I was thirteen years old when God placed it on my heart to write Christian stories for teenagers. At the time, though, I wasn’t even aware that the Christian fiction market existed. I grew up reading books that every elementary school kid read. So why did I feel so compelled to write faith-based stories for teens?
One day I decided to do a Google search to see if it was even possible to write in this genre. And guess what? I found endless Christian YA fiction books–most of which were written by Melody Carlson and Robin Jones Gunn. You better believe I read as many as I could get my hands on!
As I read these books, I felt a stirring even more to write in this genre. These were the books teenagers needed. Not the trashy and profanity-laden contemporary YA books that I always seemed to neglect midway through reading.
Not only were these YA Christian fiction stories entertaining, but they were spiritually rejuvenating. I found myself relating with the protagonists–their insecurities, struggles, and imperfections. And as these characters conquered faith-building challenges, I was inspired and motivated to develop faith muscles in my own life.
No, these Christian fiction YA novels weren’t cheesy or preachy. (Well … not the ones I finished reading, at least!) I didn’t feel like I was reading a sermon. Rather, I felt like these books included an element that so many general market YA books seemed to neglect.
The spiritual element.
We are, after all, spiritual beings at our core–even nonbelievers. So when a character’s internal arc lacks this spiritual journey, then the book may lack true depth as well. Sure, it may be entertaining to the senses. I might feel an adrenaline rush during the car chase scenes or butterflies in my stomach during those adorable meet-cute scenes.
But as Christians, we can write books that dive deeper than surface-level entertainment–yes, even if we choose to write for the general market.
We can tactfully embed a spiritual element within our page-turning plot in a way that doesn’t come across as overt or preachy.
When we do this, we have the potential to change lives for God’s glory. To plant the right kind of seeds within the hearts and minds of our readers. To whet their appetites for more of His light and His Truth and His love.
So, yes, I do believe the books we write can serve as a form of ministry.
Stories are powerful, after all. Isn’t that why Jesus often used parables rather than sermons to illustrate truth?
Stories have a way of sticking with us. Our characters can be more than merely fictional human beings when they’re combined with the imagination, emotion, and experiences of our readers. The books we write can serve as a mirror so they can reflect on their own lives. Our carefully-crafted themes can be immersed with the truth our readers may be so desperate to hear.
And it’s this truth that can usher freedom and healing and hope into their lives.
Then, when readers witness how our characters are rescued from flames by clinging to the hand of Jesus, perhaps they, too, will be encouraged to reach for His hand as well.
So if you feel called to write faith-based stories–just like I did when I was a teen–then I leave you with this challenge:
Devote your pen to the purposes of God’s kingdom.
Saturate your writing sessions with prayer and surrender this gift to be used for God’s glory rather than your own.
Then, as we follow His guidance while we write, He can use our stories in ways we’ve perhaps never imagined. (Don’t believe me? Check out this short film “Miracle at Montford Prison.”)
No, our books don’t need to be just another book people read for pleasure and then forget about. There are plenty of good books that provide that kind of entertainment and escapism.
But we are glory writers. We are called to infuse hope into this world through our pens. Our pages can burst forth with God’s light, illuminating the darkness with His life-changing presence.
If we’re up for the challenge, we can write books that mark a turning point in the lives–and spiritual journeys–of our readers. Stories that magnify God and advance His kingdom.
Books that make an eternal difference.
“You hold the pen of hope and healing,
you who tell of fear and feeling.
Power to touch the jaded soul;
power to make the broken whole.
To entertain, to intertwine,
to take us back in tests and time.
Write you must–now go from here;
write and keep the Savior near.
Now, Spirit, lead us every page;
through our words, be center stage.
Give us love for those who read;
give us words so they might see.
Author God, now through your power
guide us from this very hour.
Let us tell of love and light
and grant us strength so we might write.”