The Bible tells us that “Jesus spoke all these things to the crowd in parables; he did not say anything to them without using a parable.” (Matthew 13:34) Why is storytelling is such a powerful way to communicate truth? Over the years, we’ve interviewed Christian authors about their fiction–and put the question to them. Here we have answers from a panel of popular Christian authors, including Francine Rivers, Ted Dekker, Jody Hedlund, Frank Peretti, Shelley Shepard Gray, Charles Martin, Max Lucado, Becky Wade, and more.

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FRANCINE RIVERS

“I know many people who won’t touch a Bible. You even mention reading one, and they raise their hands in protest. Those same people will read a novel. For some, it’s just a form of entertainment. They enjoy the characters and what happens to them and move on. But others feel a seed being planted and it begins to grow. Jesus used parables. Some never asked questions after He spoke. They just listened, were briefly entertained, possibly perplexed, and moved on. But the disciples and those willing to admit their hunger and thirst came to Him and asked: What do you mean by that? And He told them. Readers sometimes ask me questions about my stories. That gives me an opportunity to point to Jesus. It gives me a chance to tell them what I’ve learned. When you go into the Bible with an open heart and mind and ask God to speak to you, He does. He meets you right where you are.”

Francine Rivers’ Christian novels have been awarded or nominated for numerous honors, including the RITA Award, Christy Award, ECPA Gold Medallion, and Holt Medallion in Honor of Outstanding Literary Talent. In 1997, she was inducted into the Romance Writers of America’s Hall of Fame. Francine and husband Rick live in northern California and enjoy time with their three grown children and their grandchildren.

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CHARLES MARTIN

“I’m not sure I can answer this other than to say I think it’s wired into our DNA. I think the Lord made us to receive and understand the world through story. Several years ago, I latched onto the idea that His story, revealed through Scripture, is really just one big love story. And, it’s the best love story ever told. I realize this is not new, but it’s the story of a rescue mission in which all is helpless, lost, and things aren’t looking too good. Then, the hero appears, saves everyone, and dies in the process—only to be brought back to life by the Father who sent Him on the mission. Story, in my opinion, is the only method that comes close to communicating the three-dimensional reality of what was at stake, what it cost and how deep is that love of the Father and the Son.”

Charles Martin is the Christy Award-winning author of more than a dozen novels, including his 2017 Book of the Year winner Long Way Gone. His work is available in 17 languages. His new book is The Water Keeper (Thomas Nelson).

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JODY HEDLUND

“Stories have POWER. Sunday school teachers and youth leaders know the power of stories to capture attention and move students. Parents know the power of stories to teach character lessons (think the story of the Boy Crying Wolf or of the Tortoise and the Hare). Pastors know the power of stories (through illustrations) to help us remember truths better. Jesus knew the power of stories, which is why he used them so often during his ministry on earth to relay truths (in all four gospels Jesus tells over 45 stories also known as parables). Stories have the power to teach us lessons and to bring us hope. And Christian fiction in particular has the power to point people to the true Giver of Hope.”

Jody Hedlund is the bestselling author of over a dozen novels, including Luther and Katharina, winner of the 2016 Christian Book Award. She received a bachelor’s from Taylor University and a master’s from University of Wisconsin, both in social work. Currently she makes her home in Midland, Michigan, with her husband and five busy children.

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TED DEKKER

“We live in story, not in ideology. Everything we think is cloaked in story, including our interpretation of a stone, a tree, our neighbor, the Bible, and God. It’s said in psychology that the human brain can only think in story. All is metaphor. This is surely why Jesus used fiction as his primary form of communication. It could even be said that all nonfiction is just fiction because even it is just an interpretation of events, ideas and relationships. I think we’ll have a much better picture of what truth actually is after we die. Until then, we live in a version of truth called story. Or so they say.”

