Fiction as Evangelism, Some Questions and Thoughts


Earlier this week I mentioned a blog post by Mike Duran over at Novel Journey about using fiction to evangelize. Thank you for the responses. I’ve been thinking about this issue lately and it’s brought up some questions in my mind.

Now, first, I realize that evangelism is a continuum that runs from living a godly lifestyle to sharing the gospel to leading someone to Christ to discipling that someone. There’s more or less steps involved there, of course. Each situation and how someone ultimately comes to Christ is unique and unto itself. For the purposes of this post and my thoughts I’m zeroing in on the aspect of sharing the good news of God’s salvation part of evangelism.

A few questions running through my mind:

Can fiction itself evangelize? Obviously, if it’s going to, somewhere in the story there must be the gospel message. That can be presented in a myriad of ways, from covert to overt, but let’s face it, telling a wholesome story with no swearing or sex and maybe a moral message isn’t going to clue anyone in on the glory of what Jesus did on the cross and our need for Him as a Savior. Yes, God can use anything to lead someone to Himself but how shall they know unless someone tells them? God’s intent is that people introduce the message.

Can fiction be used as a tool to evangelize? This is where I say a hearty YES! Jesus did it all the time in the form of parables. From the time we’re old enough to understand the English language people are in love with stories. The way I see it, this can be done a couple ways. One, a story can be another seed planted in the soil of an unbeliever’s heart. Maybe something in the story plucks that right heart string or opens the blinds just the right way to let the Light in. Maybe it clues in on just the right topic that brings that dawning of understanding. Whatever. The point is, when we write a story, we never know how God is going to use that story or the characters in it or the message in it. The second way is that the story can be used by someone else as a platform to share the gospel. A believer can give the book to an unbeliever then get a conversation started about the book and guide that conversation toward spiritual things.

Here’s another question I have and it’s spawned by Christian authors writing for the secular market with an intent to evangelize. They say they want to reach the unbelievers and I commend them for that and am not in any way questioning their heart or motives. My question is asked out of simple ignorance: How can they evangelize a lost world who knows nothing of God’s salvation with a story that speaks nothing of God’s salvation? Obviously, their target audience is the lost. And I would imagine a secular publisher isn’t going to go for overt Christian messages in the book (except in rare circumstances), so how does this happen? I equate it to working side by side with your co-worker and living a clean, moral life in front of him/her but never going beyond that, never talking about spiritual things, never mentioning your faith, never talking about Jesus.

Now, I can see where a Christian author (or “an author who is a Christian,” which seems to be the popular way of saying it nowadays) may want to write for the general market with an eye to believers who are struggling with one thing or another and has strayed from the faith. They would have a much better chance of reaching that person in the general market with a story of hope and redemption.

Just some thoughts. They are my thoughts. Feel free to agree or disagree. This is after all, America, and still a free country . . . for now.

I’m sure I’ll have more thoughts as time goes by but for now, I’d like to hear yours.

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About mikedellosso

Mike Dellosso is an author of wide-eyed suspense. He writes stories that not only entertain but enlighten.

Posted on December 4, 2009, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 9 Comments.

  1. Dayle James Arceneaux

    Well said, Mike. I couldn't agree more. There is one thing I always say in response to the argument that Jesus wasn't always a straight gospel preacher. That he used parables that were symbolic of a greater point and therefore we can write "parable" novels that don't contain any hint of the gospel and it will work.The problem is that Jesus always explained his parables after he told them. He used them to enhance his points not replace them.

