Friday Five Interview: Ginger Kolbaba

By Daniel Darling

Image of Ginger looking up and smiling.

After a couple of years of trying to get my work published and getting rejected (mainly because my writing wasn’t nearly good enough), in the Summer of 2004, I got a big break. Ginger Kolbaba, editor of Marriage Partnership, a magazine once published by Christianity Today, read an email query and said she liked my idea for a section for newlyweds titled “Work it Out.” I wrote a piece that shared our conflict over TV viewing. She accepted it and I felt like a million bucks. That piece helped launch my writing ministry. Well, Ginger and I have since become good friends. And today, she is still working for Christianity Today as editor of Christianity Today’s new online magazine, and manager of discipleship and women’s resources for Christianity Today. In Christian publishing for 14 years, she is former editor of Today’s Christian Woman and Marriage Partnership magazines. An accomplished book author, Ginger has written or contributed to more than 16 books, including her most recent novel series, Secrets from Lulu’s Café, which include Desperate Pastors’ Wives, A Matter of Wife and Death, and Katt’s in the Cradle.

Ginger also teaches and speaks across the country. She’s appeared on national venues such as CNN’s Nancy Grace and Court TV’s Catherine Crier Live, as well as Family Life Radio and Moody Radio’s Midday Connection.

She is a pastor’s kid (both her parents are ordained ministers) and is a summa cum laude graduate of Anderson University (Anderson, Indiana).

Ginger was kind enough to stop by for today’s Friday Five:

1) You’ve worked for CTI for a number of years in a variety of roles as editor of their publications. What changes have you seen in the publishing industry over these years?

Crazy changes! Print has, in many ways, taken a back seat to online publishing. Our company is really pushing ahead in digital publishing, for instance. It’s tough for us lovers of print to get the hang of it. But the message doesn’t change; the medium does.

Several things that online writing can accomplish that print doesn’t do as well:

(1) it’s “real time”—I can respond to something that’s happened the same day.

(2) truly global—I receive email from people literally all over the world who have read something that I’ve written or that’s appeared on our website/blog/digizine

(3) lives forever—once the print issue is done, it gets archived and nobody sees it anymore. But an article I’ve written or published years ago can still have amazing ministry value because people can continue to refer to it and forward it to others.

2) You are now editor of Kyria, the online women’s magazine at Christianity Today. Explain the purpose of Kyria and how it can help equip women’s leaders in the church.

The name Kyria comes from 2 John, in which the apostle John wrote to Kyria—the Greek word for chosen lady. I love that term.

Our ministry is to help women understand and embrace the idea that they have been chosen in Christ and called to influence others. So to equip women to do that, we focus on going deeper in our faith—such as by delving into spiritual disciplines/practices, and by challenging women not to be satisfied with superficial “good enough” faith.

I love what we focus on—it’s definitely helped me in my spiritual journey!

3) You’ve also written a few books, including some collaborations with celebrities. What is it like to help someone communicate their story?

It’s such a humbling, moving experience to help another person share the story that God has given them. Often people want to tell their story, but don’t know how to shape it in a way that changes someone’s life—after all, isn’t that the reason we write (to influence and change someone in some way)? I love being able to be part of that process.

4) You have also written a series of novels about ministry life. What inspired this idea?

It’s actually a three book series (Desperate Pastors’ Wives, A Matter of Wife and Death, and Katt’s in the Cradle) that I co-wrote with a good friend, Christy Scannell. I’m a pastor’s kid and have a heart for pastor’s families and everything they experience in the course of leading and shaping a church. They’re really on the front lines of the battlefield! So as a way to minister to these families—and to give people in their congregations a glimpse into life as a pastor’s wife—we wrote a humorous series, which follow the lives of three pastor’s wives in a small town in Ohio.

I’ve been amazed by how much response we’ve received. People in the church thank us for helping them understand how difficult that life can be. Pastors’ wives tell us how comforting it’s been to read about someone who “gets” it.

5) You’ve been an editor at a major publication for many years. What one piece of advice would you give writers looking to get published?

Don’t give up. It’s not about the writing talent (although that definitely helps!). It’s about the willingness to learn the craft and the business end of writing, and it’s about the ability to persevere. Research everything you can about the business—study writers’ guidelines, get involved in a writers’ group. Make connections. Ignorance of the business and taking rejection personally have stopped more really good writers than anything else, I think.