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Ever heard of Alan Cliburn? Carole Gift Page? Betty Steele Everett? They taught me most of the theology I hold today.
Are they Sunday school teachers? Pastors? Seminary professors? Nope, they’re teen fiction writers.
As a teenager, every week after Sunday school I’d grab my copy of our church’s take-home paper, Teens Today. I’d pore over the eight pages, reading and re-reading the stories about teens who faced challenges and overcame them using scriptural principles.
From these writers, I learned about reading my Bible, praying, taking a stand in faith, tithing, finding God’s will, and more. By the time I graduated from high school, I had a six-year, nearly perfect collection of dog-eared Teens Today. And as I went to Bible school, I discovered I already had a good working knowledge of theology, thanks to this weekly paper.
Years later, I became assistant editor for Teens Today. As I screened manuscripts, I was amazed to see some of the same names cross my desk. They were joined by others: Nancy Rue, Teresa Cleary, Colleen Reece, and more. People who knew how to use fiction to teach lessons. Working with Teens Today, I also caught the vision of writing teen fiction.
Teen fiction, along with childrens fiction, is a genre many writers hesitate to admit they write. After all, important people don’t read teen fiction. I’ve heard writers say, “Oh, I just write fiction,” as if it’s not a life-changing genre.
Fiction can be as effective as the most in-depth theology book; it can be as inspirational as the best devotional; it can be as spiritually illuminating as a Bible study; it can be as motivating as any successful living book; it can offer help as well as any how-to.
Often fiction may be more powerful because the genre is less threatening.
Do you have a message to share? Do you want someone to learn the power of serving God? Consider presenting your message through fiction. If you’re already a fiction writer, remind yourself of the importance of your work.
Oh, and thanks Alan, Carole, Betty, and all you other Teens Today writers. You changed my life.
Jeanette Gardner Littleton, a CWG mentor, and has written more than 5,000 pieces in the past three decades.
Photo credit: Witthaya Phonsawat