Dave Meigs

David Meigs is a novelist with a background in youth outreach, specializing in ministry to at-risk youth and their families. Though his writing is enjoyed by all ages, his novels provide a unique, life-changing quality, critical for the youth of today. David and his family lives in Seabeck, Washington.

Life-Transforming Fiction

The Edgy Inspirational Novel

The age-old controversy.

It was the summer of 1976, and I will never forget a conversation I had with the then not-yet-published Frank Peretti. We were enjoying a quick bite to eat in the relatively quiet oasis of the lunchroom, tucked away from the booming thunder of the ski factory where we both worked for the summer. On more than one lunch break, I listened as Frank shared his heart about the need for the church to embrace the arts in ways relevant to the culture, and the controversial minefields that first needed crossing.

Many Christians seemed to have a mind-set that fiction was somehow less important—as if their time was better spent reading only the Bible, Bible study helps, devotionals, or true-life testimonials of people who have accomplished something important for God. Back then, a visit to the fiction shelves of any Christian bookstore would prove to be more than a little disappointing. You might find a dozen or so books by two or three authors. The bookstore in my own hometown had them hidden on the bottom shelf in an out of the way part of the store.

The same was true in all areas of the arts. For instance, if it was not worship music, it had little value. Even worse, if it had a heavy backbeat, guitars wailing, or screaming vocals, it was often considered demonic in nature. I remember one sermon given by a guest speaker at my church that condemned all Christian rock because the booming drum rhythm was influenced by African tribal rituals; therefore, it was implied it was somehow demonic. I remember how my gut twisted inside me at the very notion. Nevertheless, this kind of less-than-rational thinking was prevalent throughout much of the church back then.

As you can imagine, I was excited to see the success of Frank’s breakout novel, This Present Darkness, nearly a decade later. Not only did Christian fiction prove to be financially viable, but many of the readers were encouraged in their faith, and for some, it transformed their lives. A great deal has changed in the twenty-plus years since the marketplace has proved viable for inspirational fiction. However, that change has not come easily; nor will the changing stop any time soon.

It was a God thing.

I believe that these changes of attitude within the church toward the arts are God inspired. Whenever I get together with other inspirational novelists, I am encouraged by hearing the personal stories of how God inspires their creativity as they write. The same is true across the whole spectrum of the arts. Writers, musicians, and even movie producers are increasingly embracing their gifts as a calling. It is exciting to watch as novels, music, and movies with a Christian worldview are garnering more and more

of the spotlight and winning awards. Lives are truly being impacted through the arts, which is further evidence of the hand of God.

We live in a desensitized world.

In the summer of 1981, my wife and I joined another couple to see Scanners at the local theater. At one point in the movie, the bad guy uses his mind to literally explode the head of another man as a scientific demonstration. I have to admit, the scene was almost too grisly for both the other man and me to watch. My wife and the other young woman had the good sense to cover their faces and missed the worst of it. None of us had ever witnessed such a shocking scene. It left me feeling sickened for several days.

In today’s desensitized world, that overly-gruesome movie we watched long ago now seems tame by comparison. Today’s novels, television, movies, and even music seem to be locked in an ever-quickening race to out-sensationalize one another. Like it or not, this is the state of the world we live in, and we must craft our novels to reach them.

So what is needed?

Okay, I may be indulging myself in a bit of a personal rant here, but I believe our novels need even more grit—more edge. While I applaud the growing acceptance of edgy, inspirational novels in the Christian marketplace, I believe we still have a way to go. Don’t get me wrong; I am not by any means advocating profanity or gratuitous violence or sexual content in our books; nor am I suggesting we compete with the secular artists to out sensationalize one another.

If we hope to reach into the homes of the unchurched, we must create more of the kinds of stories they crave and, more important, that they can relate to. If they want fantastical kingdoms overrun with dragons, or even teenage vampire drama queens, then what should stop us from doing so? After all, the love of God cannot be confined to any kind of box.

My final and most important point is that what the world needs is Jesus—the true Jesus. God is in the business of changing lives. It is His amazing grace and love that breaks down the strongholds in people’s lives. The same needs to be true within our books. Whether our stories take place on some distant planet or in the hopelessly dark underbelly of an organized crime syndicate, let us find new and creative ways to show the irresistible love of God to our readers.