I’m in the process of worldbuilding for my next contemporary Christian romance series. As I worked on fleshing out the small Norwegian town where my characters live, work, and fall in love, I began thinking about their church. It will probably be an important part of the story since it has a big role in their lives.
My mind wandered to other fictional churches in Christian romance and how they’ve fitted into the stories. Churches pop up in most of my books. In my first novel, the characters visit a village church in Africa.
The church in my second book has a more important role in the story, since it’s my characters’ home church. They attend worship services and other church activities and get one-on-one counseling from their pastor.
But in my third book, there’s no church at all, as far as I can remember. I assume the characters attend regular corporate worship but the way the story played out, it never happens on the page. There’s plenty of church attendance in my fourth book, but that’s to be expected since the male lead is a youth pastor.
I remember being taught that church is not a building but the people. It’s a community of Christians fellowshiping together and meeting the Lord in worship. I was brought up “in church” and growing up, can only remember missing service twice. Once I told a fib about having a stomachache, and the other time we stayed home because of a big winter storm.
Having attended church as long as I can remember, including being actively involved in the worship ministry, I’ve seen a lot of things. Some good, others not so good. Churches are full of fallible humans, after all. But so far, none of the imperfect side of church life has yet made its way into my stories.
I’ve deliberately not mentioned any specific denominations in my books. They’re all Bible-believing churches whose statement of faith is the same as my own, but I don’t go into detail about potentially divisive doctrinal issues.
Do churches play a central role in any of your favorite Christian romance novels? And if you’re a writer, do churches feature in your stories? Do you model them on churches you know?