Note to readers: For convenience I’ve defined Christian living books as books that deal with all aspects of Christian life. Devotionals are those that are used for quiet contemplation and self-examination, usually during prayer times and/or Bible study. Devotionals/Christian living will be used interchangeably in this article. Where necessary, distinctions will be made between the two.
The Christian living market is a big one. The sheer volume of devotionals and Christian living books available is enough to make one’s head spin.
Daily Verses for Life, Living Large God’s Way, Overcoming Life…the list is endless. I, for one, am incredibly amazed by the plethora of books on the Holy Spirit. You would think Christians would’ve got the message by now; the Holy Spirit is real, He is a person and without Him, we cannot live our earthly Christian life. But I digress.
Most Christian living books are written by people who want to impart a certain truth to the world. For example, there are a lot of books on the Holy Spirit because the writers believe that the books on the market do not deal with the specific things that they cover in their own books.
There are Christian books on relationships, pornography, debt, gifts of the Spirit, leadership… And all these books are liberally spiced with Scripture (for validation purposes).
A word of warning; if you haven’t got a clear revelation of what you want to write about, don’t write it.
And if you are not prepared to spend hours studying your Bible and knowing your subject, then Christian living books is certainly not your genre.
For devotional writers, the warning is the same. It is not enough to say, “I am going to write a devotional because I believe I can bless people.”
You should be asking the following questions:
“Have I really been called to do this?”
“Have I really asked God for guidance regarding the specific devotional He wants for such and such time?”
And perhaps, most important, “Am I willing to accept the responsibility for what I’m doing?”
If the answer is no, then devotionals/Christian living books is not for you.
It is not enough to say, “My devotionals will bless people.” You have to go a step further and say, “Lord, I know it is an awesome responsibility to write something that people will read and be ministered to. Show me how I can be a blessing.”
If you can honestly pray the above prayer with a sincere heart, go ahead. Write those devotionals and Christian living books. But remember; “To whom much is given, from him much will be required.”
What is the message of your Christian devotional?
Devotionals usually focus on a particular theme or topic. It could be ‘compassion’ this week or month and ‘forgiveness’ the next. The theme (or topic) will be accompanied by some Bible reading and in some cases, study.
By the end of that week or month, the reader ought to have gained an in depth knowledge of the topic studied and grown as a Christian in that particular area.
Christian living books are not much different. The writer⎯theologian, preacher or professional writer, it doesn’t matter⎯has something to impart about the Christian life which they believe will be of great blessing to the reader. It could be an experience they had, some Godly wisdom they want to impart or even Bible study. Either way, it doesn’t matter. The fact is; they would have had some experience in the matter and would like you to benefit from their experience. This is the ‘message’ of their books.
Know your ‘message’. Decide what you want to write and stick it to it. Don’t start writing a book on debt and finish with the gifts of the Spirit.
What is your intention?
Which brings me to my next point. If your intention is to preach at people and tell them how to live their lives, then don’t bother writing your book because no one will buy it.
If your intention is to point your readers towards Jesus as the only model we should and can emulate through the power of the Holy Spirit, then congratulations. You understand and appreciate the value of what you are writing.
Theology or Christian living?
Some might argue that theologians write for other theologians but I’m not entirely convinced. I think it is possible for theologians to write books for the public and still be understood. It’s all in the presentation. Whatever your forte, write clearly, simply and with an appreciation of your targeted audience.
What is the Holy Spirit’s role in your book or devotional?
And finally, who is doing the writing; you or the Holy Spirit?
“The Holy Spirit of course!” you answer. But bear with me. Don’t delude yourself by thinking you can avoid Bible study if you want to write Christian living books. You can’t. It is an integral part of the Christian writer’s life.
Find out what leading scholars are saying about the topic you want to write about, commit your book to the Holy Spirit and through intensive prayer and study, allow Him to guide you as you write. And do not forget that what you write has the potential to impact the church (as in the body of Christ) negatively or positively. It is an awesome responsibility. But then, you knew that, didn’t you?