5 Ways to Get Involved with Your School Ministry

Close-up Photography of Bible

I mentioned a few weeks ago that I was starting a series on starting a ministry at your school. But before we get into those details, I want to address one thing: how to get involved if your school already has an existing ministry. If there’s a ministry at your school that’s going strong or even a fledgling group that’s just starting up, and you want to support it rather than trying to start your own, here’s how!

1. Attend the meetings consistently.

Start going to the meetings as consistently as you can, if you don’t already. This will show the leaders your commitment and dedication, and help you understand the ministry and what it stands for. Learn more about it: how did it get started? How long has it been around? How has it evolved and changed over the years?

2. Ask how you can get involved.

Once you’re more familiar with the ministry and you know you want to get involved, it’s as simple as this: mention to the leadership that you’re interested in helping it, and ask how you can get involved. Once they know you’re willing, opportunities will start to come your way.

Be willing to start small. Provide snacks, help set up and clean up, etc. even if you aren’t officially a leader yet. It’s the people who are constantly around and helping that the leaders will remember when they choose people to add to their team.

3. Find ways to really use your gifts to add to the ministry.

Figure out your unique strengths and skills as a leader, and then use those in conjunction with the other leaders’ differing strengths to create a strong team. Find the things that you’re really good at and pour yourself into doing those things for the ministry.

4. If there are things you don’t like about the ministry, take initiative and work to improve them.

This is always better than complaining! If, as you start to get more involved, you realize things about the ministry that you don’t like, don’t gossip or complain, and don’t give up hope. You can do something about it. Talk to the other leaders, or the adults involved, and make the changes that will make the ministry better.

5. Don’t be afraid to take on leadership responsibilities that challenge you or make you feel uncomfortable.

As you get more involved, step outside your comfort zone, and be willing to try new things and learn new skills. Worst-case scenario, it doesn’t work out, and you step back and let someone else try – or you might discover something you are good at that you never realized before. Use your leadership position as an opportunity for learning and growth.

Those are just a few ideas for getting involved with an existing ministry at your school. Next, we’ll get into the step-by-step for starting a ministry from scratch, from finding leaders to planning meetings to promoting your events. I’m looking forward to it, and I hope you are too!

love, grace

Why Are School Ministries Important? (+My Experience)

Five People Wearing Clothes Behind Gray Wall

Today, I’m announcing a new series that will continue off and on for the next few months: how to start a Christian club/ministry group at your school! This will be specifically more geared toward high school students, since that’s where I have experience, but can also apply to college. We’ll dig into discovering your mission, finding leaders, how to promote yourself, dealing with secular administrations, and more!

I was involved with a Christian club at my public high school for all four years, three of those as a leader. It was a pretty small club, although the size fluctuated back and forth a bit during my time there, and we met once a week to play games, do a Bible study, and pray together. As a leader, I was responsible for teaching the Bible study every so often, as well as a variety of other responsibilities that changed and increased as the years went by, finally being completely in charge in my senior year.

I have a lot of thoughts and experience in this area, and I can’t wait to share them with you! If you have questions as we go along, please share in the comments, as I’d love to do a question-and-answer post at the end.

Before we get started, I want to touch on one fundamental thing: why are these school ministries important? What is their purpose and place in a secular educational environment?

They can serve several different purposes. Christian clubs can be more outreach-focused, involved in serving and getting to know unbelievers and sharing the gospel with them. They can also be more fellowship-focused (which is what my experience was), reaching out to believers in the public school system and providing a place where they can meet other Christians and be encouraged and strengthened in their faith.

Either way, Christian clubs and ministries in public schools are a wonderful way to fulfill the Great Commission. They provide a beam of light in places that are often otherwise very dark, and their simple presence in a public school is a silent message to the world.

As a teenager, you might feel like there isn’t much you can do to share the gospel right now, especially in the loudness of today’s world. But getting involved with a ministry group at your school is a great way to begin! And if there isn’t already a group at your school, why not take a leap and start one yourself? There are almost always Christians hiding in the woodwork who will be willing to support you. Stop hiding, and become a presence in your school. The rest of this series will tell you how.

