Announcing the Christian Storytellers Manifesto

October 9, 2018

Christian storytelling is facing a crisis.


Though good intentions abound, many Christian stories in the 21st century are cheesy, unrealistic, and artistically bland. Publishers struggle to find a market for Christian stories. And readers are leaving the genre.


This wasn’t always the case. Some of the greatest classics were written by Christians, and a resurgence of exceptional Christian storytelling may be just around the corner. We believe that modern Christian storytellers are able to pursue this noble calling.


Four months ago, at our summer 2018 staff retreat, the Story Embers staff sat down to compose a comprehensive definition of masterful Christian storytelling. Originally this was meant to be just a staff exercise. But as we were drafting the series of resolutions, we realized that publishing it could help our subscribers at Story Embers. We continued to refine the statement after the retreat. And we even reached out to various Christian authors to get their input. Their responses were overwhelmingly positive, and they offered suggestions that helped us solidify the document.


Today we’re releasing the Christian Storytellers Manifesto to the public.


This manifesto urges Christian storytellers to embrace the key philosophies, principles, and practices seen in the best Christian stories. It declares our resolve to aim for excellence instead of being content with subpar literature. It sounds an alarm in the writing community that we need a higher standard by which to discuss and judge our proficiency as storytellers. Finally, it unites like-minded storytellers who will support each other and seek to raise Christian storytelling to new levels.


Here’s how you can join the movement:


1. Read the Christian Storytellers Manifesto.
2. Add your signature.
3. Share the Manifesto with your writing friends.


Our goal is to make the Manifesto central to our work at Story Embers so we can regularly help you achieve the resolutions it sets forth.


Join the movement by signing the Christian Storytellers Manifesto today.


  1. Jenna Terese

    This is totally awesome guys! 😀 I am totally on board!

    • Josiah DeGraaf

      Glad to hear it, Jen! 😀

  2. Samantha

    Loved this!!! It gives a lot of purpose to writing.- We will not settle for sublime in our writing or honoring God.-I wanna post this everywhere. It really captures my goals as a Christian writer. Thanks for the inspiration.

    • Josiah DeGraaf

      Glad to hear this inspired you, Samantha!

  3. Tabitha

    “We resolve to craft characters who remain true to how flawed human beings live and act, affirming that Christian storytellers have the freedom to portray the full human experience in all its beauty and depravity, not to glorify or endorse sin but to accurately reveal the brokenness of the world.”

    Any thoughts on including spying/lying in a novel? I like spy novels and the intrigue of seeing if a character can successfully pretend to be someone else –yet how do I not “glorify or endorse” lying at the same time?

    Shadows of Stonewycke by Michael Phillips and To Know Her By Name by Lori Wick (older romance novels) both have the main character spying during the jist of the book and then giving it up at the end due to God’s work on their hearts. Shadows of Stonewycke, I think, does a better job of making this part of the theme, but it can seem cheesy to promote spying and then have the character’s life suddenly become boring and uninteresting when he/she becomes a Christian.

    • Josiah DeGraaf

      To a large extent, I feel like this begs the question on if lying can be justified. I’m hard-pressed to say that’s the case, but cases like Rahab and the Hebrew midwives are a challenge to think through. Even if lying isn’t ever justified, though, God does commission spies in the Old Testament so there has to be some way to do the job of a spy morally.

      A lot depends on what side you take on that debate. Another thing to ponder, though, is whether or not this kind of a book would actually encourage readers to lie more. I tend to think that most people understand that there’s a difference between lying in normal life and lying as a spy. Perhaps both are wrong–but one is a lot harder of a situation to parse through than the former.

      If your conviction is that lying is wrong, even when it’s in order to save lives, perhaps an alternative to making the character quit espionage is for them to continue in the role and try to do their job /without/ directly lying. (/If/ lying in this case is wrong, that means there must have been a way for the Israelite spies to do this, after all, since God commissioned them.) That to me sounds like a fascinating story that would become /more/ tense and interesting due to this change, not less.

      I don’t want to come down hard one way or another on this issue since I think the issue of lying to save lives is a complex and difficult matter worthy of exploring through a story’s theme. But those are some of the possibilities and trails of thought I go down when I think on that question!

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