March 31, 2010

A Christian Writer?

Many of you may have read yesterday's Seekerville post by Francine Rivers. If you haven't, hop over and read it, because it was amazing! What really struck me was Francine's explanation of the difference between a Christian who writes and a Christian writer.

Basically, a Christian who writes can write anything, whether it glorifies the Lord or not. They write for a market. A Christian writer focuses their work on Jesus Christ. He is central to their story. Christian fiction is supposed to stir up a longing for the real thing: a relationship with Jesus Christ. Of course, both want to sell books, but it is all about the focus. Not that one is better than the other, but it is a different calling.

I knew from the very beginning that I did not want to preach in my stories. I wasn't sure I wanted to write conversion scenes. Maybe that stems from being a preacher's wife and having a wall go up every time I am introduced to people as a "pastor's wife". I don't want to throw up walls. I want to break them down. I want to be real, flaws and all.

But is it good enough to write an entertaining story that is not centered on Christ? Shouldn't my heart's desire be to write with Christ in mind? Maybe my focus is not where it should be.

My friend, Pepper, is an encouraging soul. As I wrestled with this line of thinking, she had some wise things to say.  She says, "People are drawn to Him because of what they see in our lives - how they see HIM in our lives. We don't have to preach with words. His joy in your life will come out in your stories, even if you never quote a Bible verse."  She went on to say, "Just because a story doesn't have loads of 'preaching' in it, doesn't mean it still can't be life-changing. The acts of the characters and their transformation - the way they respond to their difficulties, should reflect Christ. Isn't that how it is in real life? What is it that Francis of Isisi wrote? "Preach the Gospel and if necessary, use words."


Isn't she smart?


I suppose, though, that if the Lord living in me shines through in my writing, then in some small way it IS Christ centered. Whatever we do, in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord, right?


So what are your thoughts? Is there a difference between a Christian who writes and a Christian writer? 

21 comments:

  1. Yes, definitely a different, and like Francine said, one isn't better than the other - it's just a different calling.

    I feel called to be a Christian Writer. I've tried to write uplifting stories before without Jesus in them, but they just don't work for me. The writing ends up being crappy and my passion wanes. So I feel I'm being called to be a Christian writer, not a Christian who writes.

    Great stuff from your friend Pepper, Sherrinda! REally great stuff!

    Oh, and an FYI, I think conversion scenes are becoming less and less necessary in the CBA.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Yes! Great difference!
    I've battled with that concept, too. I always thought that if I was Christian, I SHOULD write inspirational romances. But I feel my calling is more toward being a Christian who writes--at least for now.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I totally agree, sherrinda! You don't have to beat someone on the head with the BIble for your work to let Christ shine. If we are in an intimate, close relationship with him, and are seeking his will/guidance in our writing, I really think our closeness with him will shine out through our writing.

    For me, I've always strived to have Christ in EVERYTHING I do. I am not a Christian who writes. Not that it is bad, but for me, Christ should permeate everything I do. I am also a "Christian payroll-manager" because I don't separate my career from my life as a Christian, I seek to be an example for Jesus even where I work. I want me relationship with Jesus to define me, because it's more important than any other "title" I could be labeled with. God calls us to stand apart and shine our light into the darkness... not blend into the darkness.

    That said, I think we can do that without being preachy, without sounding pompous and too religious, as so many Christians fear lately.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Sherrinda, I've seen Francine's thing on this for a long time on her website. It's something I've wondered about as well.
    I think I'm a Christian who writes, but at the same time, I don't think I'll ever be writing a story that doesn't have a spiritual arc for the main characters and some kind of biblical truth as a premise for the story.
    But I know my motivation for writing, and it's career-based. Deep down, I wonder if that's wrong...but then I wonder how can it be? God expects us to work, right?
    It's tricky, for sure. So, does being a Christian who writes mean that the stories aren't about God? I don't know...
    LOL
    I think I'm rambling now, which means I still haven't sorted out my thoughts on this. Heh. Guess I'll read the comments... :-)

    ReplyDelete
  5. I like to think of my writing as my God-given ministry. If I pour my heart into my stories and show the struggles that my characters have in living out their faith, then hopefully that can minister to others who are having the same struggles. It's not "sharing the gospel message" or "preaching" but it's simply sharing real problems and struggles and then how my characters come to see God at work in their lives through those problems.