Does your school have a Christian ministry? If so, are you involved? If not, have you ever considered starting one? Share in the comments! 

love, grace

P.S. 4 Ways to Pray for Your School

How to Set Goals as a Christian

Three Red, Green, and Yellow Printer Papers

The new year is a common time to focus on goal setting. It’s a time when dreams, aspirations, and hopes for the future are on the minds of everyone, overflowing in endless resolutions and plans. I honestly love this time of year: I’m a planner at heart, and goal setting gives me so much joy. I love the atmosphere of a fresh start, of a clean slate, of new and exciting things waiting just around the bend.

Today I want to share a little bit about my goal planning process and what some of my goals are; but first, why set goals? And how do we do it from a Christian perspective?

Should Christians Set Goals?

Goals can be a good thing or a bad thing for the Christian. They can be a wonderful tool that we use to become closer to God and pursue His glory through our lives. Like anything, however, they can also become an idol, something that we use to try to live self-sufficiently rather than resting on God’s grace and sovereignty.

I have definitely pursued goals for all of the wrong reasons in the past: I’m a perfectionist, and I have a tendency to want to do everything all at once and by myself. My goals can so easily make me too busy for God, or cause me to compartmentalize God as one more item on my to-do list. But I’ve been growing into taking a more balanced, grace-based approach to goal setting.

One suggestion I can give for faith-based goal setting is to understand the “why” behind everything you are trying to accomplish. Are your goals motivated by a pursuit of God and His glory? Or by self-glorification and selfish motives? When you have the right motive, and you keep it in the front of your mind throughout the year, you will be sure that your goals are driven by a desire to honor God and that they will not drive you further away.

Additionally, when your goals are connected to the big picture of God’s glory, you will be much more likely to seek Him in everything you are doing, seeking His Spirit and His leading. Consequently, you will be much more likely to stay motivated, since you will be drawing on God’s great well of encouragement and strength to get out of bed each morning rather than trying to push yourself through life.

The most important way to honor God with your goals is to go through the planning process prayerfully, seeking what God has taught you in the last year and what His will for you is in the new year. It might not always be super clear, but seek His voice to the best of your ability, and have an open mind to be willing to switch gears in the middle of the year if the Holy Spirit leads you in a different direction. It’s okay to change your goals as you grow and change! You should be flexible and have an open mind, focusing on progress and not perfection.

How I Set Goals

For my goal setting, I’ve been using Powersheets.

This is only the second year I’ve used Image result for powersheetsthem, but I really love the approach they take. Cultivate What Matters is a Christian company, and I would definitely recommend checking out the Cultivate Blog, as well as the blog of Lara Casey, the founder. I have found of both these to be wonderful resources on goal setting from a Christian perspective, and even if you don’t get the Powersheets, there are tons of free resources as well!

The Powersheets take you through a series of journaling prompts to uncover your best goals for the year, help you plan action steps and figure out your “why” for each goal, and then include monthly journaling and trackers to help you remain focused throughout the year.

Some of the journaling prompts include:

  • A life evaluation where you score eight different areas of your life from 1-10
  • Good things, challenges, and lessons learned in the previous year
  • What you are saying “no” and “yes” to in the coming year (for me, staying in my comfort zone, seeking mountaintop moments, a fixed mindset vs. faithfulness in the small things, diligence over perfection, time in God’s presence)
  • What fires you up (i.e. the beach! looking at the stars! laughing really hard! a good book! people you love!)
  • Choosing a word for the year

Then you comb through all of your journaling so far, find the common threads, and turn those into goal ideas. Those goal ideas get grouped together under “goal buckets” that bring together the ones with common themes. By the end, you have anywhere from 1 to 10 big goals that you further break down and plan for in the year ahead. It’s a great process to uncover what really matters to you and stop setting arbitrary resolutions.

My Goals for The Year

To demonstrate how this practically works, here are just a few of my umbrellas for the year, along with explanations of my “why” and some of the smaller goals I’m working toward along the way.

Faith // I feel like I grew a lot in my faith last year, and I want to continue on that path of growth. This is the bedrock of my entire life, and none of my other goals will be worth anything unless I am connected to God and wholeheartedly pursuing Him first.

