Many Christians warn writers against being ‘preachy’. But even though many of us have a vague idea of what it means to be preachy, few have any clear idea of what on earth the term means. We’ve all read writing that jarred us with its bombastic, thinly veiled message that we have to accept Jesus, but we have very little idea where that feeling comes from or what it is doing. But most of us want to know what it is, so we can avoid it.
In one sense, this is due to a lack of the author’s skill. A lot of preachy writing finds its roots in the fact that that the author simply doesn’t know how to communicate the gospel any better than they can communicate scenery or character. And though this certainly is an element, skill as a writer is still not a guaranteed cure for preachiness. There are writers who have serviceable technical skills, and still come across as hackneyed twits.
preachy writing finds its roots in the fact that that the author simply doesn’t know how to communicate the gospel any better than they can communicate scenery or character
The problem is, Christians treat writing like tithing. They give certain portions of their work ‘to the Lord’ as it were, sometimes they write their whole book ‘to the Lord’ (and heaven help us if they do), and what comes out is something as dry and inedible as asbestos. The work ends up as either pure entertainment with some bible verses thrown in to appeal to Christians, or the sort of work that parents read to their children as a punishment.
The problem is, Christians treat writing like tithing
We can’t simply ‘give our work to the Lord’. The result is moralism. We think that if we somehow throw in Bible verses or put in ‘good lessons’ that God will somehow be pleased with us. Nothing could be further from the truth. Our greatest righteousness is as filthy rags before the Living God. Do you think God is impressed because you shoved a Bible verse into your novel? Yea, even the devils throw Bible verses into their novels and tremble (i.e Twilight).
We should give glory to our Lord and Savior, and we do that by worshiping Him. All our work should be done to worship him, from our dialogue, to our conversations, to our characters–not just the ‘God’ portions of our novel. It should be an act of worship, not of forced tithe. J.R.R Tolkien and Jonathan Swift crafted Christ-honoring masterpieces, and they barely mentioned God at all. They wrote, like we should write, as an act of worship to the greatest Storyteller of them all.