I’ve been thinking a little more about this whole notion of writing in such a way that you’re reaching beyond your usual audience. At ECPA a few months ago, Sarah Miller talked about using language that people will understand. At CWG a couple of weeks ago, Dallas Jenkins talked about using art to reach people. When I first became an editor (for a Christian publishing house, I might add), our managing editor stressed the importance of avoiding incorporating ”Christianese” into our resources. She wanted me to “think like a seeker.” What a great idea. I started reading over some of our material, and asking myself, If I hadn’t been raised in the church, if I didn’t know the lingo–would I get this? Would I understand? Maybe, maybe not.
Personally, I think this is okay sometimes, depending on the intended audience. The problem is when we never leave the inner circle. We never make an effort to reach beyond our borders. The silent mentality is that They should be more like us anyway. They’ll understand once they join our club. What’s wrong with this mentality? Everything, obviously.
In the world of writing, I think there’s room for just about anything. And I don’t think you have to compromise your standards in order to reach out to people who aren’t just like you. It’s not about compromising, it’s about wanting to reach someone so you go where they are. I think of Jesus being called a drunkard for hanging out with those rascals at the bar. He didn’t think twice about compromising his reputation, but I don’t believe He ever compromised who He was and what He was about. He was there to reach out, to love, to be…well, Jesus. Isn’t that why we love Him? It’s why I love Him. He came after me. He found me. He extended grace to me where I was.
Like I said, in the world of publishing, there’s room for everything. I’m a big fan of both Christian fiction/ nonfiction and secular fiction and nonfiction. I like commercial fiction and literary fiction. Even a little sci-fi. But I can also appreciate those writers who live dangerously, delicately weaving faith in stories reflecting real-life. And by real life, I’m talking about those uncomfortable areas that most of us pretend don’t exist. I felt this way the first time I read Lisa Samson’s book Club Sandwich. There’s this situation where the (Christian!) husband is always gone and the (Christian!) wife is lonely and ends up in a tricky situation with another guy. Gasp! Does this really happen? Um, yes. Read the book–it’s fabulous. It clearly shows the humanity of believers–and when this happens, the grace of God is even more beautiful.