Tuesday, November 13, 2018

It’s Time to Stop Preaching—and Writing—to the Choir


by Cindy Sproles @CindyDevoted

We’re preaching to the choir and it’s time to look past that and venture into the world. Why? It’s easy. The world needs us. People outside the church, need to be reminded of who Christ is.

It’s time Christian authors begin to focus on the general market non-Christian reader and start to gently teach a Christian World View. 

The world has lost the absolutes of Christ. According to an older Barna poll, 80% of the children growing up in the 1950s and 1960s had attended church. They knew who God was. The coin has flipped and now, 80% have no idea who God is. The children of today, Generation X, Millennials, and Gen Z need to know Christ and Christian authors can reach them if they approach it in the right manner.

Preeminent among Christ’s commands are these three: 1) to love God with all our hearts, souls, minds, and spirits. 2) to love our neighbors as ourselves  3) to go into the world, teach, and make disciples.  And we can’t do that if all our work is focused inwardly. At some point we have to open the church doors and meet the world.

The question would be – what’s our holdup?

Here are a few ways you can begin to write to the general market and instill the absolutes of who God is.

5 Tips to Reach the General Market Reader
1. Learn the craft: One criticism of general market readers are that Christian writer’s stories are not well written or tied up too pretty. This leads readers to call the work cheesy. It’s important to convey in our stories that life is not always pretty just because your characters may have faith. It’s not true in the real world and it’s not true in a fictional world. If we are to make a path into the general market we have got to grasp hold of the craft and make sure our stories are well written, with a solid plot, likeable characters, and good endings.

2. Don’t preach: When you find yourself pointing a finger, over using those personal pronouns…rethink. Remember those times your momma kept at you and at you to make a point – then reword. We live in a time when we must teach gently. Truthfully, but gently. That requires thinking through your approach. How you can write a phrase that says something important without being preachy? It takes practice, but you can do it. Simply keep this in mind. Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity.  Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.Colossians4:5-6 NIV

3. Let the world see Christians have difficulty too: I’ve had writers tell me, (about writing foul language into their stories) that they’d been told to make the world read your work, you have to write what the world wants. NOT TRUE. You never sacrifice purity for foul language. Never. Instead, you learn to convey the emotion in new ways. In essence, you raise the bar. Don’t sink to the world’s level, rather raise the world to a new level. The world needs to see Christians have issues too. We’re imperfect, but we understand redemption.

4. Overusing the name of Christ: One sure way to deter a general market reader who doesn’t know Christ, is to keep throwing the name at them. Before you hang me by my fingernails, think about it. We live in a world that has shoved Jesus out of practically everything, so it’s up to us to introduce His love and forgiveness through the examples of the lives our characters live. Let your characters make godly decisions, show their strength through their faith. You will strike a curiosity in the readers that makes them want to know.

5. Understand what a Christian World View is: and what it means so that you can interject it gently into your story. God created the world with purpose, by design, giving law, and order to things. Sin corrupted His world and left His people broken. Jesus came as a baby, lived among us, died for our sins, and was resurrected on the third day. God is the three in one, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, the perfect example of love. God will restore his people and His creation to Him.

Learning to interject a Christian World View is a little tricky. It means learning to write “around” the non-Christian and teaching them when they do not realize they are learning. Jesus did this by teaching in parables. Remember, it’s not up to us to change the world. It’s up to us to plant the seed then step out of the way so God can do His job. If we can write clean, solid, uplifting stories, that shows good decision making, strength and faith – maybe. . . just maybe, we can change lives in a venue we’re unaccustomed to.

Consider writing your next story to the general market. Show them what a life in Christ can be by writing it in a new and different way. 

TWEETABLES
It’s Time to Stop Preaching—and #Writing—to the Choir - @CindyDevoted on @EdieMelson (Click to Tweet)

5 Tips to reach the general market reader with your #writing - @CindyDevoted on @EdieMelson (Click to Tweet)

Cindy Sproles is an award-winning author and popular speaker. She is the cofounder of Christian Devotions ministries and managing editor of Straight Street Books and SonRise Devotionals, imprints of Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas. Cindy is the executive editor of www.christiandevotions.usShe teaches at writers conferences nationwide and directs The Asheville Christian Writers Conference - Writers Boot Camp. 

She is the author of two devotionals, He Said, She Said - Learning to Live a Life of Passion and New Sheets - Thirty Days to Refine You into the Woman You Can Be. Cindy's debut novel, Mercy's Rain, is available at major retailers. Visit Cindy at www.cindysproles.com and book her for your next conference or ladies retreat. Also connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.

20 comments:

  1. Great points! I'm a Christian, and I have trouble finding Christian fiction I like because it doesn't offer the breadth of stories that the general market does. But I don't like most of the new general market fiction because their world view is either skewed or just plain wrong.

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    1. This is why we need to change things up. Put good reading in a world that needs guidance.

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  2. Well said, Cindy. I loved when you exhort us to raise the bar.

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  3. What a great and timely call to action. Very encouraging.

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    1. Yep. It's time we stop preaching to the choir and open up the flood gates.

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  4. Eddie talked about this at the Georgia Christian Writers Conference. It led me to conclusions regarding the nonfiction book I'm writing.

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    1. He and I have talked about this off and on all year. We'll be addressing this at the Asheville Christian Writers Conference in Feb.

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  5. Hmm, I had to get a new email account for work and google is not sure who just left that comment. I'm going to have to figure this out. Thanks for all you do for writers.

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  6. Wow, how timely is this? Thanks, Cindy, I needed to be reminded of this. Great points.

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  7. Thanks, Cindy! This is just what I needed today.

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  8. Great. I hope you find encouragement in it. And a call to action.

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  9. Thank you for this well-written post with a lot of great points. As an author of Christian fiction, however, I will say that I absolutely believe Christian authors are called to one of three tasks: 1) to write for the general market, and to have an impact through writing from a Christian worldview and through our personal witness, 2) to write for seekers or new believers and to present a clear gospel message through fiction, or 3) to write for a more mature Christian audience, to encourage them to persevere through difficult times and to grow in their walk of faith as they read about how fictional characters overcome their circumstances through the grace of God. That's not preaching to the choir, that's exhorting, building up, offering hope and healing, and encouraging, which we are also commanded to do for one another. All three are valid calls from God. Every Christian author needs to decide which one God is calling him or her to do, and we should all support other Christian authors in whichever type or market they are led to write for. May God bless your work and use it to change hearts and lives, whatever your intended audience may be.

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  10. Thanks, Cindy. I needed this relevant and encouraging truth to move forward in my writing.

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