Breakdown of this category: do consistent daily devotions//invite God into my everyday life more and more//go to as many campus ministry events as possible

Career // I have three areas which I am pursuing seriously at this point in my life: English education, dance, and writing. These are the three areas where I feel gifted and called to pursue God’s glory, and I need to commit to diligent, day-by-day work if I’m ever going to get anywhere. Planting the seeds for a fruitful ministry through my career begins now.

Breakdown of this category: get good grades in my classes//keep a dance journal//really commit to each dance class//write blog posts consistently//work consistently on novel revisions

Finances // Money has always been something that I largely took for granted, felt guilty about, or just generally didn’t put much effort into. But God has given me money to use as a practical tool for his glory. This year, I want to create a good foundation for the way in which I save and spend money, creating habits now to support an adulthood of financial freedom. In the shorter term, I’d really like to buy a car sooner rather than later, and graduate college with as little debt as possible.

Breakdown of this category: get jobs on campus and in the summer//make and stick to a budget//do more journaling and planning to uncover a few other ways I can make progress (using this supplement)

Rest // There are many activities in my life that fill my soul and give me restoration and refreshment. But when I get busy, I tend to forget about those ideas and immediately go to things like social media and YouTube. I want to do more of the things that bring joy to the everyday, that keep me happy and filled on a daily basis.

Breakdown of this category: read 50 books//spend time outside daily//learn to identify constellations//play the piano weekly//make space for conversation, whether deep or ridiculous

These aren’t all of my goals, but a few of the main things I’m working toward in 2019. Hopefully this helped you gain some perspective on Christian goal setting, and I may revisit some of these at the end of the year to share things I learned and how I’m continuing to grow!

Do you set goals or resolutions in the new year? What is your process? Or do you hate resolutions and prefer to wing it? Share in the comments! 

love, grace

P.S. Three Habits to Cultivate Now

Transitions: How I Stay Organized

Personal organizer and pink flowers on desk

One of the biggest challenges for many people in college is keeping everything organized.  There are so many things to juggle: academic classes, extracurriculars, campus events, jobs, homework, workouts, friends, spiritual life, keeping up with family, pursuing hobbies and relaxing…

As my advisor told me the other day, learning to manage time is the single most important element for succeeding in college. And it can be overwhelming. But I’ve figured out a system that works really well, and honestly is very simple, which I’m going to share with you today. This is what I do to stay on top of everything that’s important to me.

My organizational system is guided by this one major principle: immediately write everything down in one place. 

  • Get a planner. This can be physical or electronic.
  • Every time you commit to something, schedule something, find out about a deadline, or think of something you need or want to do, write it down in there immediately. You will develop your own system for how you organize this information. But the biggest thing is to get it written down.
  • Then, when you’re trying to plan your day, you won’t have to worry about forgetting things or having random sticky notes scattered around your dorm. It will all be there.

This doesn’t mean you won’t ever forget about something or leave it to the last minute, but if you can form this one simple habit it will go a long way toward your organization.

So, what does this look like in my life?

My Planner

I currently use a Day Designer planner. I’ve tried both paper planners and electronic ones, and while the electronic ones are more convenient in some ways, I just prefer writing things down on physical paper. I’ve also tried Erin Condren (excellent but very expensive) and Plum Paper (also really good, slightly cheaper). My planner is where I write down scheduled events, deadlines, and miscellaneous to-dos.

 

I cheat a little bit from my own rules and actually have two places that I write things down, because I also use Powersheets, a Christian goal planner that guides you through goal-setting at the beginning of the year and then at the beginning of each month. I use this for long-term goals that don’t have set deadlines, which I then transfer into my daily to-do lists in my actual planner.

 

My Planning System

First of all, at the beginning of the semester, I wrote down every single assignment or test from every syllabus on the day it was due in my planner. I definitely recommend doing this immediately; that way you don’t have to keep checking back to your syllabus if you forgot what things are due.

At the beginning of the month, I do the following:

  • Fill out my Powersheets for the month. This is how I keep track of the goals that are important to me but don’t have upcoming deadlines (writing and other creative pursuits, health and spiritual growth, etc.)
  • Write down blog posts on each Saturday in my planner with my other deadlines so I remember to get them done.
  • Write down any birthdays with my other deadlines so that I know to prepare for them.