    I truly feel Christian writers are God's story-tellers. Remember that Jesus told stories to get a message across. We're like that in today's culture. For each of us, that message will take a different look and different meaning, but ultimately conveying His truth in some form.

    ReplyDelete
  6. I see Ms. Rivers' points. But I don't think a Christian should feel like writing they do for the secular market must have a gospel message. I've published several articles in secular magazines that I feel reflect my love for Jesus and others because they are kind and uplifting. Does this make sense?

    As a P.W. I feel the walls, too. Sometimes I don't like people to know I'm a P.W. I can witness better that way, if they think I'm just a "normal" person! LOL!

    I recently got angry when I shared something at a Bible study and one of the gals was impressed with it. The leader said, "Some of you don't know that Jeanette is a pastor's wife." I thought, "Wait just a minute!!! If I say something wise or helpful, it's not because I married a preacher--it's because Jesus is good."

    Okay, done with my rant. Thanks for giving me a platform!

    ReplyDelete
  7. Great post! This is something that I have been struggling with as well. I don't feel called to write Christian stories, but I am a Christian who writes. I am writing YA and I hope that even though my characters will go through struggles that real teens face everyday, I'm hoping that readers will see they handle it differently- even if they mess up, as we all do. This has been encouraging! Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
  8. I have thought about this often and most of my blog posts do not mention God but have His traits and heart interlaced. I do not want people to see me with bias but get to know where my heart is and ultimatley Whom. :O)

    ReplyDelete
  9. My goal is to write God-honoring stories about real people facing real struggles. People who need the Lord to help them through their trials, even though they may not realize that at the beginning of the story.

    When I first began writing, I thought I had to include a conversion story. I read them now, and they come across as preachy. These days, I hold much more to Pepper's view of things. Since I write stories for the inspirational market, many of my readers will be believers. They already have a personal relationship with the Lord. Like me, what they're after is seeing how faith plays out in one's life day-to-day.

    I attended a workshop led by John Olson early in my journey. He gave us so much I felt like I was getting a drink out of a fire hydrant. :) One of his many nuggets was that as a fiction writer, my primary focus is to entertain. If a person wants a how-to book on the Christian faith, they'll buy non-fiction titles.

    ReplyDelete
  10. I feel exactly the same way about my writing. I'm a "pastor's daughter", so I have the same difficulty there.

    ~Kendra

    ReplyDelete
  11. What great comments! Jeanette, I'm a P.W. too, but I'm also a university instructor & mom of five. Lots of times I don't mention to my students or collegues that my husband's a pastor until I specifically asked about it. Being in the secular community a lot, when I mention that my husband's a pastor, they sometimes place a stigma on me - or 'act' differently around me.

    I don't mind them being respectful, but I'm also a very transparent person. We ALL need Jesus, so why should I expect them to act like Christians if they're NOT, right?

    Anywho - sorry about that- tangent.

    I know for me that when I write my inspirational books there are moments I'll reread a scene and think, "Wow, Lord, that was all you. Without a doubt. It's way too beautiful to be mine." ;-) It's then I realize even more that writing is a calling. As a Christian writer or a Christian who writes - if we TRULY belong to God, it changes the way we write anyway.

    Just as Jesus went straight to the 'heart' of the matter in the situations of the Gospels, His concern is with our heart attitudes when we right. Whether we have our characters shouting Scriptures from the rooftops, or grace subtlely woven into our heroes actions - God's love changes our perspectives so write from a different perspective.

    Okay -sorry again - didn't mean to go long.

    Blessings,
    Pepper

    ReplyDelete
  12. I agree with Francine, there is a difference and that's okay. But for me, my faith spills over into everything I do. I know God called me to write and that makes creates Him as my focus.

    I posted about conversion scenes Monday. I wondered how many people included them in their stories. Interesting to see your thoughts here- thanks Sherrinda!