Ted Dekker is the award-winning and New York Times bestselling author of more than forty novels, with over 10 million copies sold worldwide. He was born in the jungles of Indonesia to missionary parents, and his upbringing as a stranger in a fascinating and sometimes frightening culture fueled his imagination. Dekker’s passion is simple–to explore truth through mind-bending stories that invite readers to see the world through a different lens. His fiction has been honored with numerous awards, including two Christy Awards, two Inspy Awards, an RT Reviewers’ Choice Award, and an ECPA Gold Medallion. In 2013, NPR readers nationwide put him in the Top 50 Thriller Authors of All Time. Dekker lives in Nashville, Tennessee, with his wife, Lee Ann.

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SHELLEY SHEPARD GRAY

“I’ve always loved writing fiction because I love writing stories about people that I’d like to know. I enjoy writing inspirational novels because I feel that adding a faith element makes each story richer and the characters more believable. It makes me happy when readers tell me that they were able to relate to my characters.”

Shelley Shepard Gray lives in southern Ohio and writes full-time. A busy wife and mother of two, she spends her days writing and keeping track of her two teens. Shelley enjoys writing about the Amish and visits Amish communities in Adams and Holmes counties several times a year. When not spending time with her family or writing, she serves on several committees in her church.

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JOEL C. ROSENBERG

“Fiction has a way of unlocking people’s imagination in a way nonfiction doesn’t. I have found the reaction to my fiction so interesting. The novels have gotten a discussion going, and I’m intrigued with that.”

Joel C. Rosenberg is a New York Times bestselling author of some 20 fiction and nonfiction titles with nearly 5 million copies in print. He has marked his place among today’s top fact-based fiction authors, and U.S. News and World Report hailed him as a “modern-day Nostradamus.” Joel regularly speaks with leaders around the world about geopolitical and religious freedom issues. He has met face-to-face with heads of state around the world, and his novels have been read by national and world leaders, generals, and intelligence officials.

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MELANIE DICKERSON

“Stories are easy to relate to and easy to remember. You can say, “Actions speak louder than words,” but when Jesus illustrates that with a story about two brothers, one who tells his father he will go into the field and work but then doesn’t, and the other brother who says he won’t go but then changes his mind and goes out to work after all, we can “see” the principle in a way we can relate to. It has more meaning and is easier to apply to own lives.”

Melanie Dickerson is the New York Times bestselling author who combines her love for all things Medieval with her love of romance and fairy tales. Her books have won the Christy Award, two Maggie Awards, The National Reader’s Choice Award, and the Carol Award in Young Adult fiction. Her latest novel is The Piper’s Pursuit (Thomas Nelson), a fresh re-imagining of the classic Pied Piper tale.

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FRANK PERETTI

“What’s art for? It’s to communicate ideas on an aesthetic level. The best way to understand the human experience is through a Judeo Christian worldview, because that’s where everything falls together and makes sense. I’m a storyteller. My role is to tell a story because a story can give a whole other dimension to a thought.”

Frank Peretti, whose books have sold more than 12 million copies, is the author of Monster as well as the international bestsellers The Oath and This Present Darkness. The Oath (1995) has sold more than a million copies and was awarded the 1996 ECPA Gold Medallion Award for best fiction. Peretti lives with his wife Barbara in the Pacific Northwest.

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SARA ELLA

“Reading is one way many people cope with real-life situations, and storytelling is very much the same for a writer. Unblemished isn’t just some random story I came up with for the fun of it, or even because I thought it would sell. Grief, heartbreak, first love, overcoming fear—these are truths and experiences I have faced. Storytelling is a way of working out my own feelings, while also relating to others on a deeper level. It’s a way to say, “Hey, I get it. I’ve been there. I understand.” I hope the truths I have discovered in my own life and put on the page will come through and touch the lives of my readers. Their letters and notes encourage me every day to keep writing stories.”

Not so long ago, SARA ELLA dreamed she would marry a prince (just call her Mrs. Charming) and live in a castle (aka The Plaza Hotel). Though her fairy tale didn’t quite turn out as planned, she did work for Disney—that was an enchanted moment of its own. Now she spends her days throwing living room dance parties for her two princesses and conquering realms of her own imaginings. She believes “Happily Ever After is Never Far Away” for those who put their faith in the King of kings.