And then here is how I plan my day:

  • The planner I use has a schedule side and a to-do list side. I write my schedule out first, checking my calendar for anything unusual and then filling in my daily routine of classes and activities. I also fill in the times I’ll use to get ready, do devotions, eat, sleep, etc. Whatever time is left is my “to-do” time, at which point I’ll refer to the to-do list on the other side of the page.
  • Next I make my to-do list. I start by looking an entire month ahead at all of the deadlines I have coming up, and making note of what I need to get done or start working on so that I can get it done by the deadline/due date. I like to work on things in several sittings, usually, rather than getting it all done the night before. Some people might work better in one sitting, so figure out what works for you!
  • Once I have all of those urgent to-dos written down, if I still think I’ll have time accomplish more, I add household tasks that need to get done like laundry and cleaning. Then I go to my Powersheets and pull things from there until I have a list that fits the timeframe that I have that day.

Here’s an example of what a typical day will look like:

And that’s pretty much it! Sometimes I’ll put stars next to the top three things I need to get done, but I don’t always do that. It’s honestly not a complicated system but it requires diligence to stick to the schedule and the list each day, and careful thought about what my priorities are and how I’m going to use my time.

Time management is actually one of my favorite things to talk about, so let me know if you have other questions or want to see more on this, or even want to hear more about the philosophy of time management from a Christian perspective! I know my posts have been getting more practical and less spiritual lately, but there’s still plenty of spiritual content coming. I wanted this series to be helpful in a variety of areas for people who are going to college soon, so stay tuned for more of both practical and spiritual advice, and share in the comments how you manage your time!

love, grace

Transitions: Making Friends in College

Silhouette of Four People Against Sun Background

One of the things I was most looking forward to about college was the chance to start over socially. I’m at a small college far away from home, and so I didn’t know a single person going in, except my roommate, and we had only met in person once. I had heard that the social situation in college is much different than high school, and it definitely was, especially for the first few weeks.

My biggest advice for the beginning of college is to go to as many activities and events as possible. At the beginning, there will likely be a lot of things going on to help freshmen get settled in, so take advantage of that. Even though I’m the type of person who tends to want to stay at home, I pushed myself to go to those kinds of things right away. I found that if I put myself out there and did things, it was very easy to meet people. With everyone trying to find friends, there’s an environment of openness and inclusion that is very cool.

Something else I didn’t expect is how close you can become with people after a very short period of time. My roommate and I felt like best friends after only a few days. And in five weeks I’ve already had some incredibly deep and vulnerable conversations with people. Late nights, especially, are breeding grounds for good conversation with random people in the lobby of your dorm.

And it’s true that there will be some people who you click with more than others. Find those people who you really enjoy talking to and being around, and then spend as much time with them as possible right away, before your classes get really busy. If you can establish a few promising friendships immediately, they will maintain themselves as schedules get crazy, and you will have those people to fall back on if things go wrong or you need support. Then you can expand your social life from there as the semester goes on.

And it is important to continue expanding your friend group! I found those few close friends right away, and a group of us formed who have been spending a lot of time together. It’s easy for me to stick with the same people; it’s comfortable and validating to have a “group”. But I’m working to make sure I don’t get too set in my clique. I want to meet a wide variety of people, and I want our group to be welcoming of others. So I’m starting to make an effort to sit with different people at meals and talk with people I don’t know as well, while still balancing time with the friendships I’ve already developed.

As we settle into the semester, the biggest struggle for me is how much I want to feel included and liked. I have to constantly remind myself that it isn’t my goal to be liked by others, but to bless others. I shouldn’t be trying to make sure I feel welcomed and included, but trying to make others feel welcomed and included, showing everyone love as fellow image-bearers of God.

Ultimately, friendships are a beautiful gift from God. Creating new relationships takes patience and trust, but if I walk in faith, seeking to follow His design for how I interact with fellow humans, those relationships will develop with time. I’ve been so blessed already and I can’t wait to continue to grow in my relationships with all of the new people in my life.

How have you made friends in a new situation? 

love, grace

Transitions: Moving In and Settling Down

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Move-in day: probably one of the most iconic and also most stressful days of freshman year. A few weeks ago, I had mine, transitioning my whole life to a little college in Mississippi. I’ve gotten settled in and learned a lot along the way, and I want to share some of that with you today.

