Jump directly to the content
The Power of a Good Story

The Power of a Good Story

How fiction can transform marriages
Average Rating:
5 Comments

"Fiction?" he said. "You think it has the power to transform marriages? Isn't that a bit of a stretch? I mean … seriously."

"No," I said. "I am being serious."

Did this conversation really happen? No, it's fiction. I made it up as I anticipated how some might react to the claim in this article. But I really do believe well-written fiction can do far more than just entertain; it has the power to change people's lives.

I know it's true. It certainly has changed mine.

Before I began reading and writing fiction, I was a pastor for many years. Most pastors don't read fiction (not sure you knew that). Oh, they read. They read A LOT. They mostly (if not exclusively) read thick theology books and nonfiction books on Christian living. Books with answers to all the big questions of life and faith people keep asking them about.

I noticed a significant change in the way I thought about people, even the way I treated them, after I began reading fiction books. Even more so, after I began writing fiction myself. To put it plainly, I cared more. I noticed more. And I felt more.

I actually cry, sometimes several times, with every book I write. I cry while certain scenes are coming to me, as I write them, and months later?in some of those same places?when I edit the story. It doesn't seem to occur to me that I've made all this up in my head. The things the characters are going through just get to me. They affect the way I think and the way I feel.

I've read countless emails from people who've told me how God has changed their hearts in amazing and unexpected ways as they've read my books. Some people have felt stirred to forgive a spouse they'd been bitter toward for years. Fathers have felt convicted to put their families ahead of their careers. Wives have been inspired to believe God really could restore their marriages.

As a pastor for 25 years, besides officiating at weddings, my wife and I did a lot of premarital and marriage counseling, and I taught marriage and parenting seminars on many occasions over the years. Most of the content for those activities came from nonfiction teaching books on Christian marriage (books that had helped my wife and me in our own relationship). I still believe in those books, and many other good ones have been written since I retired from pastoral ministry.

But like I said, now I write novels.

The Reunion, my latest and sixth novel with Revell, has just released this month. For those who haven't read my books, magazine and blog reviewers often compare my work to bestselling authors Nicholas Sparks and Richard Paul Evans. Apparently, we are rather odd birds (male authors who write emotional love stories and family-life dramas). My novels are similar to theirs but carry a stronger Christian message.

No First PageNo Previous PagePage 1 of 3Next PageLast Page

Sign up for TCW's free Marriage Partnership e-newsletter for weekly updates and encouragement through the joys, trials, and tribulations of marriage.

not a subscriber?

Subscribe for only $9.95 yearly!
Start here for complete access to Today's Christian Woman—a mentor to help you love God more deeply and live fearlessly.

Next Steps

Downloadable resources to go deeper

Marriage in the Midst of Ministry

If you are involved in ministry, this download offers balance, perspective, and practical ideas for your marriage.

Women Who Persevered: Movie Discussion Guides

from GiftedForLeadership.com - The ideal accompaniment to your group's next film festival or movie night.

ratings & comments

Average User Rating:

Displaying 1–3 of 5 comments

Abigail

January 27, 2013  8:15pm

Thank you pastor, for giving me food for thought. I am one who also do not like fiction, as I felt taking time to read such, is "time wasted", but you "got me", as I have to agree with you that the parables that Jesus spoke are all stories, bringing out a lesson on truth, and the stories told by Jesus, do help to reach people, and transform lives. I have to agree with you one hundred percent about "fiction", helping people to make better decisions! This is good reading, and you convinced me. Thank you for being a blessing in writing fiction, so that many people can be benefited, and thank you for sharing truth with our readers.

Report Abuse

Becky

September 17, 2012  11:51am

This article was very helpful! As an aspiring wanna-be writer, I've been struggling with the very issues mentioned here. The reminders of how Jesus used stories to teach frees me to do the same, but with the caution in place to make sure that my stories really reveal God's heart and aren't just trivial entertainment.

Report Abuse

Lyn Cote

September 13, 2012  1:32pm

Try reading 2 Samuel 12 and see if a story can change a life!

Report Abuse

Rate and comment on this article: *

Low

High

1000 character limit

* Comments may be edited for tone and clarity.

More For Women
Gifted for Leadership

gifted for leadership

The Leadership Journal blog inspires and connects women leaders in church ministry
Her Meneutics

her.meneutics

The Christianity Today  women's site provides news and analysis for evangelical women
Shopping