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Change in the Inspirational Market May 22, 2011

Posted by Ronica Stromberg in Uncategorized.
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The inspirational (Christian) market is selling increasingly more fiction, but what used to be a staple in the fiction has changed. In years past, inspirational fiction often included a conversion scene in which a character came to believe and trust in Jesus Christ. Now characters in inspirational fiction are more likely to already be Christians, and inspy books trace their journey as they grow stronger in their faith.

I think this change came as publishers of inspy fiction realized the people most likely to purchase their books are already Christians. The conversion scenes came to be viewed as a cliche, something tacked on to the end of a book to make it Christian (and, with high hopes, the reader). As it became clear that readers of inspy fiction are mainly Christians, the books focused less on evangelism and more on spiritual growth (besides the unchanging focus on entertainment).

I have mixed feelings about this change. My young adult novel, A Shadow in the Dark, includes a conversion scene while its companion book, Living It Up to Live It Down, follows the spiritual growth of two teens. I felt it important to include the conversion scene because, when I was a child, I’d searched for that in books but had difficulty finding it. I didn’t have much access to inspirational fiction, and the few inspy books I found always seemed to abbreviate the conversion scene.  The plot would build up to it, and then the conversion itself would be summed up in a brief sentence such as “They prayed.” After that, everything would be wonderful. I always wondered, What did they pray? I didn’t think there were any magical words one needed to say to be a Christian, but I craved an example nonetheless.

I still believe there are children and teens seeking spiritual insights in what they read–even as deep or basic as how to become a Christian–and the inspirational market should take that role and never let go.



1. Julie - July 15, 2011

I too am missing the conversion scene in Christian fiction. I’m finding that so-called Christian fiction is very watered down. It seems that if an author mentions God that the publishers can then slap the label “Christian” on it. I’m also finding that the characters have vague faith. There are very few Christian novels that I read that have a strong Christian character. I agree with your statement, “I still believe there are children and teens seeking spiritual insights in what they read–even as deep or basic as how to become a Christian–and the inspirational market should take that role and never let go.” Amen!

Ronica Stromberg - July 15, 2011

Julie, since writing this post, I’ve read two classic novels, Captains Courageous and Journey to the Center of the Earth. Both of them include references to God and mention the faith of characters, and in Chapter 8 of Journey to the Center of the Earth, the main character prays to God, “asking heaven for assistance.” These books weren’t considered religious in their time, but they have more discussion of God than do some of the current inspirational books. I had noticed this earlier when I reread some childhood classics. For instance, in Misty of Chincoteague, the author, Marguerite Henry, mentions several times that the children go to Sunday school. So, I don’t think a few offhand remarks about God or church make a book “Christian.” I know you review Christian novels, so I’m not surprised you’ve noticed the trend toward “watering down” Christianity in them. I feel better knowing I’m not the only one interested in novels with full-strength Christianity.

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