Before we get to the big thing I’ve been learning, here are a few little tips to make moving in and settling in a lot less stressful:

One: Don’t try to pack everything. Make a list as you pack and then go to Target or somewhere once you get there to save space in your car. Things you can buy there include snacks, paper towels, cleaning supplies, decorations and command hooks, etc. (On a side note, make sure you have a good stock of snacks! You’ll need them.)

Two: Bring a board game or card game or something. It will be fun to share in social situations. You might think you won’t use it – you actually will.

Three: Make a to-do list for the day! The day I moved in, there was so much going on, so many little things that needed to get done, and I tried to keep it all in my head. Not a good strategy. Write down anything that you think of; that way you can focus on one thing at a time without worrying about forgetting things.

Four: I have my bed raised pretty high off the ground, and I made a little nook underneath it with a rug and a bunch of pillows. It’s such a nice place to sit and study, it’s where I do my devotions, etc. I would recommend it!

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Five: Use your first few days to get the lay of the land. Figure out where your classes are and where other things are on campus that you might need. Check your mail. Find the library. Etc.

Six: Try not to stay up ridiculously late right away. It’s not summer camp, even though it might feel like it – you have to maintain your life for a whole semester. Especially if you like your roommate, it feels like a sleepover initially. It’s okay to enjoy some of that, but try not to go too crazy.

Seven: Unpack everything as quickly as possible and get it organized. Starting out that way for a few days is nice while you get your footing. But know that it likely won’t stay that way, which leads me to the big lesson I’ve been learning so far…

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It’s okay for things to be a mess.

In general, I’m a very organized person. I like things to be neat and nice, everything in its proper place, easy to keep track of. But since I got to college, I’ve had less and less time to clean and organize. There’s not a lot of surface space in my dorm, so everything gets piled on the desk most of the time. And I’m learning to be okay with that.

Here’s the thing: life is not about cleanliness. Life is about the pursuit of God, and living each day in light of eternity. To put it bluntly, organization for its own sake is pointless and a waste of time.

Yes, God is a God of order, and we are called to be good stewards of the possessions He has given us. But taken to extremes, the pursuit of organization can become a distraction from better and more important things. Everything we do in our lives should be for the sake of the kingdom of God, and so the only reason to clean and do laundry and other things of that nature is so that the disorder won’t hinder our kingdom work. 

If it’s a little bit messy, that’s okay. Maybe your time would be better spent reading your Bible, or ministering to a friend who needs encouragement, or pouring yourself into the local church. It comes down to priorities. What is in our hearts? Are we making organization an idol? Or is it one more means to the ultimate end of seeking God’s glory throughout our whole lives?

As I’m getting settled into college, I’m realizing more and more that I don’t have the time to make sure my dorm always looks perfect. There are bigger and better things happening that need my care and attention. As long as I can continue living, the mess is okay.

Do you make organization an idol? How are you learning to embrace the mess in everyday life? If you’re in college, what move-in tips do you have? 

love, grace

Confession Reflections: The One Key to the Christian Life

Close-up Photography of Bible

Recently I’ve begun studying the Westminster Confession of Faith during my personal devotions. I’ve grown up in the PCA church, and decided that it was time for me to really understand my denomination’s core beliefs and make sure that I agree with them.  And as I read through, I want to share my thoughts and reflections on various topics with you! 

Today: from Chapter 1, Of the Holy Scripture, section 1. 

This section of the Confession talks about the two ways that God reveals Himself: in the created world, and in His Word.

I love the idea that creation reveals God. His power and creativity are obvious the moment you step outside and see the trees, the sky, and everything He has made.

I’ve especially loved learning about space in my astronomy class this past school year, and I don’t understand how anyone can possibly think that such vast beauty happened by chance. How could the Earth have ended up in exactly the right spot for life to form, the right distance away from the Sun, by chance? How is everything so perfectly suspended in nothingness, moving like clockwork, by chance?

Here’s my favorite: did you know that Jupiter is positioned in exactly the right place to make it Earth’s bodyguard, that it catches asteroids and other debris long before they can hit the Earth and destroy humanity? How can something like that be arranged by chance?

