Wednesday, June 13, 2007

AT: Preaching to the Choir

CBA: Preaching to the Choir?

Apparently, it’s a common dilemma for Christian novelists: Should I be writing for the CBA (Christian publishers) or the ABA (secular publishers)? When I started writing novels years ago, I naturally figured I should write for the ABA. After all, if I wrote for the secular market, my message would be reaching the lost, and isn’t that what it’s all about?

I have since changed my mind. Or maybe God changed it. I believe of course there’s a place for Christians in the ABA, but I also believe that my place right now is in the CBA. Maybe writing novels for people who are already believers is preaching to the choir, but there’s a very good reason for doing that. As my fellow novelist Robin Lee Hatcher so succinctly and correctly put it, “The choir is sick.”

No offense. And hey, I’m part of the choir too. But we’ve got to take a good look at the health of the church in America and realize there’s something wrong.

I’m the lady who’s always going on about our postmodern culture, so here we go again. With the loss of absolutes and the rise of relativism, we have no standards of right and wrong--even, in some instances, when it comes to church doctrine. If we think we can’t be absolutely sure about what the Bible teaches, then anything goes.

Unfortunately, anything is going strong. Did you hear about the Presbyterian church that sponsored a retreat for women, inviting them to get away and worship the divine goddess within themselves? The Methodist church that incorporated Wiccan (modern witchcraft) prayers into its morning services? The Baptist church that taught a class on our fellow Christian believers: Mormons, Christian Scientists, Jehovah’s Witnesses and Unitarian Universalists?

I wish I could say it weren’t so. But in fact I attended that class at the Baptist church out of curiosity. My jaw was on the floor throughout. This same church offers a wide variety of New Age literature in its library.

Barna recently conducted a survey to find out how many American adults hold a biblical worldview. The criteria for having such a worldview included believing such propositional truths as: God is the all-powerful and all knowing Creator, Christ lived a sinless life, salvation is by grace and not by works, and the Bible is accurate in all its teachings. The basic tenets of Christianity, right?

Of the overall adult population in America, 4 percent have a biblical worldview. Of those categorized as born-again Christians, 9 percent have a biblical worldview.

What, then, is the other 91 percent thinking?

I suppose among them are those people who call themselves Zen Christians because they simultaneously place their faith in Christ while practicing Buddhism. Also included might be the Methodist witches, the earth-worshipers who revere Jesus as a compassionate guide, the pew-warmers who make their life decisions based on their astrological sign, and the syncretists whose Mr. Potato Head religion is designed according to their own tastes--with a little bit of Jesus thrown in for good measure.

I could go on, but I won’t. I’m sure you get the picture.

Can Christians be deceived? In a word, Yes. Can and are. “For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears, they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own likings, and will turn away from listening to the truth, and will wander into myths” (2 Timothy 4:3-4). I have a feeling that time has come.

In the past few years the Lord has made it clear to me that helping a person stay firmly rooted in the Truth is just as important as introducing a person to the Truth in the first place.
So until the Lord tells me otherwise, I’m sticking with CBA, because I believe that the ministry done through CBA books is important beyond words.
Ann Tatlock's work can be found at


At 5:00 AM, Blogger Unknown said...

Wow, Ann, excellent post. Most of us agree that there is a place for those reaching out and those reaching in. It's very enlightening to hear your rationale. Great job at explaining.

At 6:00 AM, Blogger Deborah Raney said...

"...helping a person stay firmly rooted in the Truth is just as important as introducing a person to the Truth in the first place."

Those are words that should hang above every CBA novelist's desk, Ann. Thank you. Your post has inspired me more than I can say this morning.

At 6:52 AM, Blogger Katy McKenna said...

Fantastic argument, Ann. Thanks for presenting it here.

Katy McKenna

At 7:45 AM, Blogger Michael Ehret said...

This is so true. So true. Thanks for the timely post, Ann.

Mike Ehret

At 10:14 AM, Blogger Kristy Dykes said...

Man, you spoke a truth: "In the past few years the Lord has made it clear to me that helping a person stay firmly rooted in the Truth is just as important as introducing a person to the Truth in the first place."

K: Thanks for putting it so succintly. Thanks for your wisdom.

At 3:10 PM, Blogger Dayle James Arceneaux said...

I agree with you completely. Preaching to the choir should not be frowned upon. It is not second class work. Pastors do it everyday.

Only Christians shop in the Christian fiction section.

I veiw the CBA as the church and the ABA as the mission field. We need workers (christian fiction writers) for both. There is great value in writing Christian fiction for either.

Just follow your pen (or keyboard) where God leads you. The world needs both -- pastors and missionaries.

At 9:46 PM, Blogger Robin Lee Hatcher said...

What a powerful post, Ann.

For the record, it was God who whispered those words: "Yes, and the choir is sick!" in response to my question: "But God, isn't writing for the CBA preaching to the choir?" From that moment on, I knew God had called me to write for believers. I want to write entertaining fiction with a strong Christian worldview in order to encourage, edify, and build up the body of Christ.

But your examples of some reasons the church needs edification, etc., made my heart ache. I had not heard these before.


At 1:51 PM, Blogger Karen B. said...

Ann, thank you for speaking this truth so beautifully. The whole "preaching to the choir" argument grates on me every time I hear it for the exact reasons you bring up here. Just because someone is in church, doesn't mean they don't need the truths we communicate in our stories. In fact, these are often the people who are seeking truth. And I want to do all I can to supply it, as God enables me.

At 11:25 AM, Blogger T. Forkner said...

Wonderful post, Ann. And I've enjoyed reading the comments left here. Why does it need to be an argument when it comes to Preaching to the Choir? Either we do as writers, or God has us reaching out to other audiences. It doesn't need to be one way and shouldn't be. You put it so eloquently too. Thanks for sharing.

I like Gina's comment that there is a place for those reaching out and those reaching in. What a nice way to put it, Gina.

On that note, my hubby and I were reading the front cover of the latest Crossings catalog. It says boldly, "Tina, Get closer to God with Christian books and save big!" They know their audience and it's the choir - the same folks who want to get closer to our Lord.

I'm part of the choir and that's why I signed up, but my writing probably reaches out as much as it reaches in.

At 3:26 PM, Blogger BobBlank said...

Damn if I don't agree with you after all!
Your devoted mb


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