With some frequency, secular reviews of Christian fiction include a line that says something about an “obligatory CBA conversion scene” (either its inclusion or its absence).
The interesting thing to me is that I’ve written 18 novels for five CBA (Christian Booksellers Association) publishers thus far, and never once has an editor asked me to include a conversion scene. When it happens in one of my books, it’s a natural outgrowth of the characters and plot, not for any obligatory or gratuitous reason. And I feel confident in saying that I don’t know any CBA authors who put obligatory/gratuitous conversion scenes in their books either.
Having said that, why do said conversion scenes appear with regularity in Christian novels? After all, the readership of CBA fiction is made up primarily of people who are already “converted” to the faith we write about. Perhaps the appeal is because evangelical Christians love to see the regeneration of lives, even in our fictional characters. It’s an important aspect of our faith. It’s part of the Great Commission (Matt 28:18-20).
As a reader of Christian fiction, I’m reminded by a well-written conversion scene of what Christ did in my life when He drew me to Himself. It gives me hope that the people I love who don’t know the Lord will discover His saving grace for themselves. It gives me courage to persevere in my own faith-walk because the flawed condition in which I find myself today is not permanent; God will continue to refine and change and mature me as I walk with Him.
Readers of fiction are drawn to stories that entertain them, but they also look for stories that will affirm their beliefs. Readers of romance want their belief in two people finding lasting love to be affirmed. Readers of mysteries want their belief that justice will be done to be affirmed. And readers of Christian fiction want the truths of their faith to be affirmed. Conversion scenes are a natural part of that affirmation.
Next time you come across a conversion scene in a novel (or next time you write one in your work-in-progress), stop a moment and reflect on the miracle of new life it represents. I think you’ll be blessed because of it.
Robin Lee Hatcher is the best-selling author of The Victory Club and Loving Libby
Web site: http://www.robinleehatcher.com/