Saturday, January 10, 2009

Eight Christian Inspirational Romances I’d Like to Read…

If Only Someone Would Write Them.

Not long ago there was a question on a blog about how Christian Inspirational Romances could become more creative.

Like a good philosopher, I approached this question by asking another question. “What Inspirational stories would I love to read -- if only someone would write them?”

It didn’t take very long using this approach to come up with eight stories I’d like to read. These are given below.

I make no claim to these story ideas and any author who wants to should feel free to use any part of these examples. I’d be delighted to have another good inspirational to read.

Example 1:

The Reverend Boy

When Barry-Joe was five years old he was America’s “boy-wonder” preacher. He raised a fortune at revivals and was even featured on the cover of Time magazine. His preacher father, who ran the traveling ministry, cheats on his mother and steals the church money. The ministry dies in disgrace. Barry-Joe is so ashamed that he hides his identity and changes his name. He still believes in God but is afraid that God is not very happy with him.

Twenty-five years later he meets the Mary Woods who is a new minister in a church which has just had a doctrinal dispute and is falling apart. He could easily help her build her church with his preaching and money raising skills but he does not want his past revealed.

Here there is conflict where everyone believes in God – it is the hero’s secret past that is keeping hero and heroine apart.

Example 2:

The Bequest

Two churches are fighting in court for a $1 million bequest. The woman who died, once attended both churches and the churches have very similar names. Both churches have worthy projects to which the money will be put to use.

Hero and heroine are on different sides of the issues. The bequest dispute mirrors dilemmas the hero and heroine are facing in their personal lives.

Solving the bequest problem will also go a long way to providing a key to solving their personal problems. This story should display a good knowledge of probate law and the court system. Here you have conflict while everyone still believes in God and wants to do the right thing. The dispute is about which right thing should be done. It is also about human pride and failings.

Example 3:

The “Preacher

Henry Hanson is a driven businessman who considers himself a far better preacher than any he has ever heard in church on Sunday. At 35 Henry sells his business, moves to a large country retirement community, and builds a beautiful church and makes himself the minister.

He gives great sermons but few people come to his services. The heroine comes because the church in near her apartment. She is a widow with two small children. She is not that welcome in the senior retirement community and is trying to get her kicked out.

She shows the “businessman-preacher” the difference between “preaching” and “ministering” by centering on the needs of his flock.

The conflict here is the hero’s confusion over “preaching the word of God” and “living the word of God”. The heroine helps him see the light by taking him to other church services and showing how seemingly poor preaching preachers were actually great ministers caring for the needs of their flock. I just love this heroine.

Example 4:

The Inheritance

Ted Martin inherits a 160 acre farm which just happens to have a 100-year old church on it that has long been abandoned. He decides to fix it up and use it as an antique shop. He is a fine furniture craftsman. As he begins work on the restoration people drop by and ask if they can help him with the repairs. They also tell him stories about the history of the church.

As the restoration progresses people ask if they could come pray in the church. Later an old couple asks if they could repeat their marriage vows in the church where they were married fifty years earlier.

The heroine is a historian who has a high interest in finding the hidden church cemetery. She thinks a famous person is buried there.

Conflict: here both the hero and heroine come to God as non-believers because of what they see happening in the restoration of the old church. As the building is restored, the lives of all who come into contract with the church are also restored. This story will have a very strong nostalgia element and a series of small miracles.

Example 5:

Heavenly Music

Marc Denison is a troubled veteran who hears music in his dreams. He seeks help and his therapist is so intrigued by the vividness of the dreams that he wants to hear the music himself. The therapist sends Marc to the Anne Wentworth who is a song writer, composer, and classical musician.

He hums the melody while she writes it down and plays it back later on the piano. The music sounds very spiritual so Anne sets it to Bible verses. She plays it in her church and it becomes tremendously popular.

The conflict here is how the hero and heroine come to an understanding of the meaning of this 'heavenly' music and how it helps heal the wounds in their lives. The hero is not a musician but he did heard the music in his dreams. There is something real here. Faith made manifest.

Example 6:

The Ancient Gift

Hiram McKay is a minister who receives a gift of ancient documents from a mysterious stranger who soon departs. Hiram calls in Carlotta Sardis who is an expert in ancient Biblical languages. Hiram’s church is in dire need of money and he hopes these documents can be sold for enough to save the church.

What Carlotta reads seems to be a “lost” gospel of Thomas, Jesus’ twin brother, and many of the miracles in the Bible are claimed by Thomas. Hiram and Carlotta argue over what to do about the documents. “It’s the devil’s work” says Hiram. “The paper and ink are authentic to the era,” Carlotta answers.

The conflict here seems to be what should you tell believers and what should you withhold for their own good. The underlying conflict is between belief and science. While hero and heroine have a very strong attraction towards each other, this conflict is keeping them apart.

The resolution: a Medieval expert recognizes the documents as a 10th century forgery copied on genuine first century scrolls. The forgery is still worth over a million dollars and the church is saved. “God really does work in mysterious ways,” the scientist heroine says.

Example 7:

Holy Zoning

A church and a neighborhood association are in a bitter dispute about a zoning change. Both sides have worthy goals and noble intentions. Hero and heroine are on different sides of the issue. Hero is the preacher; heroine is the social worker. Both think they have God on their side.

The zoning conflict mirrors spiritual conflicts in both the hero and heroine’s lives. In the dialogue it soon becomes hard to tell when the hero and heroine are arguing about the zoning conflict and when they are arguing about their personal lives.

The solution, a zoning board approved land swap; this comes as a surprise to the reader. This solution answers both the pressing problems of the church and the community and was the result of ‘thinking outside the box’ by putting the problem first and not just seeking a stated objective.

This ‘thinking outside the box’ approach also solves the personal conflicts between the hero and heroine. There should be a symmetry between the two problems. This story would really take great writing skill.

Example 8:

The Miracle at Saint Andrew's

Allen Sparks is a minister of a dying church in a dying coal town in West Virginia. Mary Beth Higgins is a fierce non-believing reporter for the religion section of a big city newspaper. She loves to debunk religious claims.

A statue in the church begins to sheds tears during Sunday services and the local paper runs the story. More people come to the church, see the ‘tears' and believe. The dying town needs hope more than anything else.

Allen maintains that this is not a miracle; that there has to be a natural explaination. A science teacher from the local high school cannot find any source for the tears. More papers pick up the story and more people come to the church services.

Visitors come from all over the state. The more Allen claims it is not a miracle, the more people belief that it is. After all, if the preacher is denying the miracle, then it has to be true because it is not being done for the publicity or the money possibilities.

Finally, big-city Mary Beth comes to debunk the miracle. Allen Sparks gives her full access and even tries his best to help her debunk the story.

In the end it is shown that there is a natural explanation for the tears but by then the town has been transformed into a folk art and local cultural center. The church as a thriving new membership.

There actually was a miracle within the hearts of the people if not in the marble of a statue. The town and church and the people’s faith have all came back to life because, for a short time, they all believed. They liked the community their belief created and they act to keep it going after the truth comes out.

These are eight story ideas. I hope someone can make use of some of this material. Good luck.


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