about Jon

Hi. I’m Jon.

I love reading “about” pages, because I want to know more about the writer who is giving me advice. I don’t like writing “about” pages because I’m afraid you won’t hear my advice if you know more about me.

I know.

We’ll start here. I’ve spent a lot of my life trying to find the right words (or the best words, or the most accurate words) to help people understand other people. I’ve got three degrees in communication, I’ve taught speech, I’ve written millions of words. And I’m still working hard to get things right (or best or accurate).

Nancy and I got married in 1983, after deciding to get married a week or so before we had our first date. We lived in Texas for a couple years and have been in Indiana since then.

Andrew, Kathryn, and Hope were born in Fort Wayne. Kathryn is buried here. Andrew lives on another continent, Hope and Dan live a couple hours away, and Ben (their son, our grandson) lives there, too.

I spent the first half of my career in higher education, first teaching communication, then working in administration.

I spent the second half of my career in churches, as an executive pastor. Which means I helped with facilities and technology and giving counsel and solving problems and working in the background.

I’m spending the third half of my career as a writer, hospital chaplain, consultant, adjunct professor, and resource for younger leaders.

I started writing from odd perspectives in fourth grade, turning in at least one assignment as a poem written on a paper towel, and completing college papers in one draft on a typewriter. (My undergrad GPA was not very good.) I did, however, manage to write a PhD dissertation titled, “The Rhetoric of Evangelization: A Study of Pragmatic Constraints on Organizational Systems of Rhetoric” at the University of Texas at Austin.

Since then, I’ve written best in short reflective pieces. I started blogging in 2005 and have written at 300wordsaday.com since 2009. I’ve written a bunch of books: collections of prayers, readers and journals for Lent and Advent, a guide for leading funerals, a conversation with Nehemiah, and a book to help people know what to say when someone dies.

I also run.

You can find me on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, linkedin

I write at 300wordsaday.com and findingwordsinhardtimes.com.

My books are at anewroutine.com and have a store at griefcard.com

For more about the work of a hospital chaplain, I wrote “The Sacred Work of a Hospital Chaplain.”

I’m a senior researcher with Arbor Research Group.

What I say here doesn’t necessarily reflect the official views of any of my employers.


Get monthly updates to help you with “Finding Words in Hard Times.”

You can contact me at jon dot swanson at socialmediachaplain.com

37 thoughts on “about Jon

  1. pastorlouise

    Hi Jon,
    I’m a pastor of a church too, and interested in utilizing digital technology to connect people with God, their faith, and one another. A mutual friend gave me the url for your website and blog, and I’m really impressed! You’re an effective communicator with a heart for the gospel of grace. Any suggestions for me? Thanks!


  2. bitesofbanter

    Hi Jon,

    I write a blog about being a young person going through life changes. Whether it be love, family or my career. I seek insight in everything and at times like this… it’s a very challenging thing to do. Especially at my age when materialism and an invincibility nature is extremely common.

    Thank you for your inspiring words.

    Bites of Banter



  3. Dave Kresta

    Jon — I just found your website via Twitter. You should seriously consider tweeting 140 char snippets of your daily 300 word posts on Twitter. You would likely get a lot more people reading your great stuff!

    Thanks for the 300 words!


  4. Brent Schlenker

    Hi Jon,
    I was just introduced to 300 Words from a blog post by Chris Brogan. He mentioned that he was not Christian but held up your blog as something/someone he wanted to brag about. I now have your RSS feed hitting my inbox. Most of my feeds are in a reader but a precious few are lifted up to my email inbox so that I am confronted with their message every day. Yours is the best and its a great reminded for me to stop and reflect on Jesus and strengthen my faith. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Frank Chimento


    Fantastic blog. Anyone reaching the “un-churched” and “un-saved” is worthy of support, prayer, encouragement and reverence… and you have mine.

    As Christians we have much work to do in order to reflect the love, grace and mercy of Christ in our society. Together with God’s leading, we can restore the soul of our nation and revive America.


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  7. Mark

    I like your blog, but I’m intrigued by the way you start your personal introduction;
    – pastor
    – ordained
    – doctor
    – follower of Jesus

    My short experience with the American version of “church” is that qualifications, seminary, titles (like pastor) and so forth, matter a great deal, yet are largely absent from 1st century church history.

    There also seems to be a reliance upon men with these qualification, seminary training, and titles, to do much of the work Christ left for all believers to undertake, work now paid for by said believers.

