Welcome, friends. My name is Zach, and I'm an author, preacher, and creator from New England. But mainly, I'm a light writer.
Which means that my calling is "writing into the light" - revealing truth and radiating hope in everything I do. The revealing truth part is the hard, often prophetic work of pushing past pretense within us and around us to get to the Real. And the radiating hope part is keeping Jesus - the Light - at the center of it all and focusing on the flourishing life he offers to us, our neighbors, and the world.
My hope is that you'll find more light for your life in what you read here. And if you're a writer, my hope is that you'll find inspiration to write into the light too.
A Little More About Me
So, here's my "official" bio, if you're interested:
Zach Hoag is an author, preacher, and creator from New England. Planting a church in one of the least churched cities in the U.S. (Burlington, Vermont), and pursuing ministry beyond that in a variety of spaces, Zach has learned a few things about the power of a deeply rooted life in Christ. Zach has found belonging in the Vermont countryside where he lives with his wife, Kalen, and their three girls. Find him writing at zhoag.com and follow him on Twitter @zhoag.
And here's my "unofficial" story:
It all starts with growing up in a ministry family and being connected to the life of the church for as long as I can remember. I embraced a sincere faith as a little kid, and a powerful sense of calling was planted deep within me during those early years, intensifying as I got older. This calling eventually led to my wife and I planting a church in one of the least churched cities in the U.S. – Burlington, VT.
Throughout the life of our church plant, I became passionate about seeing the church engage culture instead of escaping it, and embrace people instead of excluding them. We were an evangelical church, but my deepest desire was for us to include and impact the people of our progressive city. Out of that experience, I wrote my first book – about the gospel of Jesus and a TV serial killer named Dexter, no less! It really was the culmination of preaching week after week to connect the Word to the words of our cultural conversation.
Of course, as Bruce Cockburn sings, “Sometimes a wind comes out of nowhere, and knocks you off your feet.” Life has its darkness, its pain, its corresponding lament – another part of the story. As our church plant ended, an apocalyptic kind of season was triggered in my life, revealing deeply broken things in my past family and church experiences, and challenging the very foundation of my faith and calling.
In the midst of that season, when I was at my wit’s end, I desperately asked God what I should do next. I’m convinced he answered, “Just keep writing.”
And I haven’t stopped since.
My experience these last five years has seen both a progression of my faith and theology, and a re-centering of it all on Jesus, as my light writer journey has unfolded. And, my decision to listen and "just keep writing" has led to a two-book contract with Zondervan Publishers, the first of which is out now: THE LIGHT IS WINNING: Why Religion Just Might Bring Us Back to Life.
Here & Now
Here on this site, I'm writing and curating the Light Writers blog on calling, culture, and creativity. I have a newsletter about that, and a podcast too. I used to do a lot of opinion writing on church and politics here, but I'm mostly focused on doing that on Medium, HuffPost, and elsewhere now. If you're looking for a place to start, browse some of my more popular/influential posts here:
And now in my life, I am finding belonging, in a full-circle but brand-new kind of way, in the Vermont countryside where I live with my wife, Kalen, and three girls, Gemma, Pippa, and Willa (who are the joy of my life). We have come through that apocalyptic season after the end of our church plant, which brought on so many other endings as well, and we are inching towards genuine flourishing. It's right there on the horizon, and it can't come fast enough!
Part of the flourishing I'm finding has to do with living this new creative life, writing books and articles and making things on the Internet. For book publishing, I'm represented by the incredible Jenni Burke at D.C. Jacobson & Associates, and my editor at Zondervan Publishers is Stephanie Smith (check out her newsletter!). I'm very much looking forward to concepting and getting to work on my second book with Zondervan. And I have a driving passion for channeling my writing and creating skills into helping clients radiate their message online. I've worked with a growing number of writers, businesses, and ministries on establishing their website home base and navigating the brave new world of digital media. If you need some help in that regard, let's collaborate!
Not too long ago, at exactly the moment I was ready to hear it, God spoke to me again, this time through a TV detective (because obviously). He said, “The light is winning.”
And everything changed after I began to believe that.
So, thanks for joining me here as I continue to write into the light. If you want to, go ahead and jot this line down before you leave – because it’s the truest thing I know: