Monday, July 25, 2005

Good Vs Christian..Something to Think About



One of the things I most enjoy about reading is that it gives me something to think about. With a “to do” list about 200 pages long, I should really read to escape the cares of the world during my Calgon bath moments. But, I digress.


As a Christian book promoter and marketing strategist, when I meet with emerging and established fiction and nonfiction authors to design their marketing plan for personal use and submission to their publisher or when they do online promotion via, I am often asked the same question: “What is the difference between Christian and inspirational books and just good books?” I refrain from eye-ball rolling as I'm pretty sure I've answered this question  like a million times over the past five years. Everywhere I go people ask me to answer and clarify the perplexing distinction between inspirational, CBA, evangelical and ABA markets etc. etc.


I came across something from a writer/author today (see below) that made me think. Agree? Disagree? Let discuss it.


On the Christian book promotion trail,

Marina Woods,


What defines a Christian novel? © Donna Fleisher

Is your novel truly a Christian novel, or just a G-rated novel?

What is a G-rated novel?
G-rated novels are clean and safe stories written for readers who are offended
by such things as violent behavior or lewd language. Like a G-rated movie.
What is a Christian novel? Is it the same as a G-rated novel?

What follows is strictly my opinion.
Seriously, I don't want to make myself out to be some kind of expert on this.
I just write and edit the stories; I don't make up the rules.
But if I did . . .

Some questions to ponder.
What really makes a story a Christian story?
If a story mentions God in that "Big Guy in the Sky" mentality,
is that enough to label it a Christian story?
Does a story have to openly proclaim the work of our Lord Jesus Christ
on the Cross to define it as Christian?
What if Christ isn't mentioned at all? Can that story still be a Christian story?

If you find yourself pondering in regards to your own story, ponder this:
What is the point of your novel? What is the reason for its existence?
Is there any edification going on? Any evangelizing?
Did you simply want to tell an entertaining story?

It's okay to write a novel for that one and only purpose, to entertain your audience. That's what 90%
of all novelists do. That's why people read novels in the first place. As Christian novelists writing
for a Christian audience, we want to entertain the Christian community.
It's okay to want to be entertained.
But would the rest of the world also be entertained by your novel?
Would they be challenged to consider or reconsider their faith?
Would they be convicted of their sins?
Would they only be entertained?
If non-believers read your Christian novel and are not challenged, outraged, disgusted, or convicted,
then you have not written a Christian novel.
You've written a G-rated novel.

Must a Christian novel actively evangelize non-believers
by boldly presenting the Gospel on every page?
Must a Christian novel actively inspire and uplift believers
by boldly presenting the goodness of our Lord on every page?
What must a Christian novel actively seek to do?
Bottom line? Entertain.
We are talking about making up imaginary stories about imaginary adventures
happening to imaginary people.
Stories made up by Christians for the entire world to read, both believers and non-believers alike.
If you don't entertain your reader, your story is dead.

But can a novel entertain, yet still evangelize and edify at the same time?
This, in my opinion, is what defines a Christian novel.
It is what sets Christian novelists apart from other novelists.
Other novelists only care about entertaining their readers.
We, as believers, know we have a higher responsibility, and that is to present the
Gospel of Christ Jesus as hope and salvation for ALL.
We should not be satisfied by simply telling an entertaining tale.

The Christian novels we write must first and foremost glorify
the Lord God of Heaven and Earth and His Risen Son, Jesus Christ.
It must make a difference in the world.
It must be a tool that God can use to change lives.
Christian novels must also uplift and encourage fellow believers.
It must edify them.
Christian novels must also present the Father God to non-believers.
Yes, it must evangelize.
And, no, this does not mean your characters must preach the Gospel on every page.

We have our work cut out for us. God has given us a huge responsibility to go along with the story
He has given us to tell. Our stories must lift up the name of the Lord Jesus, lift up the hearts of
believers, and lift up the eyes of non-believers to the Father.
And, don't forget, our stories must also entertain.

If we compromise and steer away from any of these three things, we tend to write G-rated novels:
good, clean, safe stories devoid of gratuitous sex, violence, offensive language, and the like.
G-rated novels are good. The world needs more G-rated novels.
But in a G-rated novel, no one is edified. No one is evangelized.
And personally, I think that is a shame.
When we step away from writing novels that openly glorify and honor God,
I think we step away from the concept of writing a Christian novel,
and from having our novel make a true difference in the world.
Even the most highly entertaining novels are quickly forgotten.
When God reaches into the heart of a reader because of what is written in a story,
that Heavenly Touch remains forever.

What is the final point to ponder?
Ask yourself:
If I take out all the "Christian" parts of my story, do I still have a story left to tell?
If I take out all the "Christian" parts, do I now have a story that will work in the general market?
If you answer yes to either question, your story isn't a Christian story at all.
It's one of those G-rated ones.
If you take out the "Christian" parts of a true work of Christian fiction, the story will collapse.
The "Christian" parts are as vital as plot, characterization, dialogue, and setting.
Don't take them out. Bolster them.
Give God every chance to touch your reader's heart.
His touch will cause your story to stay with your reader . . . forever.



Aaron said...

An excellent question that I believe any individual who wishes to offer their writing up to Christ must ask themselves.

My take on it is this. A "Christian" Book need not have evangelism as its main goal, what it must do is portray a redemptive world. More than anything, a well written novel or other work of fiction has the ability to draw a reader into its world completely. Readers want this, to be immersed in a parallel, self-coherent view of life as seen through the eyes of another. As believers, we must strive, above all, to make that world redemptive (cruciform, if any have been to my blog Toward an Evangelical Mind).

It must be a world in which the Son of God gives himself for his creation, in which the corruption at the heart of man is clearly shown, not as a caricature, but as it actually is.

This may not, by the way, involve an explicit Gospel section. Or on the other hand, it may, if it is conducive to the plot. What matters is that the work is so saturated in the Evangel that in the very act of reading it, one is drawn to Christ and what He has done as a moth is drawn to a flame.

I have seen works were the gospel is not laid out in 4 spiritual laws sense that are far more Christian in this sense than works were the message is laid out in such a way, but where underlying worldview is divorced from the content of that message, or is so poorly constructed tha the message is actually invalidated, as if it can be stated, but cannot, in the end, support the weight of the world.

Bottom line: A reader of a Christian book should conclude the work only to find themselves dwelling in the heart of the Gospel, whether or not it ever was stated in a tractarian sense.

At least, that's my opinion

Dee said...

Aaron, thanks for stopping by. What a great response. I would love to post a snippet of this comment on the blog. If that's okay with you?

Aaron said...

No problem

Anonymous said...

Hi Dee, nice to "meet" you.

I guess if I leave a comment here I'll give away the fact that I google my own name from time to time just to see what's up. : ) Well, what can I say. The past few months have been beyond wild and amazing for me (my first novel was just released by Zondervan). God has been amazing. I'm certainly learning to trust Him in ways I never could have learned (and in depths I never could have learned) otherwise.

I appreciate your blog and your work as a reviewer. I appreciate your opinions. I guess what I appreciate most from everyone, but mostly from my brothers and sisters, is honesty. I've just received my first not-so-great review, and I'm feeling the sting a bit, but it's a good sting because I know the reviewer was honest in her feelings. I appreciate her words. (But I guess, in a way, I wish she just would have said, "I don't get this story or what the writer was trying to accomplish," than to say my story was theologically unsound and my characters were "pathological." Ahh well, such is life.)

There's another interesting thing for me in all this, and I only mention this because it's interesting. It's really no big deal. You asked Aaron if you could use a snippet of his comment in a future post, but you didn't (for whatever reason) ask me if you could use my entire piece taken from my website. Not that it was important or necessary for you to ask my permission. (I do appreciate that you attached my name to it.) The piece was strictly my opinion about the matter. These days there are so many labels and tags. So many opinions. So many people doing what they do, thinking they know what they are talking about. Websites and blogs are sweet mediums for all that. But let's face it: it's fun to share what God is doing in all of us. I love that bottom line: God is doing in all of us. If we can keep our thoughts focused on that one bottom line and our hearts focused on our soon-returning Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, what else really matters? : )

Thanks for all you do to keep our hearts, minds, eyes, and ears focused on Christ.

In Him,
donna fleisher


"hold out" (1) 1question (4) 1questionMay (2) 1questionspring (3) 1questionsummer (2) 1questionwinter (7) 2011 (2) 30 Days to Build a Better Blog (5) 30 Days to Build a Better Book Blog (17) 9/11 (2) a good man blog watch (2) aaliyah (2) about me (1) Academy award (2) acfw-vip (2) Africa (1) african america (3) african american christian fiction (19) african american history (8) altartainment (1) amazon (9) american heart (1) american idol (1) amish (4) amy grant (1) Amy wallace (1) andrew carroll (1) angela bassett (1) Arts (2) atlanta (3) atlanta journal (1) atlanta tornado (1) audition (1) authentic creation (1) author (1) author interview (12) author read-in (3) authors (6) authors read in (2) authors read-in (1) awards (11) barbie (1) Basketball (1) bath luxe (2) bational wear red day (1) bbaw (1) bea (2) best of (8) bestsellers (2) bethany house (4) bible (3) bible study (3) bill gates (1) billie jean (1) birthday (3) black authors (2) black authors network (1) black christian novel (1) black christmas plays (4) black hawk down (1) black history (1) black in america (2) black men in america (1) black spiritualism (4) blacklitchat (2) blog alliances (1) blog talk radio (22) blog tour (14) blogalicious (2) blogcatalog (1) bloggers unite (9) blogging (7) bloglight (1) blogtalkradio (6) blythe (1) book (3) book arts (1) book awards (12) book blogging (5) book chat (3) book club (6) book cover (4) book deals (1) book events (9) book fun (2) book marketing (51) book pick (1) book pr (1) book preview (9) book promotion (7) book proposal (2) book release party (2) book review (52) book review submission form (5) book signing (4) book tour (4) book trailer (21) bookbyte (3) bookclub (2) books (3) brook promotion (1) bubble bath (1) bynum (1) c.s. lewis (1) camy tang (2) career (1) carl weber (1) carleen brice (1) casting call (9) cba (2) cfba (4) children books (7) chip macgregor (2) choir (1) chris well (2) christian (2) christian comedy (1) christian detective novel (1) christian ethics (7) christian fiction (13) christian fiction blog alliance (2) christian fiction news (28) christian fiction online magazine (26) christian living (2) christian movie (1) christian novel (4) christian publisher (2) christian retailing (2) christian romance (4) christian summer book (9) christian writer's carnival (1) christian writer's guide (1) Christianity (4) christmas (14) christmas story (14) Christy Award (4) christy awards (3) chronicles of narnia (2) chuck holton (1) chuck palahniuk (1) church news (1) cindy (1) cindy woodsmall (9) civil rights (1) claudia burney (10) clown girl (1) cnn (2) coco brother (2) contest (20) contests (6) controversy (1) convention (3) copyright (1) craft (1) creston mapes (1) cupcakes (2) cyndy salzmann (1) darfur (2) dargur (1) david c. cook (4) David Talbert (1) deanne gist (2) deborah raney (1) decaturbookfestival (1) dee and marina (4) dee stewart (19) dee stewart hezekiah walker (1) dee stewart linda beed (1) deegospelpr (11) dekker (5) denzel washington (1) denzel washington. (1) Derek Fisher (1) designer shoes (1) devotions (1) DiAnn Mills (1) digital publishing (2) disney (2) domestic violence (1) don hoesel (1) doodle (1) dwan abrams (2) e-reader (4) e. lynn harris (1) Earth day (2) eartha kitt (1) easter (4) ecpa (1) editing (2) ella curry (2) England (1) eric wilson (1) essence magazine (3) ethics (3) excerpts (9) facebook (3) faith and fiction retreat (11) Faith anf fiction retreat (1) faith*in*fiction (3) fashion show (1) father's day (1) fictin in rather short takes (1) Fiction (1) fiction in rather short takes (33) flag of our fathers (1) followthereader (1) fox faith (1) frank peretti (1) friday afternoon club myster (1) friday afternoon club mystery (1) friday fest (8) fuge recipes (1) genesis awards (1) George Jackson (1) giveaway (8) Golden State Warriors (1) good reads (4) gospel dream (1) gospel fiction (3) gospel music (19) gospel play (13) Grace (1) guestblog (9) haiti (1) haley kilpatrick (1) hank stewart (1) harper collins (1) Harriet Beecher Stowe (1) harry potter (2) Hawaiian Islands (1) heart disease (2) help wanted (1) historical (9) hope for women (1) horror (3) house of faith (1) human trafficking (1) I Dream of Jeannie (1) ibook (2) imprints (1) inciting incident (1) infuze magazine (1) inspirational monday (2) inspys (1) interviews (12) iThink (1) itw (3) jeanee damoff (2) jeff gerke (1) jena 