Recently, a friend posed a couple of questions to a group of writers for a workshop she was preparing. The idea sprang from something she’d heard at a conference when the speaker asked (my paraphrase), “If Jesus asked you to write a book for the lessons the act of writing (and God, through the act of writing) would teach you and then asked you to put that manuscript in a drawer, never to see print, would you write it?” She thought it a wonderful question, if doing so didn’t mean she would starve for lack of income.
Ah, do I write for Jesus or do I write for money? Is this my ministry or is this my vocation? Yes. Both. All. And therein lies the struggle.
Here are the two questions she asked and my answers:
Why do you write for the Christian market? Ministry, entertainment, or both?
It is both for me. I wrote 30 books in the general mass market, and God very specifically called me out of that career and into a new one of writing for Him. But my goal is always to entertain my readers. I am not writing them a sermon. I am telling them a story which, hopefully, will also reveal some truth to them.
What do you consider the criteria for a book to be considered “Christian”?
A book can be inspirational and/or educational and/or the best book you’ve ever read without the author naming the name of Christ anywhere between its pages. But I don’t believe a book can be considered “Christian” without naming His name, even if it’s written from a biblical worldview.
However, there is a very wide field to play on under the banner of Christian fiction. And naming His name does not mean being preachy or heavy handed. “Gratuitous Christianity” is bad writing just like gratuitous violence or gratuitous sex or gratuitous anything. The Christian plot thread must be an integral part of the story just as any other plot thread must be.
When you close the cover after reading the last page of a Christian novel, what is it about a book that leaves you feeling the most satisfied?