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.
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.