6 (3) jill elizabeth nelson (1) job announcement (1) juanita bynum (3) juanita bynumemkm (1) juneteenth (4) karen kingsbury (3) kathy herman (1) kim brooks (1) kim cash tate (1) kimani press (1) kimberla lawson roby (2) Kindle (1) kristy dykes (2) laura bush (1) lent (11) leny (1) librarything book reviews (2) lifetime tv (1) lifeway (2) linda hargrove (2) links (1) lisa samson (3) literacy (1) literary agent (3) Literature (2) love (1) M M (1) madea girl talk (1) marcher lord press (1) marilynne robinson (1) marilynnn griffith (5) marina woods (2) marines (2) marketing (5) marketing christian fiction blog (1) marriage (1) mary demuth (1) mary hart (1) media candy (10) medical fiction (2) melody carlson (2) meme (1) Memorial day (3) michael jackson (1) mike duran (1) ministry (3) miranda parker (26) mochareaders (1) mombloggers (2) mommyfest (5) monday mention (3) monika drake (1) morgan freeman (1) mothers (3) motivationmonday (6) movie (14) mtv awards (1) myspace (1) nanowrimo (7) Nat Turner (1) National Basketball Association (1) national book month (1) NBA (1) networking (1) New York Times (1) Newsletters (1) nicole seitz (5) non-fiction (2) novel (2) novel writing (10) ny times bestseller (1) obama (14) off-topic Thursday (3) offf-topic Thursday (2) olympia vernon (1) online bookstore (5) oprah (2) ott (2) Pacific War (1) pam perry (1) parenting (2) party (1) pat simmons (1) pay it forward (2) Pearl Harbor (1) people magazine (1) Philippines (1) play (2) plug and play (1) po bronson (1) politics of the mass media (1) poll (1) prayer cell (4) prayer request (3) preorder pick (2) prince caspian (1) princess dominique (1) publishing (14) race and religion (3) radio (1) radio talk show (4) rawsistaz (4) reading series (4) rebeca seitz (1) reflections (1) relief journal (1) Relief Journal christian writing (3) Religion and Spirituality (3) renovating becky miller (1) reshonda tate billingsley (5) retreat (1) rhonda bowen (5) rhonda mcknight (9) richmond (1) romance (6) romantic times (2) romantic times magazine (8) rt convention (2) saint patrick's day (1) sally e.stuart (1) saturday christian carnival (3) Science fiction (3) secret life of bees (2) selah (3) self-publish (2) shana burton (8) sharon ewell foster (6) sharon hink (3) shawneda marks (1) shelfari (1) sher (1) sherri lewis (12) shine in 09 (5) shoes (1) Shopping (1) short story (2) Sidney Sheldon (1) single women (1) sistahfaith (1) skype (2) Slave ship (1) social media (7) social network (2) social network problogger (7) social networking (2) social networkingh (1) sormag (1) South Carolina (1) specfiction (3) speedlink (8) spiritual autobiography (3) Sports (1) spotlight (2) stacy hawkins adams (6) star wars (1) steeple hill (1) storytellers (3) stranger than fiction (1) sudan (1) summer (8) sunrise (1) survey (2) sxsw (1) t.l. hines angela hunt (1) tavis smiley (2) tavis smley (2) teen (4) the first lady (3) the master's artis (2) the master's artist (56) the masters artist (6) the shack (2) the spirit of your story (1) the stones cry out (1) the trouble with publishing (2) theology (2) thomas nelson (7) thriller thursday (7) tia mccollors (1) tiffany warren (7) titletrakk (1) to (1) tolkien (1) top ten (25) tosca lee (1) tours (1) trailer park tuesday (61) trailer park tuesdaycngdkvb (1) travis Hunter (1) tribute (12) tricia goyer (4) tuesday (2) tv (1) twitter (22) ty moody (3) tyler perry (55) tyler pery (1) tyler play (1) United States (3) urban christian book (5) Utah Jazz (1) utterz (10) valentine (2) vanessa davis griggs (1) vanessa miller (2) veteran's day (2) video (2) wachooreading (2) walmart (1) wanza leftwich (1) warren buffet (1) WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group (1) weakend read (2) wedding (1) wednesday wrap (11) weekend chat (29) weekend chatter (17) weekend read (11) westbow (1) what i'm reading (3) what's done in the dark (1) why fiction matters (9) widcard (1) wiki (1) wild card (12) wildcard (32) Wings of Glory (1) womanist thought (1) women (1) women of faith (2) women's ministry (1) workshops (4) world aids day (1) World War II (1) write-or-die chick (3) writer's call (3) writer's conference (8) writer's prompt (2) writing (4) writing conference (8) writing contest (8) writing journey (2) writing life (38) writing opportunities (2) writing project (5) writing tip (3) writing workshop (2) x-files (1) yolanda king (1) young adult (5) youtube (4) zondervan (5)