By Eli King
I first had the idea for this newsletter/mini-mag back in February of 2010 while attending a seminar with Mr. Gregg Harris of Oregon. In it he mentioned how his son, Joshua, at the age of 14, was inspired to write a magazine aimed at teens after listening to the founder of WORLD magazine, Mr. Joel Belz, explain his own ideas. The magazine Josh ran was called “New Attitude,” and ran for a few years.
When I heard that, I thought: “what a good idea. Somebody should do that for young Christian writers, too.”
I didn’t say anything about it at the time, but it was an idea that was in and out of my head for nine months. I prayed about it and spent a great deal of time thinking about it, planning how I would do it if I actually did set out to write such a newsletter.
During that time the idea continually popped back into my head, and I was regularly coming up with new ideas for how it would work and be used. I saw a tool for the encouragement of teens around the country who, like me, want to write Christian fiction that is more than just “clean and family friendly,” but that is actually well-written and meaningful. A magazine-like setup that could serve as a place to learn, to share and to continually remind all of us of the only real reason we should ever write: to glorify Christ.
America needs good stories. More than that, America needs Christian stories. Stories that demonstrate with art and precision truths of God’s word and bring honor to Christ. I say America because I am an American and I can only speak for my country, but I am sure that the issues that presently plague our culture are not original to our shores.
America published 43,000 novels in 2007 (the latest year I could find). That number, by the way, includes collections of short stories. Out of those, how many are classified as “Christian”? I couldn’t find any numbers here (remember this note), but it doesn’t really matter. The point is this: of all the “Christian” novels that are published in a year, how many of these are really, truly written to honor Christ, and how many are Christian simply because they are considered “clean”? There is a huge difference between a clean book and a Christian book, and if Christ is cheapened to the level of “clean” then the cross itself suddenly becomes unbelievable. The cross itself, after all, is anything but clean.
We don’t need clean. We need truth — we need Scripture. I do not mean by this that we should write books full of gore, foul language and whatever else you could point to as being unclean. What I mean is that we need more than “clean”. We need truth, truth that is spoken in an educated, purposeful way. And we also need quality. God didn’t do a half-job creating you. Why should we deliver anything less than our very best when writing to honor Christ?
I find it interesting that Christ himself imparted a great many truths through what the Bible calls parables. Today, I might call them short stories, even though, technically, there is a difference. Christ told dozens of these, but what really interests me is how well-told they are. Jesus doesn’t come up to the crowd and tell the story of a man who slapped another man, but was forgiven, and then he slapped another man again. Instead, Jesus tells us the fascinating, heartbreaking story of a man who owed more than we can imagine (comparable to America’s national debt, as my Dad would say) and even though he was forgiven, he refused to even show patience to another man who owed him the equivalent of a few hundred dollars. He then tells of us of a third man, an honorable man who was troubled by the deeds of the servant who was forgiven, and who told the king. He tells us how the servant was thrown into jail until he could pay what he owed.
Jesus could have said “You’ve been forgiven a huge debt, therefore forgive others,” but instead he chose to tell one of the most incredible stories in the Bible. A story that impacts us, one that we think about and chew on for a while. We humans are a stubborn and foolish people, and personally, I get a far better idea of how much I was forgiven by reading that parable then I do if Jesus had simply said “You’ve been forgiven a huge debt, therefore forgive others.” In this story, I can see the weight, and magnitude of it all. I can feel the horror of how stupid unforgiveness is after I have been forgiven.
But Jesus does more than just tell stories of drama and impact. He tells us stories that teach of generosity (Matt. 20: 1-16), obedience (Matt. 21 28-32) and wisdom versus foolish unpreparedness (Matt. 25: 1-13). He also tells us stories that describe human character, and contrast faithfulness with fear, wickedness and slothfulness (Matt. 25: 14-30).
These are words of life. Words that aren’t just simple, cheaply plotted nothingness with even worse morals (“Believe in yourself” or “play nice with others”) slapped on like a cheap coat of paint. These are stories that are real, meaningful and lasting. These are the stories America needs.
I do not mean to ever imply that we will be able to tell stories like Christ can. Nor do I ever think that any book other than the Bible itself is needed to share the gospel. But I do believe that novelism is a tool that God has blessed us with to spread His truth and encourage His flock. It is a tool that has been wasted for too long, and the aim of this newsletter is to encourage young teens to take up that tool for Christ’s glory. More than a tool, really. I prefer the term weapon.
You may only want to write for a time. Maybe as a “hobby”, as some would call it. Or maybe you feel called to enter the world of fiction writing as a career. Either way, God has blessed us with the skills and desires to write stories, and we should never use those gifts for anything other than His glory.
We need a new generation of authors. Authors who are better than just “clean”. Authors who write good stories that are well-written, well-plotted and paced, intricately woven and centered on Christ. Enough cheap family media–movies and books that promise to be “great for the whole family” but really employ ill-crafted humor that keeps the kids laughing while mom and dad fall asleep.
We need fiction in America that capitalizes on the gifts God has given us. May Christ lead our lives, drives our lives, fill our lives and shine through our lives, and may our writing be salt and light to the world. That is the purpose and drive of this newsletter. To encourage teens to write this way for Christ. To start a war that’s already happening, and we are ignoring. Kingdom Pen is here to light that fire. To publish articles, short stories, poems, ect. from teens to encourage other teens to wield the pens God has given then to cut to the hearts of their culture and pour in the light of Christ.
I hope it is an encouragement to you, and also helpful in your work as one of God’s authors, soldiers and children.
“So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”
1 Corinthians 10:31
Volume 1, Issue One, Kingdom Pen magazine, February 2011.