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Sharon Hinck on Story Evangelism

“God is so awesome and multifaceted that we need a variety of means to communicate with Him and about Him.”

Honestly, I sometimes feel weary at the circular arguments about story evangelism.

A theme to all my work in the arts over the years has been, “God is so awesome and multifaceted that we need a variety of means to communicate with Him and about Him.”

I think we need a variety of genres, a variety of authors – some who overtly point to Christ within their stories, and some who are called to simply write stories where they serve the Creator by creating something of beauty.  I want to lovingly support the calling of my brothers and sisters who have a calling different from my own.

I also smile at the word “should.” I see it differently. We “get to!” As Christians, we get to point to Jesus in our stories (sometimes overtly and directly, most of the time through symbolism, a character’s journey of discovery, allegory).

I do believe that as a follower of Jesus, our lives (and our work of any sort) evangelizes. He makes Himself known. If you use a narrow definition of evangelizing – a systematic presentation of theological truth – a novel may not be the best place for that.

If I’m trying to be sneaky and get someone to buy my novel and then instead of engaging them in a story, I preach at them – I feel that is dishonest to the art form and not loving to the reader. “Do unto others…” is helpful for me to remember. I don’t want to be ambushed by a book, so I don’t want to do that to a reader. Yet honestly conveying a character’s spiritual questions, struggles, and even his/her coming to truth, his/her interactions with God, can certainly be appropriate.

#StoryEvangelismShould Christian stories evangelize?

This is a crucial issue for anyone who loves stories but loves Jesus more, and wants to glorify Jesus through our enjoyment of stories or our making of stories.

During October our new SpecFaith series explores this issue.

On Thursdays, reviewer Austin Gunderson and writer E. Stephen Burnett host the conversation with interactive articles. On Fridays and Tuesdays, guest writers such as novelists and publishers offer their responses to the question.

We invite you to give your own answers to the #StoryEvangelism conversation.

Sharon writes "stories for the hero in all of us,” about ordinary people experiencing God's grace in unexpected ways. Known for their authenticity, emotional range, and spiritual depth, her novels include contemporary fiction such as The Secret Life of Becky Miller or Stepping into Sunlight and the groundbreaking Sword of Lyric fantasy series which includes The Restorer. She has been a Christy finalist and won three Carol awards. Sharon's undergrad degree is in education, and she earned an M.A. in Communication. When she isn't wrestling with words, Sharon enjoys speaking to conferences, retreats, and church groups. She loves interacting with visitors at her website and blog.

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Pam Halter
Member

A theme to all my work in the arts over the years has been, “God is so awesome and multifaceted that we need a variety of means to communicate with Him and about Him.”

YES, Sharon! I think you’ve captured it beautifully. My passion in my fantasy writing is to plant the message, “You can do what God has chosen you to do!” And I want to do it through story. So, I decorate it with fairies and such, but hey, I like fairies and such!  HA!  Yes, indeed, we “get” to share how wonderful our God is and I’m enjoying every minute.

Parker J. Cole
Member

Great response to the question. Everyone is called in this art to do different things. And I love how you said “We get to!” Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

Parker J. Cole
Member

And oh my gosh! Your book covers look fantastic! Rock on!

Rebecca LuElla Miller
Admin

Parker, her BOOKS are fantastic, too. Each one reveals something new, and all are entertaining. You can’t go wrong with The Sword of Lyric series.

Becky

Rebecca LuElla Miller
Admin

I sometimes feel weary at the circular arguments about story evangelism.

Me, too, Sharon. But I think it’s because we’ve been around long enough that these are not new discussions for us. Other readers and/or writers might be coming at the subject for the first time. They need to know what other writers have concluded, what our thinking on the subject is.

I’ve reached the same place you have, I think. I know what God has called me to, but it may not be the same place with the same goal He has called other writers to.

I’m with Parker and Pam—love the concept of “getting to” point to Jesus Christ in my writing. It is what we’re called to as Christians—not as grudging servants, but as Paul said about earthly servants, “With sincerity of heart”—but what a privilege to do it in story!

Becky

E. Stephen Burnett
Admin

Amen. And Biblical truth will reveal this task to be a joyful privilege for the Christian author, not a burden. And I can speak as a reader and say that while I appreciate truths and beauties reflected in a non-Christian’s story, a story by a Christian author often reflects Christ to me more deeply than any other story.

Thank you for this reflection, Sharon!