Does Your Writing Connect Readers to God?
Christian writers face a dilemma most other writers don’t face. They want to write for God, to honor him, yet at the same time need to reach the hearts of people.
This may sound like the same goal, but it is vastly different. Christian writers have one concept of God’s nature, but readers are in a different place in their minds. Thus, Christian writers are charged with making the “God connection.”
To make the God Connection, Christian writers must understand their purpose. Just as importantly, they must understand their readers. God is the constant in this equation, but readers are ever-changing. Making a connection is difficult.
Writing for God
What does it mean to “write for God?” Many Christian writers are confused about this. After all, the Lord is the Living Word, and we also have the written word, the Bible. If we believe, as many Christians do, that the Bible is “final authority,” then it would seem that Christian writers should be extinct.
However, we continue to write for one primary reason. This applies to fiction and nonfiction writers. It applies equally to book authors and bloggers.
“For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.” – Paul
We write to fulfill the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20). Our purpose as Christian writers is to make disciples and to equip them to live for Christ.
Yes, it is that simple.
We are writing for God. That is the core purpose of all Christian writers. The topics we write about, and what we say may be varied, but we cannot lose sight of this core. And we cannot compromise that core by subtly replacing God’s will with our own will.
Writing for Self
Christian writers are dogged with a major handicap. They believe that if they expend time, talent, and treasure to reach “just one person for Christ,” the effort will be worthwhile. That is not a biblical concept. In fact, it is a very selfish idea.
Many Christian writers are lying to themselves and God. They have some pet doctrine they are trying to push. Or they are trying to mesh current social and political values with the timeless message of the Bible based on their own bias. Or they secretly seek fortune and fame.
One of the most pervasive forms of writing for self today is when Christian writers feel God is compelling them to reveal their pain by telling their stories. They mistake the therapeutic value of writing with its higher purpose of outreach.
Ask: Why would anyone, aside from you, want to read what you have written?
There is nothing wrong with sharing your testimony in your writing. All Christian testimonies are the same. They start with our life in sin, move on to our conversion to faith in Christ, and finally to the life we now live in Christ.
When you write for self, two-thirds of your story is about your sin no matter what form it took. When you write for God, two-thirds are about your transformation and life beyond your sin.
Face it, everyone on the planet has been depressed, abused, or treated unjustly. Readers don’t want to hear about that. They want to be rescued. That’s why Christian writers must make the God connection.
Writing for Others
When you write for others, you can meet them at their point of need, then guide them on a journey to introduce them to the Lord. If you are writing for Christians, your goal is to help them live a deeper, more service-filled spiritual life.
The barrier for most Christian writers is that they do not know who “the other” is. Consequently, they write for themselves and hope it will somehow be meaningful to others. That is a flawed strategy.
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” – Jesus
Christian writers must identify their readers and write for them. Readers fall into many categories, and it is crucial to identify those categories. The first is whether they are writing for Christians or Non-Christians. Each group has different perceptions and different needs. One size does not fit all. Before you write your first word, you must decide which group you are targeting.
The second factor is gender. To be most effective, you should aim your message at either men or women. Each has their own needs, their own sensibilities, and their own way of processing their thoughts. Yes, there is some crossover about more objective topics. But you have to know if you are writing for men or women regarding subjective matters.
Finally, consider the age of the reader you intend to reach. It has always been a puzzle that churches have a finely graded Sunday School (3-5’s, 6-7’s, 8-9’s, and so on), but when we get to adults, we tend to lump groups into younger adults (21-31). Mid-age (32-54), and seniors (55 and up).
This kind of adult grouping can be deceptive. A 55-year-old senior has very little in common with a 70-year-old senior. Adult groups need to be as finely graded as children’s groups.
Likewise, Christian writers must know the age of the person they intend to reach. You cannot reach them at their point of need unless you are targeting an age range. Needs vary by age.
How to Find Needs to Meet
My pet peeve about pastors is that they spend too much time in their office studying and writing sermons. This practice is a significant factor in killing church attendance, as we are seeing.
Typically, pastors say they preach on a topic, “the Lord laid on my heart.” But the reality is, sermon preparation is one of the most derivate types of literature we have. There is little or no originality or creativity involved. Most “study” is a pastor culling through a stack of commentaries and choosing ideas he wants to use.
“For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” – Mark
What is the solution? It is the same for pastors and Christian writers. Each most be out among people. If Jesus came to Earth to meet his people face-to-face, then we must do the same. It is only as we talk with people, and listen to them, that we can write to meet their needs.
Are you stuck for an idea for your book or blog? Talk to your friends and relatives. Engage a stranger in conversation. Target them by their spiritual condition, gender, and age group. Listen to them and discover the issues they are facing. Offer Christ-honoring solutions.
Know Your Readership
The reality is, we cannot write to please ourselves. That is not the way of Christ. We must write to please God. And we can only do that when we use spiritual truth to meet the genuine needs experienced by real people.
Know your readership. Learn as much as you can about them. Keep them in the forefront of your mind as you write.