109. How Should Local Churches Support Christian-Made Fantasy?
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If your church has a bookstore or lending library, you’ll probably find lots of nonfiction in there, such as Christian living resources, Bible studies, and discipleship material. But we know people also get their discipleship training through stories and songs. Almost every church has the songs covered, with singing in worship and maybe a whole ministry team devoted to music. But should church bookstores and libraries offer more fiction? We might even ask: should churches have “story pastors” to help disciple others through story, just like the “music minister” does this through music? What could this look like?
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- Of course, many churches are short-staffed, and many ministries are volunteer-led.
- So your real-life mileage may vary. This episode will explore a speculative church position.
- We often focus on Christian fantasy, yet here we also focus on general Christian fiction.
- Our concept isn’t primarily about harnessing secular popular culture for ministry use.
- We do include this concept, yet focus on Christian-made stories, particularly books.
1. The Story Pastor as cultivator
- Starts by utilizing the existing body of Christian fiction.
- Finds trusted partners in cultivating great Christian fiction.
- Finds and highlights classic stories with much to offer Christians.
- Seeks great new stories in circulation, not chasing novelty, but keeping an open mind.
- Finds great stories by creators within the denomination, church body, or city.
- Puts all these stories in a church library, church bookstore, or church catalog.
- Finds resource guides and commentaries for these stories.
- Also finds commentaries and resources on stories from popular culture.
2. The Story Pastor as shepherd
- Fosters a theology and love of fiction in the local church body.
- Leads a book club or a group of leaders of book clubs.
- Maintains a steady diet of fiction within the church.
- Might find Christian writers in the local church and city.
- Leads and nurtures a local group of writers.
- Leads other (non-fiction) storytellers in the church.
- Must the story pastor be a pastor, especially in smaller churches?
- Couldn’t the story pastor be a story steward, teaching yet not as an elder?
- In this case, why couldn’t a church’s story steward “office” be held by a woman?
3. The Story Pastor as creator
This third role is optional; not every music pastor is a composer, so not every story pastor is an author. However, a few writers will take on this role. If so, the Story Pastor:
- Creates his own content: short stories, novels, or screenplays.
- Writes his own resource guides for other Christian stories.
- Writes commentaries and resources on popular culture stories.
- Connects with other Christian writers in the denomination, city, region, and genre.
One hero in the Lorehaven Guild enjoyed episode 108 about resurrection:
It’s challenging to think about how the fact of physical resurrection, both Christ’s and our own future renewed life, ought to impact how we live and think and imagine.
Readers appreciated Marian Jacobs’s article Sensual Scenes in Fiction Pose Unique Temptations to Women:
Thank you for this. I have struggled with lust for years, mainly aided by books and TV. I know to look at reviews before watching now, but books are a lot harder. Even books marketed as Christian get uncomfortable sometimes and it’s often hard to know which those are without stumbling into them. By then, my emotions are already engaged and it’s hard to stop.
Thanks for this, Marian. I always find your articles thoughtful, and this needed to be said.
Next on Fantastical Truth
We’re doing an informal sequel to this episode, based on a phrase that Zack has recently mentioned about a possible coming “golden age” of Christian fantastical fiction. Stephen believers we are not yet there and may not arrive at such an age until the New Heavens and New Earth. But if we did find a “golden age” on this present Earth, what would that look like, and what kinds of stories would we expect to see flying off the shelves into the hands of eager readers?
Explore the best Christian-made fantasy, sci-fi, and beyond, and apply these stories' meanings in the real world Jesus calls us to serve.
I volunteer as lay story pastor!
I am the Pastor of a small church, and I have written several short stories. I recently began to consider how I could incorporate stories into my sermons. As preachers we often use illustrations, which are usually true stories, however I believe a “modern parable,” could be helpful as well.