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  2. Mike,Thank you for your honest post. I heartily agree that, as Christians, authors do have a greater responsibility unto the Lord with their gift than an unsaved secular author. Covert or overt message, Christian author or author who is a Christian…these things indicate to me that the author is wrestling within their spirit with what God is asking them to do.As a reader, I pray that the Lord would continue to raise up writers that will boldly proclaim Him in their stories. He is so faithful to do this! I actually thrills me to see authors like yourself pondering and asking questions, because I know you are seeking God as you write and you are seeking His will for your life. It's not about sales/marketing/popularity/the best seller's list – although all of those things are desirable in any career – your heart is seeking God first. The rest is all left in God's able hands.You know of His faithfulness and abundance in ways that many of us have not experienced. However, you share your heart with your readers, and your faith is vibrant, growing and maturing and serves as an encouragement to other believers.Personally, some of your most powerful writing appears right here on your blog…because it's just Mike, God's child, sharing his heart and sharing God's blessings with others. I love your stories, and I hope to be reading them for a very long time to come, but I praise God that He is busy in your heart and directing your path as your write your stories!I hope this isn't a ramble…I just want you to know that I appreciate your thoughtfulness.

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  3. Dayle, I love what you said, that Jesus used parables "to enhance his points, not replace them." That is so spot on.Kim, thank you for your comment (and all your comments). As an author I do wrestle with this issue every time I sit down to write. I want my words to glorify God. I want them to count. I want them to be an instrument of change in people's lives. How best to do this is the wrestling part. And I take it very seriously. I know there are other authors out there who share my heart and for them I am very thankful.

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  4. Mike, Jesus used parables as a sort of judgment on Israel as well as a teaching tool. If Jesus did not Himself explain them, then they would not be "enhancing" anything because the amount of speculation surrounding them would be enormous. They are only helpful illustrations to those who He has provided with the capacity to understand, through the Spirit, as both Jesus and Paul explain in different books of the New Testament.

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  5. Great post Mike, I agree 100%. There have been times in my life where I was far from God, but still reading Christian fiction books, and many is the time I was convicted and/or encouraged by the message in a Christian novel. My hat is off to authors who boldy proclaim a Christian message without sugarcoating it, and I believe God will honor those authors for it

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  6. Susan J. Reinhardt

    Hi Mike -Why is it so different to live and share the Christian message ourselves or allow our characters to do the same thing? I think the problem is we've gotten away from the reality of our daily walk with the Lord.To be a witness means to tell others what we know firsthand. I'm not giving what others have said about the matter. That's hearsay. It wouldn't be accepted in a court of law, and carries no weight with unbelievers. Instead of worrying about spouting long theological arguments, we and our characters would do better displaying Christ's love and sharing how the Lord answered a prayer, healed us, or met our needs.Blessings,Susan 🙂

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  7. Great comments. Thank you. Any time this subject comes up I'm amazed (though I shouldn't be) at how passionate people are about Christian messages and characters and themes working their way into fiction. Why aren't more authors doing? Especially in the suspense genre?

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  8. Thanks for your honest exploration of this topic Mike. I have no problem with Christian writers write novels with no obvious Christian message. But it does bother me when they say they do this so they can reach the lost rather than "preaching to the choir." As believers we should build bridges to the culture around us. At the same time the bridge should lead somewhere. As to your last question. I'm doing my best to join your ranks as one who works those themes into captivating suspense. Thanks for your encouragement along the way.

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  9. I do believe Christian literature with a subtle approach can serve to reach out to non-believers effectively. If the literature is good enough to hook a reader who otherwise might avoid the topic of Christianity, then it might eventually open doors for more exploration and make that reader more receptive to the more serious messages that are found directly in the Bible. In my thinking it's kind of like some of the pop ministries we see today that catch peoples ears with positive and uplifting messages. Once you've got that listener, you've opened a door that invites them to the next levelRecently I was reading Athol Dickson's LOST MISSION, which I will be reviewing on my blog this coming Tuesday 12/8, and I took it with me when I had to get a blood test and thought I might have to wait. The lady who took my blood sample, who was a Hindu from India, saw the book and told me how her very mature 12 year old son had seen this book in the store and had asked her to buy it for him. She asked me if it was good and I told her that so far I was enjoying it a great deal. My merely holding the book provided an opening in a very brief encounter to talk about the book. If she got the book for her son later, who knows what may come of it?I will be posting my interview with Athol Dickson on my blogsite this Wednesday 12/9. Hope you will check it out and pass the word as I thought he gave some interesting insight.Leehttp://tossingitout.blogspot.com/

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