something like ‘excellent as usual.’”
“Dave’s applications never fail to help participants do more than just read and listen to God’s Word, but to ‘do what it says,’” says Mack, quoting James 1:22. “Countless people have received God’s blessing because of Dave.”
“I don’t mind challenging people, but I try to maintain an encouraging tone,” Faust says. “I never want my readers to be bored, confused, or discouraged because of what I have written.
“Before preaching a sermon or writing an article, I usually ask, ‘If I were on the receiving end of this message, would it grab and hold my attention? How does this biblical truth apply to me, and why does it matter?’”
TRYING TO STAY AHEAD
During his years as editor, Faust worked with “one of my heroes of the faith, Orrin Root . . . a godly, studious man” who was a column writer for The Lookout.
“When I visited him in the hospital a few days before he died at age 98, Mr. Root spoke from his bed and told me, ‘Don’t worry, Dave, I won’t miss my deadline!’ He had written his columns four months ahead, so after he died, we continued to publish his work until a new lesson writer [Sam Stone] could take over.
“Altogether, Mr. Root wrote his weekly column for 54 consecutive years, and that’s a record I doubt anyone will ever match. After 25 years, I’m not even halfway there!”
Call it a coincidence, if you like, but would you care to guess how far ahead David Faust is in his column writing?
To help celebrate David Faust’s 25th anniversary, starting tomorrow and over the next six days, July 29–Aug. 3, we will be sharing some of his favorite columns, a new favorite posted each day. Of course, we also post a new “Application” column by Faust each Monday to complement The Lookout “Bible Study” prepared by Mark Scott and “Discovery” questions prepared by Michael C. Mack. All of these features are located in the “+The Lookout” section of ChristianStandard.com.
Jim Nieman serves as managing editor of Christian Standard.