The Challenge of Christian Writing and Publishing

It’s been an interesting challenge, this past school year, as I’ve taken on new classes (translate—learn what I need to teach and then figure out how to teach it) and gotten out of my comfort zone.

But it has forced me to do some deep thinking about what I’m doing, why I’m doing it, and what really matters.

Why do I teach writing and publishing?

What do I really want my students to know?

In the past few months, three things have become more clear to me. For the Christian writers who come through the Professional Writing major at Taylor University, I am committed to them graduating with the following understandings:

  1. as Christians, I want them stand strong on the foundations of their faith, understanding that Scripture and their faith impacts every aspect of their lives; I want them to fall in love with God’s Word and see its power for the rest of their lives;
  2. as writers, I want them to understand that their love for and ability with words is a calling and a gift from the Caller that they should and must continue to hone and improve;
  3. as Christian writers, I want them to comprehend the power of those words and their responsibility to God for how they use their giftedness with words, especially as they seek to publish those words into the world.

How can my faith intersect my discipline as I teach the Professional Writing curriculum? How can I—a Christian publishing professional, editor, writer, and faculty member—bring these fundamental truths into our program? How can I bookend my students’ learning from their 101 introductory class to their final capstone class with these truths that matter?

It feels like a very heavy load.

But down deep in my soul, I sense that this is vital. This is more important than anything else I can do.

It is incumbent on Christian publishing professionals—whether authors or editors or publishers or marketers or bloggers or social media experts or agents—to deliver material that is well written, winsome, true, biblical, and honors Jesus Christ.

In a recent discussion, one of these Christian publishing professionals told me, “Too much of Christian writing is either preachy or saccharine. We need to bring wisdom, winsome words, and truth from our foundation into our writing.”

But what does that even mean anymore? The world is so deeply divided. Even among Christians there is so much division we sometimes act like a circular firing squad. I wonder how we can impact our world for good. How can we disagree about living out our faith (our politics, our work lives, our theological beliefs) but do so in a winsome and respectful way? How can we engage the questions so important in our culture, even as we disagree, while still being able to help others find what we have discovered in the foundations of our faith? In the end, that foundational piece is going to be all that matters to us anyway.

How do I guide my students to these understandings—even as we learn good writing and style tagging and editing and platform building and how to do a book proposal?

How do I guide them—even as we look for truth in Scripture and perhaps disagree on many other areas?

How do I help us all “work out our own salvation with fear and trembling” and work out our writing and publishing lives in the same way?

There’s a lot to unpack here, and I invite you to join me both as I prayerfully seek God’s guidance and express my thoughts in the blog. I invite you to comment with your own thoughts and ideas as I think this is a big conversation worth having.

Writers have a lot of power with their words.

And the world needs our very best.

 

12 thoughts on “The Challenge of Christian Writing and Publishing

  1. Excellent article, I need to enhance the content i have truly.

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  2. A very thought-provoking post. I’ve been thinking about this issue too, Linda. So glad your students have you as you talk this through with them. I’m grateful to the Holy Spirit who helps us discern what is good.

  3. Great post, Linda. For writers and all Christians. The words that come to my mind are humility, transparency and total dependence on God. It all seems an impossible task. But thankfully our God is able.
    Thanks for doing what you do and for writing what you write.

  4. Great post, Linda. For writers and all Christians. The words that come to my mind are humility, transparency and total dependence on God. It all seems an impossible task. But thankfully our God is able.
    Thanks for doing what you do and for writing what you write.

  5. Something I strive to do in my teaching as well, to help students understand that their faith cannot be a duality with their profession but instead they must be together. I love this quote from C.S. Lewis that discussed truth in our art “Even in literature and art, no man who bothers about originality will ever be original: whereas if you simply try to tell the truth (without caring twopence how often it has been told before) you will, nine times out of ten, become original without ever having noticed it.” C. S. Lewis (2009). “Virtue and Vice: A Dictionary of the Good Life”, p.12, Harper Collins

  6. I enjoyed this post. I find many of the criticisms of Christian writing (fictional in this case) to be accurate. It seems that these issues are rather recent though. Many Christian authors (Lewis, Chesterton, etc.) in ages past seemed to be able to express their Christian faith and also tell a good story. As an aspiring Christian author, I endeavor do that as well, but I often struggle with how to strike that balance. I constantly fear that my work will fall victim to those previously mentioned issues.

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