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BILL MYERS

“Jesus understood the power of story. In fact, He spent more time telling parables than giving facts and figures. Story puts flesh and blood upon those facts so we can more easily relate and apply their truths to our day to day living.”

Bill Myers is the author of several best-selling series for readers young and old alike — including Forbidden Doors, The Incredible Worlds of Wally McDoogle, McGee and Me! He is a writer and director; his work has won over 40 national and international awards and his books and videos have sold nearly 5 million copies. His novel The Wager was made into a film starring Randy Travis.

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THOMAS LOCKE

“There is a visceral edge to the growth in the dystopian audience. These stories have been around for ages. Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse-Five and Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 were two that impacted me deeply as a kid. The newer novels’ bleak hopelessness and their dire predictions nowadays represent a big change in how young people view their future. I want to address this where they live, in their chosen genre, and add a clear message that even here there is hope, if the individual accepts the challenge to grow. Even here.”

Under two different pen names, Davis Bunn A.K.A. Thomas Locke is an award-winning, best-selling author who is deft at multiple genres, including romance, historicals, suspense, and science fiction. He serves as writer-in-residence at Regent’s Park College, the University of Oxford, in the United Kingdom. His most recent novel is Tranquility Falls (Kensington Books), the latest romance in his Miramar Bay series.

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BECKY WADE

“Writing books has grown my faith! It’s shown me what it feels like to put action behind Hebrews 11:1 which reads, ‘…faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.’ Each time I sign a contract for books not yet written, each day when I show up at my computer uncertain of what to write next, I have to step forward in faith, trusting that the Lord will show up and write another story through me. I have to find assurance in something that’s hoped for… but not yet seen — the finished book. I have to believe that He’ll equip me to do what He’s called me to do, which is scary sometimes. Because I know I cannot do it without Him.” (SOURCE: How Christian Fiction Mirrors the Hope God Gives Us)

Becky Wade’s humorous, heart-pounding contemporary romance novels have won multiple Christy Awards, the Carol Award, the INSPY Award, and the Inspirational Reader’s Choice Award for Romance. Becky lives in Dallas, Texas with her family. Her latest book is Stay With Me (Bethany House), the first book in her Misty River Romance series.

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CHUCK BLACK

“I reasoned that if Christian fiction had no place in God’s heart, then it shouldn’t have a place in mine. I decided I would walk away from my fiction writing if that’s where God was leading. For answers, I turned to the only book that whispered God’s absolute truth in my heart, the Bible. The Lord led me to Samuel where the prophet Nathan employed a fictional story of a rich man with many flocks and a poor man with one lamb. At the conclusion of the story, David was convicted, broken, and repentant before God for his grievous sin. Nathan’s clever use of fiction subtly prepared David’s heart for the crushing blow of truth. An effective fictional story tends to impact most people that way. It is as though the picture of truth has quietly occupied the room of their heart and suddenly the curtains are thrown back to allow the brilliance of enlightenment to be revealed in an instant. Can a fictional story change lives? I discovered that the answer is a resounding yes, for it brought a powerful king to his knees in submission to truth!” (SOURCE: The Power of Christian Fiction)

Chuck Black, a former F-16 fi ghter pilot and tactical communications engineer, is the best-selling, award-winning author of the Kingdom series and the Knights of Arrethtrae series. He has received praise from parents across the country for his unique approach to telling biblical truths. His passion in life is to serve the Lord Jesus Christ and to love his wife, Andrea, and their six children. He lives with his family in North Dakota.

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DANI PETTREY

“No matter the genre, within Christian Fiction hope exists. That’s what makes the Christian life and Christian Fiction, in particular, so inspiring. As writers of Christian Fiction and readers as well, we get to see the hope of the Gospel, the hope of our redemption and the love of Christ mirrored in the pages of each book.” (SOURCE: How Christian Fiction Mirrors the Hope God Gives Us)

Praised by New York Times best-selling author Dee Henderson as “a name to look for in romantic suspense,” Dani Pettrey combines the page-turning adrenaline of a thriller with the chemistry and happy-ever-after of a romance. Dani’s new book is The Crushing Depths (Bethany House), the second title in her Coastal Guardians series.