    ReplyDelete
  13. Nicole Baart wrote about this last year. Personally, I feel more like a Christian who writes, and I'll tell you why. Sometimes, I get the feeling that the Christian market calls for sugarcoating, even if to a very small degree. Growing up, things were rarely if ever sugarcoated for me. I've dealt with hard realities, even though I still tend to be pretty naive. I think it's important that I'm able to write about things the way I truly saw them or another person would really see them without having water down the reality of the situation, but still show how God has worked through the situation. I've seen the gritty, but I've also seen God work there, and that's what I want to convey in my writing, even if there are steps in between that are harsh. But that doesn't mean I don't want to write for God, because I do. I wrote a story once that was not God-centered in the least and my friends and supporters had to force me to finish it.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Oh, I love Francine Rivers and in fact our Bible study group will read her lineage of grace series this summer, along with Grace Walk and Crazy Love.

    Sigh. God created this world, the artists, the WORDS. His truth permeate SO MANY works that I prefer not to label things "Christian" and "secular."
    As A.W. Tozer says on this point,
    "It is my own belief) and here I shall not feel bad if no one follows me) that every good and beautiful thing which man has produced in the world has been the result of his faulty and sin-blocked reponse to the Creative Voice sounding over the earth."
    (The Best of A.W. Tozer, P. 24)

    To categorize or quantify writers as Christian or secular to me tries to box off a great and glorious God who has shown such brilliant work through Dumas, Hugo, Dickens, Austen, Kingsolver...oh, countless others who don't even consider themselves "Christian."

    God lives in me, works in me as Primary Author, whether I write CBA, ABA, NBA, XBA...

    Patti

    ReplyDelete
  15. Oh, Oh OH! I love this post! I write from a Christian world view but my work is secular by and large. BTW< I am a HUGE fan of Francine's.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Interesting discussion today. :-)

    I don't generally talk religion - I prefer to live it, and only speak to it directly when someone asks, and it can be one on one. I do consider myself a Christian, and have very strong, deep religious beliefs.

    I also write very steamy romance, with nary a spiritual message to be found.

    I don't consider myself a "christian who writes" anymore than I consider myself a "secular artist". I'm a writer, plain and simple. And you know what I consider people who write inspirational romance, or religious fiction?

    Writers. Just writers. :-)

    ReplyDelete
  17. Hi Sherrinda -

    I'm more of a Christian writer by Francine's definition. By the way, her explanation is the best one I've seen to date.

    While I agree that our lives speak of our relationship with Christ, we're also to be His witnesses by our words.

    In the early days of film, you had pictures. Subtitles were necessary to explain the action. Pictures alone did not cut it.

    For me, I witness in a matter of fact way, sharing my life with others and making no bones about what He's doing in my life. I'm not pointing a finger at them or beating them over the head, but sparking curiosity so they'll ask questions.

    I do have a conversion scene in both my books, but I think I succeeded in making it realistic.

    Blessings,
    Susan :)

    ReplyDelete
  18. I agree. I know there are so many Christian writers out there who see their writing as a ministry - a way to use a gift to show Christ. My hearts desire has always been to make a difference with my writing. God bless all you out there who want to reach others with words.

    ReplyDelete
  19. I've definitely found Christian fiction in the general market. It's just hidden, but displays the same truth. A rare find, but a great one. I love it when that happens.

    I haven't seen Rivers' post, so I'm going to check it out. Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
  20. I am a Christian who writes. My stories never preach and they deal with all kinds of people and situations. I don't purposefully avoid anything but I write what I'm passtionate about and what I am given to write. The stance of the believer probably comes through more strongly when just telling a story driven by the characters. I would invite anyone interested to check out my new release, Angela 1: Starting Over, the first of three books set in a coastal Texas high school. if interested, just click on my name and follow the link to my website. You can also search my name on YouTube. Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
  21. Great stuff from your friend Pepper, Sherrinda! REally great stuff!
    post free classifieds

    ReplyDelete

Thanks for stopping by my blog!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...