A Book Loved By Everyone Hasn’t Been Written

There is no such thing as a book everyone likes and this problem is only magnified if it covers religion, politics, sports or anything else where people are deeply divided.

If you think you are going to write a book, which unites all Christian believers worldwide, you better take a deep breath and realize no matter what you write, you will have detractors.

While the Bible is the Holy Spirit-inspired written “hub” around which all believers unite, it is also a lightning rod of controversy among many Christians. We first argue over specific Bible translations then we get into details about what the Scriptures are trying to tell us regarding various issues. That’s when the real divisions among us reveal themselves.

The assumption of the statement “preaching to the choir” is the churchgoing community is an easily reached, agreeable audience not worth the effort because they are already aboard the train.

It’s a myth.

Christian authors find the better their books sell, they become a bigger target for disagreement and critics. Evidently, some seem to feel if a Christian book sells a lot, it must have something wrong with it theologically.

Some examples from the recent past:

 The Prayer of Jabez by Bruce Wilkinson sold close to ten million copies, but had a number of detractors within the church.

The Shack by William Paul Young sold twenty million copies, but many churches and leaders spoke out against it. Some Christian retailers would not carry it.

The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren sold over thirty million copies, but not every church or Christian leader liked Rick’s approach.

The Left Behind fiction series by Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins sold over 65 million copies, was criticized for its portrayal of the end times events by various segments of Christianity and theologians.

Name any prominent current best-selling Christian author and there is a list of critics and retailers who will not endorse what is taught and won’t sell their books, respectively.

It is impossible to publish a Christian book accepted by everyone.  So don’t worry about trying to write one. And don’t be disappointed when critics appear.

Good news:  Prominent person has agreed to review your book.

Bad news: They dislike it and are going to tell everyone specifically why on their blog once your book is on sale.

And you were so excited when review copies were finally sent out.

Even though you might be preaching to the choir, you quickly discover not all choirs are singing the same song.

Disagreements about creation to the last words of Revelation occur every day among Christians. (If you want to guarantee really angry responses from readers, quote a lot from the apostle Paul’s writings.)

Marriage roles, money, success, politics, health, race, raising children, worship styles, preaching styles, social justice and the work of the Holy Spirit in one’s life, as well as many other issues can generate polarized responses from within the church community.

Even though we might never directly express it, Christian agents or publishers reject some book proposals because they disagree with the author’s position on some issue. We may say, “This isn’t my cup of tea” or “It’s not part of our current plan,” but sometimes it means, “I disagree with you and want to avoid an argument.”

Christian writers need to understand they are writing controversial material, which will elicit a variety of responses, some angry, from fellow Christians, or at least those identifying themselves as Christian.

Write with eyes wide open to the effect of your words. Be humble enough to acknowledge some may disagree and those critics might not be hell-bound at all.

Not only should you feel deeply about your mission to write, but you should also be prepared for the response, which can be a combination of support, encouragement and kindness, but also anger, discouragement and unkind words, not to mention condemnation.

There will be days you won’t enjoy engaging with your social media. It’s a messy life, this world of ours.

And this doesn’t even begin to address the issue of writing to non-church people.

 Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong. (1 Corinthians 16:13 NIV)

 Instead, you must worship Christ as Lord of your life. And if someone asks about your Christian hope, always be ready to explain it. (1 Peter 3:15 NLT)

 

20 Responses to A Book Loved By Everyone Hasn’t Been Written

  1. Avatar
    Deborah Raney January 31, 2017 at 5:10 am #

    This is a great article, Dan, but I had to laugh at the subject line that came into my inbox: A Book Loved By Everyone Hasn’t Been Written by Dan Balow
    (to which I thought, hmmm…no, such a book hasn’t been written by Dan, or anyone else for that matter. 😉 )

    Seriously though, this is an excellent reminder that none of us are writing for everyone. We need to think of our particular audience, and not worry about those audiences we weren’t intending to please!

    • Dan Balow
      Dan Balow January 31, 2017 at 7:02 am #

      Replace “Everyone” with “Anyone” and it would be accurate!

    • Avatar
      Laura January 31, 2017 at 9:23 am #

      I laughed at the same. Ha

  2. Avatar
    Colleen January 31, 2017 at 5:51 am #

    Loved this and needed to read it today.

  3. Avatar
    Beverly Brooks January 31, 2017 at 5:52 am #

    Excellent.
    And actually encouraging as we focus on writing – not approval of “everyone”.

    Thanks!

  4. Avatar
    Bobbie January 31, 2017 at 6:27 am #

    As writers, should we strive to please everyone?
    Jesus certainly did not please everyone.
    I am not saying we should strive to cause controversy, but we should strive to plant seeds of truth and pray that they will someday sprout.
    And, we should strive to please Jesus with how and what we write.

