Too Much Christian Talk?

My husband took me out to breakfast. I ordered something I don’t have every day, eggs and home fried potatoes. Unfortunately, the potatoes were too salty, which ruined them for me. This made me think about how Jesus called us to be salt in the world.
Salt is a seasoning. If sprinkled on our favorite dish, it can bring out the flavor of food. In fact, some foods, like eggs, are tasteless without salt. However, too much and we spoil the dish.
Can we do the same thing with our witness? Can we spoil our desire to share Jesus when we are overbearing and a know-it-all? Did I overdo it the time I was at my sister’s and a man came on the TV spouting new age junk, and I stated in no uncertain terms, “What a lot of bunk”?  Or how about the day I argued with my other sister about baby baptism vs. adult baptism and we ended up hurting one another’s feelings? What kind of “salt” was I that day? These are just two examples of times I should have used less salt–and more love and tastefulness.
What about in your writing? Are you over salting your novel or your nonfiction book? Signs you might have overused the saltshaker are excessive use of the word you, telling the reader how they must live, Christianese, phrases and words that have lost their meaning, and preaching, long stretches when you tell the reader about what the Bible says instead of showing them through interesting anecdotes and stories.

13 thoughts on “Too Much Christian Talk?

  1. Judy Bodmer

    In Pennsylvania Patchwork and Leaving Lancaster, your novels, you did a great job of showing the faith of your characters. I never felt that moment when your story paused for the “preaching” scene.

  2. Terri Main

    This is a major issue I have with most Christian Fiction. The story is subservient to the message. Someone said, “It you want to send a message call Western Union, don’t write a book.”

    In my first novel, I made a conscious effort to go through and remove overly intrusive, preachy, comments by my Christian characters and it was published by a secular publisher.

    Salt in the shaker is no good. But if you dump the whole shaker out on your plate that’s not much good either.

  3. Jeanetta Chrystie

    Love this!
    We are as salt of Christ to others; but too little is ineffective, too much offends the taste. Some dishes require more salt, others less. The key is finding the right balance for each recipe – and each opportunity to share our Christian witness.
    Writing crossover materials requires a lighter touch of salt.
    Writing overtly Christian fiction provides the opportunity to be bold, yet remembering new Christians won’t understand “Christian-ese” phrases.
    Good examples include Neta Jackson’s “Yada Yada Prayer Group” novels. They are overtly Christian, yet she created characters who need explanations and make other characters (and readers) aware of our too-easily-tossed-about church-y lingo.
    Read good examples and tell other writers – perhaps in GoodReads or Pinterest.
    Thanks for the topic, Judy. Happy Writing!

    1. Judy Bodmer

      Of course, you’re exactly right. I’ll have to check out the Yada Yada Prayer Group novels. I have a question. As a mature Christian, when you come to the “time of teaching” do you skip over it? Or do you read the scripture, pay attention to every word the “teacher” is imparting to the novice?


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