Today I'm pleased to give you guest blogger Robin Lee Hatcher. She's a pal of mine--even if she doesn't read my books (she's a card-carrying member of the Big Honkin' Chickens' Club).
Robin began writing her first novel in 1981 and saw it published (with all its imperfections intact, she says) in 1984. Fifteen years and thirty books later, she followed God's call on her heart to write Christian fiction. In October 2006, her 50th book was released. A Carol for Christmas is a story about the desires of our hearts and how God wants to change and use them for His glory.
Discussions on Christian writer blogs and in email groups turn frequently to matters of quality, "writing real," reaching our audience. Said discussions frequently include complaints about what CBA publishers (and readers) will or will not accept in books published by them.
Some of those discussions can put a real twist in my knickers. Others challenge me and cause me to consider once again my audience, why I write what I write, what I feel called to do.
These discussions usually include comments regarding reaching the lost. What are seen as restrictions by CBA publishers (i.e. more graphic language) are also viewed as barriers for reaching those readers who don't know Christ. Accompanying this, there seems to be a disparaging attitude about writing for the Christian audience who makes up the vast majority of CBA readers. It's a negative attitude toward "preaching to the choir."
Since I published 30 books in the ABA before coming to the CBA, I know something about that attitude. It was a wall I built as I felt God calling me to a new commitment to Him, including in my career. "But, God, can't I reach more lost people with what little bit of gospel I can slip in to my secular books (read "Christian worldview") than I can writing for those who are already Christians? Isn't writing for the CBA preaching to the choir?" To which He answered, "Yes. And the choir is sick."
I so totally understand this. I was a born-again, on-fire-for-the-Lord, Jesus-Freak, carry-my-Bible-everywhere, living-for-God Christian in the 1970s and early 1980s. But I let the cares of the world ensnare me and I drifted, grew lukewarm. I was still a member of the choir, but I was a "sick" one. I've been one of the "walking wounded" in the body of Christ. I knew what a total screw up I was. God had a whole lot of teaching and healing to do in me, and He did it in amazing ways, beginning with Francine Rivers' Redeeming Love.
So when He called me to "write for the choir" I understood why. I'm part of the choir. I'm a flawed Christian. I need to learn constantly. Salvation happens in an instant; sanctification takes a lifetime. That's why I look forward to my pastor's sermons on Sundays and why I want to read Christian fiction and why I do Bible studies. It's why I pray and why I worship. Because I need to be constantly challenged and taught. I don't write fiction for the purpose of evangelizing the lost (although the Holy Spirit has used my books in that way a time or two). I write fiction to challenge and encourage and build up the body of Christ on their individual journeys of sanctification. I write about flawed believers and I write about the One who loves them.
Paul said, "But my life is worth nothing unless I use it for doing the work assigned me by the Lord Jesus -- the work of telling others the Good News about God's wonderful kindness and love." (Acts 20:24)
If God has called a person to write evangelistic fiction with the hope of winning souls for Christ, then that person should do so. If God has called a person to write "Christian worldview fiction" where truth and grace are demonstrated without naming the name of Christ, who am I to say that writer should not do so? But those writers called elsewhere should not disparage those who have been called to write "for the choir" in the CBA. After all, we are in good company. Paul wrote the epistles to the "choir," in order that they might be built up in Christ. He spent a great deal of time helping believers learn how to grow and mature in Christ.
Acts 18:23 says, "... Paul went back to Galatia and Phrygia, visiting all the believers, encouraging them and helping them to grow in the Lord." In Acts 20:28, Paul says, "And now beware! Be sure that you feed and shepherd God's flock -- his church, purchased with his blood -- over whom the Holy Spirit has appointed you as elders [and others as writers of Christian fiction]."
Paul didn't just evangelize unbelievers. He encouraged the believers and helped them to grow in the Lord. Then he encouraged others to feed and shepherd God's flock, the church.
I'm a writer who is called to create fiction about and for the body of Christ, and my life is worth nothing unless I use it for doing the work assigned to me by the Lord Jesus.
In the grip of His grace,
Robin Lee Hatcher