This is why there is no excuse for not believing in God. Every mountain and tree and star proclaims His existence, practically screams it, and no one can say they “didn’t know”.

But of course, creation is not enough, and that is why God gave us His Word. The splendor and wonder and beauty of the natural world is meant to draw us to Scripture, to lead us into reading the Bible, trying to discover everything we can about the God who made us.

And as we read, we learn everything else we need to know: who God is, who we are, how the world works, how to find salvation, and how to live our lives.

The Bible is absolutely critical to the Christian life; reading a devotional every morning isn’t going to cut it. We must get into God’s Word regularly. Only by reading it will we know the truth. Only by reading it will we be able to decide for ourselves what we believe. Only by reading it will we be able to resist temptation, live by the Spirit, and glorify God with our lives. If we really call ourselves Christians, we have to read it, study it, and love it.

Reading the Bible isn’t a legalistic rule, a “have-to” that makes you a good Christian. It’s a privilege, a “get-to”. The God of the universe has given us His Words! Yes, it may take diligence at first to create the habit. But the more you read, the more the Holy Spirit will fill you and cause you to enjoy Scripture, to crave it and thirst for it.

So start now. Pick up your Bible and start reading. A little every day will go a long way.

love, grace

Advice to My Freshman Self: Get Involved

action, athletes, black and white

Four years ago, I entered the world of public school for the first time. There are so many things that I wish I knew then, and my hope is that by sharing those things with you, I can help you make the most of your high school experience.

First of all, get involved. 

As a freshman, I was shy, and doing new things scared me. So I didn’t.

As a senior, I really regret it. This year I’ve been finding my feet and trying more things that used to intimidate me. Volunteering at choir events. Doing Latin competitions. And so on. Every single time, I wish that I had started sooner and had more years to participate.

So my biggest advice for teens, especially middle schoolers and young high schoolers, is to get involved in something now. Don’t wait. The things that you are afraid to try? Those will often end up being your best memories of high school.

Especially if you are an introvert, don’t let fear of new social situations keep you from doing things that sound fun. You will almost never regret doing more and going places, at least to a certain extent. It’s how you will feel included, find friends, and enjoy yourself throughout your teen years.

If you’re already involved in a performing art or sport or something, make it your goal to get even more involved. Go for more days each week. Take the extra opportunities that are offered. Find ways to serve and give back to your organization.

If you go to a public school, stay up-to-date on what’s going on. Especially during your freshman year, try everything that interests you at least once. You can narrow it down later to the ones you really care about.

If you’re homeschooled or your school doesn’t have a lot of opportunities, seek them out. Take classes in your town, join a sports team, get involved with your co-op if you have one, do community theater, etc.

And in the later years of high school, once you know where your interests lie, choose a few things that you can invest in and be fully a part of. Don’t just be nominally involved. Be someone who shows up for everything, volunteers for everything, signs up for everything.

I’m not saying that you should overload yourself; you need balance, time to study and sleep and hang out with your family. But as a freshman, balance wasn’t the advice I needed. I have no problem keeping time for my own pursuits. The advice I needed was this: don’t let fear of a full schedule keep you from trying things that look interesting. You can always take a step back if you get overwhelmed.

Do the things that you’re good at. Do the things that interest you. Don’t let fear hold you back. That is how you will make friends, learn your strengths, and start to use your talents for God’s glory.

What do you think? How involved are you at your school or in your community? Which do you struggle with more: balancing your schedule or fear of getting involved? Share in the comments! 

love, grace

Read more:

Three Habits to Cultivate Now (+giveaway winner!)

Transitions: Learning to Trust God Through College Applications

7 Things I Learned at Public High School (Guest Post at Apple Trees and Pumpkin Seeds)

Should Christians Read Fiction?

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For the past little while, we’ve been exploring what it means to use the arts well as a Christian. I’ve argued that the arts are important for Christians to pay attention tothey are a valid career path for Christians, and that as Christians, our art should be of the highest quality.

Today and next week, I want to look at two very specific types of art, ones that I am personally involved in, ones that I feel some Christians look askance at. I want to explain why I believe they are important and why I believe God created them.