  5. Avatar
    Nicola January 31, 2017 at 7:56 am #

    Do you find that stories have a better chance at being loved by more people than more straightforward forms of communication? Redemption stories can wiggle their way into the coldest hearts if they are written well. Craft is the balancing point.

    • Dan Balow
      Dan Balow January 31, 2017 at 8:05 am #

      Unfortunately, nothing is above being critiqued for it’s theology and manner in which a person is redeemed. The Shack is a great novel of redemption and yet drew the ire of a lot of theologians and leaders.

      Many times, the people in the congregation love something and their pastors hate it!

  6. Avatar
    Jon Guenther January 31, 2017 at 7:57 am #

    My response to the title when it hit my inbox was, “That’s for sure!” Interesting post, Dan. I like how you often take a look at things from a totally different perspective on these subjects. Thanks for sharing.

  7. Avatar
    Katie Powner January 31, 2017 at 8:00 am #

    My high school Journalism teacher taught me that the best articles are ones that receive both positive and negative Letters to the Editor. She said that meant people were listening. The first article I had published in a major newspaper did exactly that and I clipped and saved both letters to show her. The negative letter didn’t discourage me because I felt like, even though someone disagreed, I had been heard.

  8. Avatar
    Lois Freeman Easley January 31, 2017 at 8:24 am #

    Thank you so much for this timely word. It puts a helpful objectivity on a hist of very subjective reactions. We need to expect these conflicts and look to the Lord more than each other.

  9. Avatar
    Rebekah Love Dorris January 31, 2017 at 8:52 am #

    Comforting words that make me squirm. Thanks for the reminder. I’ve been struggling with trying to please the whole world.

    Our pastor has said, “Know that for every person that loves you, there’s someone who hates you. And for every person that hates you, there’s someone who loves you.”

    Luke 6:26
    Woe unto you, when all men shall speak well of you! for so did their fathers to the false prophets.

  10. Avatar
    Joey Rudder January 31, 2017 at 9:27 am #

    Thank you, Dan. This reminds me to focus on God and His leading and not worry about writing to please others. As my Mom used to tell me when I was a little girl, “You can’t please everyone.”

    I think there’s freedom in that. Focus on God. He will take care of the rest. He will even supply the thick skin and armor I need. 🙂

    Thanks again.

  11. Avatar
    Jay Payleitner January 31, 2017 at 9:34 am #

    I’ve had the same parenting book criticized because it “didn’t have enough spiritual content” and it was “too religious.”

  12. Avatar
    Sheri Dean Parmelee January 31, 2017 at 9:55 am #

    Thanks for the heads-up on that one, Dan. I didn’t realize that a rejection by a publisher might actually mean that he or she didn’t like or didn’t agree with a book. Thank you for the insight!

  13. Avatar
    Loyd Uglow January 31, 2017 at 10:58 am #

    This is a good reminder, Dan, of a fact that we all probably realize but that we tend to ignore when it comes to our own work. After all, who could disagree with our ideas and approach?

    If Jesus said He would bring division, how can we expect unanimous acclaim for our writings?

  14. Avatar
    Patricia Reece Krugel January 31, 2017 at 1:06 pm #

    I read your post and received encouragement. Likening your words to a freight train engineer who sees the way clear, and orders ‘pour the coals’ to the engine, I’m moving ahead with a better prospective of what to expect.
    Speaking only for myself here, the knowledge ‘don’t expect all the Christian world to receive my writing with great enthusiasm’ has troubled me. Your words remind me we’re writing for Christ Jesus, and He will fight the battle.

  15. Avatar
    Carol Ashby January 31, 2017 at 2:47 pm #

    My prayer is that some of my international visitors to the Roman history site will be curious enough to get one of my books and start thinking about what it means to be a Christian after watching characters truly live their faith, even when it hurts. I’m hoping that will open up a real conversation through the website email access. Those conversations in real life often involve criticism, but that’s part of the challenge of sharing and I love it. Sharing the good news is exactly what Jesus told us to do, and he never promised a friendly reception.

  16. Avatar
    naomi vanliew February 1, 2017 at 3:44 pm #

    How refreshing and articulate… and realistic. It is so good to hear from someone who has the experience, position, and honesty to address our vulnerabilities!

  17. Avatar
    Gigi Murfitt February 10, 2017 at 9:14 am #

    I totally agree with this article but we must still do what God calls us to and trust the right person will read what we write.

    Love this end quote: Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong. (1 Corinthians 16:13 NIV)
    Instead, you must worship Christ as Lord of your life. And if someone asks about your Christian hope, always be ready to explain it. (1 Peter 3:15 NLT)

    Thanks!

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