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ROBIN LEE HATCHER

“In the fall of 1991, I read REDEEMING LOVE by Francine Rivers, and suddenly I saw the real power fiction could have. It went beyond merely entertaining readers (although entertainment is something I always seek to provide). It was the power of stories to change lives for the better and for eternity.” (SOURCE: Why Christian Fiction?)

Robin Lee Hatcher is the author of 80 novels and novellas with over five million copies of her books in print. She is known for her heartwarming and emotionally charged stories of faith, courage, and love. Her numerous awards include the RITA® Award, the Carol Award, the Christy Award, the HOLT Medallion, the National Reader’s Choice Award, and the Faith, Hope & Love Reader’s Choice Award. Robin is also the recipient of prestigious Lifetime Achievement Awards from both American Christian Fiction Writers and Romance Writers of America®. When not writing, she enjoys being with her family, spending time in the beautiful Idaho outdoors, Bible art journaling, reading books that make her cry, watching romantic movies, and decorative planning. Robin makes her home on the outskirts of Boise, sharing it with a demanding Papillon dog and a persnickety tuxedo cat.

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MADELEINE L’ENGLE

“Our truest response to the irrationality of the world is to paint or sing or write,” she said, “For only in such response do we find truth.” Further, she said, “Stories make us more alive, more human, more courageous, more loving.” (SOURCE: C. S. Lewis, Madeleine L’Engle, and the Power of Storytelling)

Madeleine L’Engle (1918-2007) was an American writer best known for her young adult fiction, particularly the Newbery Medal-winning A Wrinkle in Time and its sequels A Wind in the Door, A Swiftly Tilting Planet, and Many Waters. Her works reflect her strong interest in modern science: tesseracts, for example, are featured prominently in A Wrinkle in Time, mitochondrial DNA in A Wind in the Door, organ regeneration in The Arm of the Starfish, and so forth.

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C.S. LEWIS

“That is one of the functions of art: to present what the narrow and desperately practical perspectives of real life exclude.” (SOURCE: C. S. Lewis, Madeleine L’Engle, and the Power of Storytelling)

Clive Staples Lewis (1898–1963) was one of the intellectual giants of the 20th century and arguably the most influential Christian writer of his day. His major contributions in literary criticism, children’s literature, fantasy literature, and popular theology brought him international renown and acclaim.

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MAX LUCADO

“Parables help us understand simple and complex truths.” (SOURCE: Priceless Parables)

Max Lucado is an American author and pastor at Oak Hills Church in San Antonio, Texas. Lucado has written more than 50 books with 80 million copies in print, including three recipients of the Charles “Kip” Jordon Gold Medallion Christian Book of the Year, and has appeared regularly on several bestseller lists.

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BRIAN D. MCLAREN

“Jesus was short on sermons, long on conversations; short on answers, long on questions; short on abstraction and propositions, long on stories and parables; short on telling you what to think, long on challenging you to think for yourself.” (SOURCE: A-Z Quotes)

Brian D. McClaren’s Author Page


MATTHEW HENRY

“None so blind as those who will not see.” (SOURCE: A-Z Quotes)


DR. ALBERT MOHLER

“When you point to the parables, you can preach biblical truth in ways that will surprise people. A pastor is a servant of the Word, and his responsibility is to teach and preach the Bible. As with all Scripture, the parables hold incredible power for preaching in the 21st century. However, I see the parables as unique literary units for encouraging pastors about their preaching.” (SOURCE: The Power of a Parable)


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About The Author

Francine Rivers' Christian novels have been awarded or nominated for numerous honors, including the RITA Award, Christy Award, ECPA Gold Medallion, and Holt Medallion in Honor of Outstanding Literary Talent. In 1997, she was inducted into the Romance Writers of America's Hall of Fame. Francine and husband Rick live in northern California and enjoy time with their three grown children and their grandchildren.