First up? Fiction. Storytelling. The art of writing, of crafting plot and characters and settings to explore themes. I write fiction, although I don’t talk about it much on here, and I believe that it is such an important element of the human experience as God created us.

Whatever is True?

I remember stumbling on one of my mom’s homeschool books when I was much younger, a book where the author talked about her family only read nonfiction or fiction that could be real. They didn’t allow fairy tales, fantasy, mythology, talking animals, etc., using Philippians 4:8 (“Whatever is true…”) as their reasoning.

Even at a young age, that bothered me. Partially because I had already fallen in love with fantasy stories and stories in general, and I wondered if it was wrong to read those things, if I should give them up.

But as I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized why it really bothered me even then.

What Fiction Does

As Christians, storytelling is one of the means God has given us to reveal his truth. When we limit this storytelling to only representing things that happen in the “real world”, we lose a hugely powerful avenue of witnessing to truth and beauty.

Different genres have different purposes, but all fiction serves several important purposes.

Through fiction, we see the world through different eyes and gain the ability to empathize with people who are different from us.

Through fiction, we get to see how the universal truth of God’s Word plays out in a variety of situations that we will never actually experience.

Through fiction, we gain a more well-rounded understanding of God’s character than we would in the course of our everyday lives.

What About Fantasy?

I want to look at fantasy specifically for a second. Even though so many Christians avoid it like the plague, I think fantasy is so important. Through made-up worlds and magic and epic quests, truth and beauty find one of their best representations.

The best fantasy books are those that look seriously at real issues. By taking those issues into a made-up setting, we can consider them detached from the baggage they carry in the real world. Because of that, we can see the problems and their solutions more clearly.

The other thing fantasy does really well: illustrate the clash between good and evil. In fantasy, we see over and over that good always wins, that evil will ultimately be defeated. There is an ongoing battle between good and evil in the supernatural realm of the real world; in fantasy, without the limitations of the natural world, it is much easier to represent the truth of this fight in the way that does it justice.

The Impact of Fiction

Ultimately, fiction and nonfiction must work together. Nonfiction expresses the truth, and fiction illustrates the truth. Fiction takes nonfiction’s ideas, adds dimension, and makes them beautiful. Fiction shows the truth to us in the light of people and places and stories.

Fiction has the potential to impact the world for incredible good. The truths we learn through fiction often stay with us forever, changing our lives more than the most helpful self-help book. That is a power that Christians need to be harnessing and using for the glory of God.

And as for Philippians 4:8, there is often more truth in stories of talking animals and magic wands than there is in the most realistic of contemporary novels.

What do you think? Do you read fiction? Fantasy? What impact has fiction had on your life? 

love, grace

Read more:

4 Ways to Read More During the School Year (+book recommendations!)

Writing for Building Up (or, I’m Tired of Depressing Stories)

Why I Don’t Limit Myself to “Christian” Entertainment

We Need Higher-Quality Christian Art.

quality art

Today’s Christian media needs some help. Granted, there are some good Christian artists out there. But for the most part, Christian music is shallow and repetitive. Christian books are cliched, and Christian movies are cheesy.

Christian art should not have this reputation. We have so much to share, so much truth and beauty to express in the things we create – so why do Christians continue to recycle cliches and chords and characters to give people a fuzzy feel-good moment rather than a teary-eyed sense of God’s majesty?

“Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.” -Colossians 3:23-24

God demands our best, our diligence, in whatever we have been called to. And this extends to the arts, certainly. If we feel called to a life of creativity, we must then seek to do our best, to learn our craft, to produce things that honor God by showing His excellence. In order to do that, our art has to be objectively good.

A Christian message is not enough. If something is badly written or badly made, it doesn’t matter how many Christian messages it has crammed into it; those messages will not make it automatically good. And the art will not have the impact that it could have.

Our art could be an incredible witness to the world. But if we want it to show the excellencies of God, it has to first be excellent. So, Christian, learn how to do your craft well. Practice often. Don’t be a perfectionist; that’s not what this is about. But put effort into your creativity, knowing that we will never make an impact with books and movies and music that are forgettable and poorly-made.

 

If you are an artist, how do you seek to improve your craft in order to better serve God? Who are some of your favorite artists who create both high-quality and Christian media? Share in the comments! 

love, grace