Thursday, May 4, 2017

How to Save Christian Fiction by Kathryn Bain

In January, literary agent Chip McGregor stunned Christian writers with his predictions for 2017. You can read his blog post at Pay particularly close attention to number 10 titled Christian fiction as we know it is going to almost completely go away.” He blames a couple of things on this trend, one of which is readers of the Amish disappearing.
A lot of other problems exist within the Christian fiction realm. When authors of the genre don’t even read the books, how do you expect any reader to?
In order to save Christian fiction, we have to know why people are not purchasing the books. Below are five main reasons consistently given.
Unbelievable Characters. The bad guys are always atheist and the good guys are Christian. In addition, Christian characters are too perfect, always thinking about God and scripture. I don’t know about you, but when I get cut off in traffic, scripture isn’t the first thing that comes to my mind. Characters need to be human and realistic if we’re to get readers to read our books.
No One Has Sex. Okay, let me state that I know you’re not supposed to have sexual content in Christian books. However, a study was done in 2010 by the Center for Sexual Health Promotion “revealed that less than five percent of singles between the ages of 25 and 59 have sex two-to-three times a week, while a quarter of married people do—five times the rate.” [i] You wouldn’t know it from any romance books out there, including Christian fiction. Very few Christian books show married couples enjoying a satisfying sex life.
Weak, Stupid Females.Christian fiction is full of women who cry at the drop of a hat, and who can’t seem to live without a man. Very few Christian heroines have non-traditional careers, especially in romantic suspense. And these female characters refuse to call anyone for help. Would a teacher really leave the safety of police protection to take on a serial killer just to keep her new DEA boyfriend safe? Highly unlikely, yet it occurs all the time in Christian fiction. In my KT Morgan Series, KT is a former Marine. She’s smart and strong physically. Yet, she will get the authorities involved if need be.
Ridiculous Story Lines. Nothing Christian characters do are truly that bad. I can’t tell you the number of books I’ve read where the husband, instead of an affair, just kisses another woman. Instantly, he regrets his actions and the other woman understands completely. When his wife finds out, she’s devastated to the point of walking out on the marriage. Christians have not only cheated, but they’ve stolen and even murdered. Yet, for some reason, Christian authors are afraid to show it.
Where Are The Real Issues? Christian fiction is notorious for skirting around the issues of today. Very seldom will you read about a Christian hooked on pornography or drugs. We need to focus on lost souls who are dealing with real subject matters, including Christians. Instead, we get silly women who are confused about whether they should allow that wonderful hunk of a man into their lives. In my Lincolnville Mystery series, I’ve dealt with stalking, child trafficking, pregnant, unmarried women, and more. Real issues that people deal with every day. 
If we want to prove Mr. McGregor wrong, we have to change the way we write Christian fiction. Story lines and characters have to become more realistic. God has given us this gift of writing, yet we’re failing to reach people. It’s almost like we’re afraid to offend our readers. Instead, we’re losing them.
John 15:13 tells us that Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. And greater is no Christian author than he that can reach a non-believer and bring him to God. That’s the Christian author we should all attain to be.
[1] 6 Reasons why Married People Should have Better Sex Lives, Linda and Charles Bloom, September 26, 2015,