How often have you heard a writer say, “My book isn’t for church people. I mean, I don’t want to preach to the choir, I want to reach those searching for Christ.”
Not for nothing, but friends, who do you think is in the choir? Sure, some of the people sitting in the pews of any given church are life-long believers who know all they need to know about God and living a life of faith. I mean, surely there are people like that.
One or two, anyway.
But most of the people coming to church are more like you and I. They’re regular folks who want to follow Christ, to be an example for him in an ever darkening world, but who struggle.
With raising kids.
Well, fill in the blank. Suffice it to say many of us simply struggle. And so we make our beleaguered way to church on Sunday, looking for answers to the questions no one seems able to answer.
Why has my child come out as gay? Did God make her that way? Did I do something wrong?
Why is my marriage always a struggle? Why doesn’t God just fix my spouse?
Why am I losing my home? Doesn’t God love me any more?
Again, just fill in the blank. Being in church doesn’t mean life is all settled and we know the answers. Being in church means we’re—wait for it—seeking God. Some of us are saved, and some of us aren’t. Some who attend church are just trying to understand what this whole faith thing is about and why they should care.
And guess what? Your books and stories and messages hold some of the answers they’re seeking. More than that, the answers they need.
So please, preach to the choir. Write to the choir.
They need you.
I just love this post, Karen. Preach it, sister.
So true! LOVE IT!! Thanks for sharing, Karen. I think too many forget we don’t all have the same “mission” when writing. Eric Wilson and I had this conversation back in 2009. He said he was the guy on the front lines, fighting to bring people to Christ. Me? I saw myself as the medic back in the tent out of the line of fire, tending the wounded.
Ronie, I LOVE that analogy. My sister has the evangelism gift. She opens her mouth and people start rushing into churches. I could never do this. My gift is to build them up once they get there. You can see why I like your “medic.”
Amen! Amen and Amen!!!! Did I say Amen yet??? You hit the nail on the head with this one, Karen. This is a broken world and every stinkin’ one of us is broken in it. There are lots of people in churches teetering on the edge and need some encouragement, but they are too afraid to tell anyone for fear they will be seen as less faithful. That is where the fiction can be so helpful. Those people can find a “safe” place to process what’s going on in their lives and hopefully it will help them know they can open up to a fellow believer and deal with the issues that plague them. How do I know this? I work for a counseling office–a CHRISTIAN counseling office. There are many wonderful, faithful people dealing with some SERIOUS stuff, who need someone to come along side them and help them through the challenges this world presents!!!
I always get frustrated by these arguments that say we should write ONLY fiction that does this or does that. We are all called to DIFFERENT ministries–each important in their own ways. God chose each of us to a different purpose, though all for His Glory. It’s the Body of Christ–different parts working together as a whole. There is a place for all sorts of God honoring fiction in the world. One is not better than the other. It just has a different role in the work.
This choir member appreciates your word for today. Thanks!
Oh … you just hit a hot button for me! I hate it when people say we shouldn’t be preaching to the choir. Why? What is it about the choir that makes them less worthy of the preaching? Or too good for it, for that matter? The choir is PEOPLE and PEOPLE need the word of the Lord. Period.
/hopping off my soapbox
So true! We all need some good news! Maybe that’s why these non-fiction books sell like crazy? And guess who’s buying them? The choir!! (And a few of us who can’t sing but keep keep trying) 🙂
Interestingly, one or two “Christians” didn’t get my debut book. I overheard a conversation in church by a woman who married before she was a Christian. She told her friend she’d just “found out” God had the perfect mate picked out for her. Because she hadn’t prayed for a husband, she was going to divorce the one she had and go look for the new one.
After a Titus Woman talk with her, I thought if one person believed this others might. Thus, Chapel Springs Revival was born. My character doesn’t divorce her nubby, but she does go looking.
Two reviewers said she wasn’t a good Christian or hadn’t read her Bible. I laughed over those. Well duh! So many don’t. Or, thinking they’re on mission for what God wants them to do, they don’t look right or left, don’t get any input, but barge forward.
My books are for the choir, so I really loved this post, Karen. It’s a little validation I needed as I work on another. Thanks!
Karen, so very true. And it’s heartening to see more and more Christian fiction that indeed preaches to the choir…and to the visitors on the back row as well.
Another reason we need to preach to the choir is because, to be blunt, a lot of churches have turned their back on Christ. They’ve cherrypicked the Bible (often avoiding the Gospels!) to create something that doesn’t even marginally look like what Jesus came to do.
They have a good-times message to sell, to keep people coming back in hope, every Sunday. And when the good times fail to materialize, when they realize that God’s not an idol to me gifted and placated with money and prayers of a secret, specific form…they drift away.
