Submissions

What writers should know about the Christian Leader

Christian Leader is the official bimonthly publication of the U.S. Conference of Mennonite Brethren Churches (USMB). It is sent to about 9,800 USMB households in the United States and to others who wish to receive it. The magazine seeks to inspire, inform, educate and challenge church members and attendees, as well as to provide a “kitchen table” around which our diverse denomination can gather.

Our readers are primarily adults, young and old, married and single, of all levels of income and education, of many vocations and professions. They are active in urban and rural USMB congregations.

Who writes for the Christian Leader

We give preference to writers who are from North American Mennonite Brethren congregations, ministries and educational institutions. We welcome articles by writers from within the Anabaptist and Mennonite family of denominations.

Articles by Mennonite Brethren and those from other Mennonite writers that focus on personal experiences are encouraged. Please do not submit personal testimonies or stories unless you are a Mennonite Brethren or Mennonite writer.

We publish a limited number of articles by writers with no connection to the evangelical Anabaptist community. Freelance writers most often contribute articles to our feature department. We recommend that freelance writers review articles posted on this website or read a printed CL before submitting a query.

Columns

Writers interested in contributing an essay for one of our standing columns should contact the editor for details.

Testimony: Stories of transformation and ministry written in first person

In My Humble Opinion: Opinion essays on a single topic

Along with your essay, please send an electronic color photo of yourself and your e-mail and mailing address. Please include the name of your home church and information relevant to the topic on which you are writing.

Feature Department

The CL feature department is where faith intersects with daily life. We are looking for articles that highlight our USMB core commitments — evangelism and church multiplication, intentional disciple-making and leadership development — as well as networking and our Anabaptist and evangelical distinctives. We desire to also offer articles of interest to readers in all stages of life and to address contemporary issues of faith and life.

Core Commitments

Evangelism/church multiplication

Intentional disciple-making

Leadership development

Networking

Anabaptist/evangelical distinctives

General Topics:

Healthy marriages and families: parenting, blended family, marriage, caring for aging parents, living as a single adult

Faith in the workplace: vocation and calling, sharing my faith

Social issues: homelessness, poverty, abortion, domestic abuse, additions, immigration, racism, etc.

Biblical exposition: biblical or theological treatment of a doctrine or Scriptural passage

Culture: social networking, role of sports and entertainment, materialism

Christian disciplines: prayer, Bible reading, simplicity, evangelism, etc.

Calendar events: church year celebrations such as Advent, Christmas, Lent and Easter; other calendar celebrations such as Thanksgiving, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Black History Month, Memorial Day, etc. (Please submit seasonal articles at least six months in advance.) 

Writing Guidelines

Please note that the following guidelines apply to feature articles and columns only, not to news stories. Please contact the Christian Leader editor if you have a news story idea.

  • In general, use a warm, conversational tone. Feel free to use contractions and other informal grammatical devices. Write to an 8th-grade reading level, and use short sentences (an average of 20 words). Craft a strong opening paragraph that will grab readers’ attention.
  • The Bible and Christian principles should underlie the articles, but they should not sound preachy. Articles should support our Anabaptist and Evangelical theology.
  • Use stories, anecdotes, examples and numbers to support your thesis. Stories and examples prove your point more effectively than several paragraphs of abstract argument. As much as the topic allows, make the essay personal—bring persons or groups or yourself into it. In this way, show the reader how what you are saying makes a difference.
  • Write for the popular audience, not for your colleagues, ministers or other professionals. Avoid jargon. Don’t forget that your audience includes people who are seeking and who are new to Christian faith as well as longtime Christians.
  • Criticize constructively where it is helpful and include remedies when possible.
  • A Christian Leader article should take a point of view; it should advance an arguable thesis. It should challenge readers to reconsider their own thinking.
  • We prefer that you use the New International Version (NIV) of the Bible. If you quote from another version, please indicate which one.

Other Things to Remember

Length: Most Christian Leader feature articles range in length from 800 to 1,200 words while columns are typically 550 words. If you’re writing a solicited article, you’ve already agreed on a word length with the editor who called you.

Focus: State the main idea clearly so that readers recognize the significance of your article. It’s best to include a “nut graph” early on—an informal thesis statement that lets readers know what they can expect from the article.

Subheads: Use subheadings at appropriate points to indicate shifts in thought and to signal major sections.

References: Do not footnote; instead, make references parenthetically in the body of the article. If you use names, please include first and last names and titles or descriptions to identify the individual whenever possible. If you quote from a book, please include name of publisher and year of publication along with author name and book title.

Author ID: Please include your name, address, occupation, expertise and church affiliation. Provide any additional information you think may help us identify you to our readers. Please provide a head/shoulders photograph of yourself.

Submission: We prefer that you submit your article via email. Our email address is editor@usmb.org.

Payment: We pay upon publication. We generally buy “first-time rights” for the original manuscript, whether the article has been assigned or comes to us unsolicited. This includes posting the article on our website.

We publish very few poems and fiction stories.

Christian Leader reserves the right

  • To make editorial changes. The editor will edit for spelling, punctuation, conformity to Christian Leader style, length, cohesiveness and logic, factual accuracy and grace of expression. At the same time, we seek to preserve the author’s voice and integrity of the original manuscript as much as possible.
  • To contact you and request changes and rewrites as needed.
  • To reject any manuscript after editors have considered it carefully.

To contact the editor

Connie Faber
editor@usmb.org
Box 155
Hillsboro, KS 67063