|Posted by Donna Dawson on November 29, 2011 at 3:55 PM|
I am among the few who are very blessed with a church that understands the importance of a writing ministry. I have been the recipient of a congregationally supported book launch and CD launch. I have church leadership and members alike who constantly ask how my ministry is going and who offer to pray. It is because they know that what I am doing is not meant to be simply a career—or a way of offering my opinions to a broader audience. They have recognized that God has called me to write and to sing and they are doing all they can to encourage that ministry. I am grateful to God for this church family because they value what I do and wish to be part of it in the ways in which they can.
As I stated—I am one of the few. It is a sad commentary in a world where the written word has the power to change the human mind and heart—where so often the contents of any given book are embraced as truth without question. Even when it is a lie. My church family recognizes that God has called me to write about his truths—to wrap them in stories just like Jesus did—to offer to a hurting humanity comfort for their pain.
There are many like me. Christians called to write God’s message of hope for the hopeless. They are placed in the denominations across the globe and they write in spite of the many challenges they face. What challenges? you may ask. Aren’t you authors just rolling in the dough? Aren’t you celebrities? I hear these questions asked often and I laugh.
No. Authors are not celebrities—especially Christian authors. They are missionaries striving to reach lost souls. And money? Hah! Authors are perennially in debt in spite of the illusion that they are making a killing on the sales of their books. Approximately 90 percent of all books published in any given year sell less than 100 copies. Of the remaining ten percent, eight percent sell between 1,000 and 5,000 copies. Only a mere two percent can make a living as an author. Why is that? Well, there are many reasons.
A prophet is without honour in his own home town. Jesus said it when his community refused to believe he was the Messiah. Nothing has changed since then. The very people who should support Christian authors are often the ones who undermine their ministry of words. Neighbours and friends, business associates, fellow church congregants—even ministers and board members.
As I said, I have been blessed to have a church family, friends and neighbours and a community that all support my ministry. As I have polled the Christian writing community, however, I have discovered how pathetic the support is for most authors.
I recently had a conversation with a fellow contributor to a new Canadian anthology. I was told how disappointed this contributor was by the lack of support she received from her church and community when launching the book.
“My family has supported a local business for years and when the business owner came into the store where we launched the book, he expressed his congratulations and then went and bought a birdhouse. What would it have cost him to buy a book and give it away as a Christmas present? It’s only $20.00.”
I know exactly what she is saying. Too often I have had Christians come to my book table and say, “Oh! Lovely! A Christian author—and local at that! Keep up the good work. I’m going to wait until I can get it for free in the church library.” And then they walk away without even considering buying a book for themselves or for a friend who may not know Christ.
Then there is the occasional person who lifts my spirits immensely by buying a book and stating, “I understand what you are doing and I want to help. If I like it, I’ll certainly get another one to give to a friend.” They get the point. And may God pour a thousand blessings on them for the gift of encouragement they share with those of us called to write!
I’ve had others say that their church won’t even host a book launch. It’s selling. Plain and simple. Perhaps if the leadership viewed it as covering the costs of a missionary work so that the author can give books to non-believers, they might reconsider. I have done just that many times because of my church’s support—given novels to teens and adults alike that just couldn’t afford them but were curious about the message.
I’ve had my own personal experiences that weren’t exactly uplifting too. In the past I have been told that I couldn’t sell books in a church because it wasn’t really a ministry—that it was a business. Really? So telling stories about Jesus isn’t a ministry? And we shouldn’t be paid in the church for that? I guess that means that all ministers should relinquish their pay cheques if that is the case because that is exactly what they are doing. We just do it in writing.
Perhaps this post comes across as a rant. Perhaps some of you may consider it as self-serving. I can’t do anything about that other than to say that—yes—it is a bit of a rant—but not for me. It is a rant on behalf of the many authors who don’t have a wonderful church backing them in their ministry as I do. And yes—it is self-serving. I recognized that in order to continue my own ministry I need to sell books—but I also need prayer support and encouragement. I get all of that—but so many authors don’t. Most authors truly are prophets without honour.
Consider this: If the church doesn’t support the local Christian author, who will? The atheist? Or perhaps the New Age guru? If the local Christian author doesn’t get the support he or she needs they will cease to write. Then where will the resources be when you wish to reach your neighbour or friend for Christ?
This is a ministry and we are all part of it—authors and readers alike. Christian authors write what God leads them to write. Readers support the authors through prayer, encouragement and, yes, purchase—and then share, with those around them, those books they have purchased.
This Christmas, as you consider what to buy as a gift, think of the Christian author in your church or community. Pray for them. Encourage them to keep writing—even though the bills are piling up for them and the local book store won’t keep their book in stock. And buy a book from them for a gift for someone you know. Perhaps what they write really was meant for the loved one you have been praying for all those years.