They’re hurting worse than the pagans and the heathens, and they are the ones who are in danger of blaspheming the Spirit, in their disappointment and desperation.
They’re the ones we need to catch, as they walk sadly and blindly toward the cliff.
Woohoo! Just the encouragement I needed to stay the course I’ve begun. Just about to launch a new blog for my beloved target audience: the Choir. (And their watching friends.) Thanks, Karen!
Amen, Karen! Why do preachers prepare their sermons each week? People are hurting, confused, frustrated and weary even when their faith has been or is strong. So thankful I’m a member of a Bible believing church with a pastor whose sermons not only evangelize, but also speak to the hurting, weary hearts of his people. We write our stories for those same people. Christian fiction has been a life-saver for me this past year with all we’ve gone through. Picking up a book and seeing God’s love working in the lives of the characters lifts my soul to rejoice and be glad in the day the Lord has given me.
I don’t remember the source, but I love the description of the church as a hospital for sinners, not a museum for saints. If people won’t admit they’re sinners, how will they ever see they need a savior?
And how can we ever share what Jesus has done for us with someone who’s hurting if we create the impression that we’re so perfect we don’t need Him to save us, too?
I was talking with a colleague at a conference about fourteen years ago. He saw my cross (great way to open a door to someone starting a conversation about spiritual things) and commented on how his neighbor kept asking him to church. He thought it was because the neighbor thought he wasn’t a good person. I still remember the thoughtful look on his face when I told him that wasn’t it at all. His neighbor had found something wonderful that he wanted to share. It’s like knowing where there is a 5-star restaurant that is giving away gourmet meals for free, and all you have to do is show up and ask.
My goal in writing novels is to create stories that can encourage a believer to stay faithful even when it’s dangerous and her heart is drawn another way. I also want them to be exciting, romantic reads for the nonbeliever that follow one of the romantic lead’s realistic transformation into a believer. Encourage the choir and get people through the door into the back row. That’s my goal.
Great message today, Karen. Settles this for me today. I’ve always struggled with it. Love your heart. Always.
Yes! Preach to the choir. It’s the only way they’ll know how to mature in Christ.
Exactly! Thank you, Karen!
I wasn’t sure when I started out in fiction just what type of audience my books would “reach”, I only knew that I wanted to tell stories about real people facing real issues who encounter a real God in some believable way. Perhaps for some readers, it’s a totally new way, or a familiar but forgotten way, or even a way they had not encountered while “in the choir.”
Now that two of my books have reached various readers, I hear again and again from both the choir and those who just prefer clean romance/drama that many people appreciate and are encouraged by reminders of the love, power, and faithfulness of God…. while being entertained, of course. 🙂
I remember a speaker at a writers’ conference saying, “We meet someone at church and say ‘How are you?’ and she says, ‘Fine, how are you?’ and we reply ‘Fine,’ and we’re both hurting and no one knows it. Good article, Karen.
Great reminder. I often think, at least with fiction, that maybe we should be writing for a secular audience. Shouldn’t we already know about redemption, second chances and God’s love. Then read a book by Susan May Warren and realized I may know but I sometimes forget.
Thanks for reinforcing that thought.
Thank you, Karen. That is such timely encouragement for me. God bless.
I am not a fiction writer but I always read all the blogs on Steve’s Agency site. And I read all the comments, sometimes more than once. I always find something valuable. Right now I am getting a better understanding of why I’m interested in fiction but fit in the non-fiction group. I work projects of fact, visually in a creative folk art, architectual line design. That creative look is the fiction part. I think. More pondering needed on this.
Good points 🙂 although I think what we write is a matter of call. Paul writes in Ephesians 4:11 that God gave the church apostles, teachers, prophets, evangelists and pastors. I think these gifts can be reflected in different types of writers. The ones with pastoral and teacher hearts tend to write for other Christians to build up the body while the ones with apostolic and evangelistic hearts write for the unchurched. It’s a generalisation, I know, as we all overlap, but the core call we have is the thing that burns inside us. That call will overflow in our writing as the Lord enables.
Great post, Karen. I think many of us forget that we need to hear the gospel everyday as well as those who’ve never heard it.
I grew up in the church as a pastor’s daughter. I never could understand why there were always evangelistic messages when it was the same people who were there every week. People need more than a salvation message week after week, month after month, year after year. Ok, I’m saved. Now what? Preaching to the choir ought to be the inspiration to live out the Christian life where the rubber meets the road, in the nitty gritty of things we face on a daily basis. Most importantly -how to flesh out the Love Walk. How to deal with disagreements and offenses and get along with other people so the world will know we are Christians by our love and want to be part of it. Sadly there have been too many casualties and people who have left church because of the lack of love shown there. I’m no longer a “churchian” but I will always be a Christian. If there was ever a group that needed some illumination it’s the “choir”.