The Moving Word

Writer, Preacher, Bookworm, Student of the Word

Can Christian Fiction Writers be Too Preachy?

One of the delicate balances of Christian Fiction is how much Christian to put into the fiction. How do we glorify God while retaining the story? How deeply do we go into the issue of salvation?

One writer has a good discussion of this particular challenge.

What is the purpose of good fiction? To entertain and to so thoroughly draw a reader into the center of the story they never want to leave. To provide an escape, a chance for release for the reader. When we read a book, none of us want to be bashed over the side of the head with a message that is well… obvious.

“Preachy” comes in many different forms and all of them can be fatal to our fiction’s shelf life.

Ways of being preachy:
~ A gospel/ salvation message that is tacked on, that has not grown organically from the story.
~The author has an agenda that they must get across, and thus come across as a pushy argument instead of entertaining fiction.
~Everything always comes out the way the author wants. They have set up an agenda and then to make sure it always comes out their correct way, do everything within their power to make it happen, even if it doesn’t make sense for that character to do that.

In short, like I said above, all preachy fiction is agenda fiction.

It is true that when we start a story we have an idea of the message we want to get across to our readers. And that is the joy of writing in the CBA market. We can talk about our faith and show the love we have for our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, but the truth of the matter is, it has to make sense. I have read book after book that is agenda driven fiction for the word of God. A salvation message after salvation message meant to draw the reader to Christ, when all it does is push them away, because it isn’t real.

Fiction has to have believability to it. It has to make sense and before you can have a conversion scene, you must build that character up. Make him or her aware of their spiritual depravity. Then give them the full benefit of a good sermon. But even in that moment, you must be careful to not preach. There doesn’t need to be play by play scripture of the full conversion experience, in fact you are going to get across to the non- Christian reading this a lot better if you show the character after his transformation and his obvious change of attitude.

Think of it this way: who do you know has walked into a church for the first time in their life, with no spiritual training and bent their knee in the first service? Not. Many. And your readers know it.

I have agonized over this in my novel in progress. I would like your thoughts about this challenge. Thanks in advance.

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4 thoughts on “Can Christian Fiction Writers be Too Preachy?

  1. Linda Newsted on said:

    I am in full agreement with the above author. We wouldn’t get up in the face of a person we didn’t know and neither should a book do the same thing. When people purchase Christain fiction they know it will have a spiritual side and expect to read how God impacts lives of His people and that His grace and love is offered to all. I have stopped reading a book when it crosses the line especially it goes on and on. There is no storyline and turns readers off. We are trying to entertain in a book and if someone is touched so much the better.

  2. Yes, Christian literature can be way too preachy. If it’s literature, it’s not preachy. If you wish to preach, that is a good desire. But preach, don’t write preachy fiction. That’s what made Hawthorne less than a great writer.

  3. M G Kizzia on said:

    Can water be too wet? But let’s not blame Christian authors alone. ANY agenda fiction can get “preachy.” I try to save my preaching for my non-fiction blog, but it isn’t always easy. It is a narrow, thin line we all walk. After all, Jesus said narrow is the way to quality fiction and few find it. Broad is the way to preachiness… anyway, it was something like that.
    The Fiction Side: The Storyteller
    The Non-Fiction Side: Word & Spirit

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