Went to a new church today. Austin Bluffs Community in Colorado Springs. Ellie hasn’t been enjoying church, much like a lot of us, I suppose. She’s a bit more demonstrative about it, but the sentiment is the same: “Get me out of here. I don’t belong here. You guys just have no idea how little I care about anything going on here.”
So I left mommy and baby in the nursery and went to hear the sermon. Pastor Pauls spoke on the disciplines of change: how to persevere and cultivate proper perspective, how to balance between letting God work and working for God. It was a great sermon and I identified many problems I’ve been running into in talking about the change I’m calling for in Christian writing.
Sometimes when I’m reading manuscript submissions, I feel like Ellie. I start crying and fussing, and hugging my chair. “Mommy! Mommy! Mommy!” You think I’m kidding, but they can be pretty scary. A lot of this industry (and a lot of life) is like that. We don’t want to deal with the scary reality of change, we just want to cry and fuss and whine about it so we feel better momentarily. We don’t want to be stretched (or “challenged,” if you prefer Evangelicalisms). But I “challenge you” to consider that’s just the way life is: scary.
The first lesson in the revolution—or the rennovation, or the rennaissance, or whatever—is the same exercise required to begin enjoying church and using our gifts and having an impact in the CBA market: Commit to loving your reader as yourself. The same scary CBA bookbuyers I’ve been complaining about are the people of that church, whether I like it or not and they need my input, my insight and talents, my concern and care for their lives. That’s the first part of being a Christian and I think I just might finally get it. And isn’t this the same practice you need to be a successful, revolutionary writer?
So if you’re following this, here’s where I am so far: 1) The problem: CBA caters to baby Christians and safety-conscious readers. 2) The first part of the solution: We need writers who love them enough to understand their fears and sacrifice to publish books that say what they need to hear.
Does that sound revolutionary? Few will make it this far, but if I can accept this challenge to develop God’s love for those readers, I think I’ll have finally realized one of the critical lessons I’ll need for this revolutionary writing life.
Now. If you’re hearing this and you already agree, you’re right where you need to be. Don’t go anywhere. I’m just catching up with you.