At the church where I serve, the Sunday morning service includes a profession of faith spoken in response to the teaching we’ve heard from Scripture. This response might be a creed taken from our denomination’s collection of trusted explanations of faith, or it might be a portion of Scripture. We might read the entire portion together, or we might break it into sections with myself as the worship leader declaring a phrase of the reading with the congregation responding by declaring the next section.
This is called responsive reading. The leader or pastor makes a statement based on what we know is true in Scripture, and the congregation replies with their own statement of gratitude or commitment. The entire exercise is both strengthening and encouraging. Our faith is strengthened through the confession of our beliefs in the company of other Christian brothers and sisters. We are encouraged by the words of Scripture in order to bring truth and love into another week of relationship and vocation.
As I was pondering this piece of a worship service, I realized that writing fiction serves a very similar purpose to the responsive reading. The historical fiction I write is not only clean, but it is decidedly Christian. I write that way on purpose. I hope that my books are the statement made by a pastoral leader with the reader’s engagement in the story as the response.
I envision fiction writing working in this way for three reasons. The first one is, of course, the evangelism that takes place because a character in the story has heard the good news of the gospel and has chosen to believe in Jesus Christ. My prayer is that my books land in the hands of readers who are searching, and go on to find relationship with Jesus because they have read my stories.
The second response a reader might give to the reading of Christian fiction is one of empowerment. People who are already Christians and have walked with the Lord for many years also enjoy reading Christian fiction. These are the readers who find a confidence and an equipping through the reading of the story. Their acquaintance with the characters and the resolutions that come as the story moves along provides the reader with the words to say so that they are ready to lead others into a relationship with Jesus.
The third response to reading Christian fiction is one of formation. This response is similar to the one of empowerment. In empowerment, a reader is given the tools for evangelism, but in formation, the reader is shown illustrations of positive outcomes. Characters grow and deepen throughout the course of a story. Their victories, insights, healings, or risks taken model how a reader should respond in relatable circumstances.
A responsive reading of Christian fiction calls for hearing the Scripture-based statements made in a story, applying them to our lives, and responding with our own statements of faith. Gratitude or commitment, belief or evangelism empowerment or formation, each one is an appropriate statement to make as a result of enjoying a good story that has been written with the glory of God and compassion for the reader in mind. May we stay open to hearing the Lord speak to us as we read, and may we be willing to profess our faith in Him in our relationships, in our homes, and in our jobs.
Michelle De Bruin is a worship leader and spiritual services provider. She lives in Iowa with her husband and two teenage sons. A romantic at heart, Michelle is always on the lookout for glimpses of God’s love through the window of a good story.
Michelle is the author of Hope for Tomorrow. For more information about her writing or about Michelle, visit her website or follow her on social media.
A young man leaves his career to care for his family and agrees to board the teacher who offers him a priceless gift.