    I’m not sure this model is congruent with the church I read about in the Bible and the Church I experience every day.

    Thanks for the blog, though.


    1. Jon Swanson

      Thanks, Mark, for the comments. For a long time in my online involvements I didn’t tell anyone about my “job”. I almost never talk about my credentials. For the very reasons you say. However, when I wrote this introduction, I decided to come clean about what I do to get paid so that no one is surprised.

      What’s fun for me is that I don’t have any seminary training at all. What I’ve learned has been through study, conversation, and often, through writing here. The last thing that I planned to do was to end up on a church staff. But a decade ago, God didn’t leave much of an option for me.

      So I understand your concern. I’m pretty sure, now, that whether I got paid by a group of people or not, I would be a pastor.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Robert Mallon

    Hi Jon,

    I learned of you from our friend Matt Fagioli. Matt and I have been friends for about 12 years now and attend the same church.

    I just love what you’re doing here. We are very like-minded. I tend to see God in everyday experiences also. Matt has been on me to start a blog. Your’s is inspiring me.

    One day soon I hope to get to meet you. Until then, I will continue to enjoy your 300 Words!

    Thank you, and God bless you for obeying Him!
    Robert Mallon


  9. Mark Hunter

    Hi Jon.

    Thanks for your response. I’m glad you took my concerns in the spirit they were intended and it’s good to read your blog knowing that you’re truly called to serve as you currently are.


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  14. Perry Goh

    Dear Pastor Swanson,

    I liked your blog very much. I learnt your blog from Chris Brogan’s 101.
    I can’t write very well but I can express my faith through art and design.

    Do you have any suggestion for my blog?

    I want to touch more people just like you do.

    Thank you & God Bless

    Perry Goh


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  16. Andrew Bernhardt

    And what’s wrong with speaking of yourself in the third person? Jesus did it all the time (i.e. ‘The Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which is lost’). And Paul did it once also. It’s perfectly normal. 😉

    I enjoy your blog!



  17. Lisa Davis

    Hi (Pastor) Jon,
    Seems kind of like formal address to me. Too much coffee before bedtime kept me awake to read your blog. I should probably indulge in the elixir of life late in the day more often. Appreciate you! Lisa


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  21. Judith Gotwald

    Pastor: I think your online ministry is breaking ground in the 21st century church. I am inspired by the fact that you have no seminary training. I am a layperson, too.

    Our denomination abandoned our people. Our pastor just disappeared after meeting with the bishop. We went for a year or so with no pastor. Next, we were declared closed with no consultation. The bishop came to our church one Sunday “to talk” and had a locksmith hiding behind the building. We resisted.

    The idea was to discourage our people, provide them with no leadership so we would give up and relinquish our valuable property and endowment funds, creating an easy windfall for the regional body who just happened to be running a $275,000 deficit.

    But we just kept going and were growing our church (52 new members in less than a year).

    The people turned to me with my extensive “credentials” as a preacher’s kid, and I’ve been pastoring them as best I can for the last five years. No active pastors will talk to us. Some outraged retired pastors help as best they can.

    As a result of our resisting, our regional body sued me personally. The idea again was to get the “leader” out of the way. I have lived with law suits for five years with no end in sight. One suit ends, a new charge is made. Contempt of court, fraud, willful something or other. I’ve lost track. The courts don’t want anything to do with church cases, so I’ve had nowhere to turn.

    We took our ministry on line and it continues to grow. We have about 1500 readers a month and hear from Christians all over the world. But our neighbors want nothing to do with us.

    Your story of Nehemiah resonated with us. We faced the similar intrigue and trickery.

    I’ve found your online ministry comforting. Thank you.


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  23. Steve Jones

    Great souls make great writers. That is significant, because… my, what a great writer you have become! I’ll never forget sitting at the intersection of your life, on a bench at Saint Francis and watching as God drew a slow smile across your face.

    I’m not always sure what you’re drinking, but pour me a pint as well.:-)


  24. Johnf51

    I do agree with all the ideas you have introduced for your post. They are really convincing and can certainly work. Still, the posts are very brief for newbies. May you please extend them a bit from subsequent time? Thank you for the post. fdckccdcdabd


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  26. Equipping The Saints

    Your blog is very good; I thank you for what you do with it. You might find my blog to be of interest also. Blessings to you.


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