Blogger: Rachelle Gardner
As an agent in CBA, I frequently hear authors say things like, “I don’t want my book to be exclusively in CBA. I want it to cross over.” I think this comes from a desire to not only have a larger audience, but to reach more people for Christ.
Authors may wonder: What good is it for us to be writing just to other Christians? Shouldn’t we be reaching out to nonbelievers? Shouldn’t we be writing with the purpose of bringing more people into the Kingdom?
Are we preaching to the choir?
These questions reflect the perception that CBA seems to be a business based on “preaching to the choir.” Most of us, as believers, have a desire to reach nonbelievers with our writing (and hopefully, with our lives). While this is a big topic, I want to make a couple of points about it.
You might have a passion to bring people to Christ through your books, but I think it’s helpful to remember that coming to Christ is a process. One step in the process is making the decision, which is usually preceded by various instigating factors: conversations with a Christian, reading books, attending a church service. It can take months or years, or can be practically instantaneous.
But once the decision is made, it’s not a “done deal.” The second step is a lifetime of pursuing Christ, developing spiritual maturity, going deeper in our faith. This is becoming a disciple. We need others to help us on this path. And this is where I believe most of the CBA books come in.
Our books’ purpose is to disciple believers.
In my opinion, the importance of discipling believers is often underestimated. There are many people “making a decision for Christ” and then remaining shallow or weak in their faith for years or decades, with no one giving them direction in how to develop spiritual maturity. This is where we can have the most impact as Christian writers.
Whether we’re writing fiction or nonfiction, our books can take people deeper into what it means to be a person of faith in Jesus Christ, whether those believers are newbies or have been Christians all their lives. This is equally as important as creating believers in the first place. CBA disciples believers.
And we reach nonbelievers too.
Now here’s the amazing thing. If you write a book that disciples believers in some way, it’s likely to be read at some point by a nonbeliever and your book will be part of the process of creating a new Christian. That’s just the way it works.
The books that reach nonbelievers for Christ are not usually books that were planned that way. It just happens, because Christian books can be tools the Holy Spirit uses. And they’re tools in the hands of Christians who are personally leading others to Christ.
It even works with fiction.
As an example, years ago a nonbeliever friend of mine had another friend who was a devoted Christian. The turning point came when the Christian friend gave the nonbeliever Left Behind (a book many Christian writers love to disdain). The Holy Spirit worked profoundly and this nonbelieving man wanted to know more. He read Lee Strobel’s The Case for Christ and then Where Is God When It Hurts by Philip Yancey. He was ready for some conversations with a pastor, and finally he made his decision and got baptized.
Your book can be fiction or nonfiction, it can be written toward the believer or nonbeliever, it can be about any aspect of Christianity… and if it expresses truth in a way that people can relate, the Holy Spirit can use it to bring people to Christ.
So that’s why I believe it can be wasted energy to worry that CBA “preaches to the choir.” Sure we do. The choir needs to be discipled too. At the same time, non-choir-members will occasionally find themselves in hearing distance of our “preaching.” And it can change their lives.
Write the best book you can. Make the most well-informed decisions you can about where to publish. Follow advice from trusted sources about marketing and promotion. Then trust God to get your words out there where He can use them to disciple or create believers—or both.
Have you ever worried that publishing in CBA is too limiting? Why? What are some advantages or disadvantages of CBA for a writer?