Take a look at any Christian novel and the chances are someone is going to convert in the end, be it the main character or someone that’s roughly static throughout the book. I have long resented this form of fiction for a variety of reasons, but mostly because they tend to resemble a gospel tract. Rather than giving someone a piece of literature which nobody reads completely, why not use fiction to sustain the reader’s attention and stick the gospel message at the end? I mean when all problems are finally resolved, Johnny finally gets what he wants by converting to the Gospel.
What is exactly wrong with this picture? For one thing, the gist of the novel is to being used for something other than crafting fiction; it’s an evangelism tool for witnessing, not entertaining. Although I am not opposed to writing fiction as a mode of evangelism, I have problems when Christians use this craft as a cop-out from taking the real time to form a relationship with that person to share the gospel. It would be easier to write something more technical and designed for beneficial evangelism like a non-fictional Christian living book than creating characters that are meant to deliver the didactic message i.e., ‘the Gospel invitation’.
Another problem I would like to point out in the field of Christian fiction writing is the problem with the narrow niche market that these books are good for. Not too many Christians would find themselves wanting to read a book that does not aim at benefitting the believer from a fictive standpoint if they know what how the book plays out in the end. Besides, why spend an egregious amount of time immersing oneself into a world of familiarity where you think you’re always either the static Christian character who constantly witnesses or the saved guy who turns out to be actually someone who’s not saved at all?
I am not saying that this mode is entirely bad in its intention; in fact, my testimony and (ultimately) conversion of the book has come from being under the influence of a Christian novel (the Left Behind Series). What I am saying is that the Christian fiction market needs to expand itself into the stories which can relate to both the Christian and non-fiction. There are real issues that happen in churches, all the time, why not discuss them? Oh wait, I’m doing that now.