Wednesday, January 27, 2010

What is a Media Missionary?

If you ask that question to 50 Christian professionals working in the mainstream entertainment industry in Hollywood or elsewhere, you would probably get 50 different answers. The definition of a media missionary is a work-in-progress. It’s an ongoing discussion we want to have with you here at

So let’s get started with a few concepts that make sense. A media missionary is someone that has a calling to the mainstream media or entertainment fields. So what is a calling? In Romans 12:4-5 we read that there are many parts in the body of Christ. And each of us has a different part to play. Finding that individual part is our calling. In I Thessalonians 5:16-18, we learn that God’s will for each believer is to pray, evangelize and disciple. They are the foundational pillars for your calling.

A calling is God’s plan for your life, a clear direction and purpose. But how do we know if we have been called to go to Hollywood or elsewhere to work as a media missionary? To discover that will require time, prayer, reflection and discernment. But God usually equips us with the personality, talents, gifts and passion needed to fulfill our calling along with the most important element, the power of the Holy Spirit.

First, a media missionary needs to have the right motivation, a willingness to serve God as well as others. If you are motivated by fame and fortune, you are probably not a media missionary. Do you have a passion to work in media? Working in the media or film industries requires a lot of dedication and hard work. If you see this as just a job, you’re probably not a media missionary. Do you see the media as an opportunity for good? Do you see Hollywood as a valid mission field with its own unique customs, language, and culture?

Do you love people who are different than you because in the entertainment and media industry you will find plenty of people that are quite frankly very unpleasant. Have you received some training and equipping? The last thing you want to do is get on a bus and just show up in Hollywood. Have you studied world views, media literacy, or been mentored by someone who is a working Christian professional in the industry?

It’s also important to consider what may or may not be a media missionary. For example, is a Christian who works for a Christian media organization or church or a Christian who makes Christian films a media missionary?

A media missionary without question is someone who is lead by the Holy Spirit. I don’t see any way you can succeed in this industry without God’s direction and your willingness to allow the Holy Spirit to control your life.

One of the best definitions that I have come across for a media missionary is someone who makes films or media that speak of Jesus the least but has him most in mind. It’s a difficult concept but one that is very profound. In order to embrace the concept, one has to see Hollywood as a partner. If we think we can have an impact on our culture through media and film, we will have to work with Hollywood. When I speak of Hollywood I am not talking just about the physical place. Hollywood represents the entire scope of the entertainment industry which today is everywhere.

A media missionary is someone who wishes to redeem and reform Hollywood. That doesn’t mean throwing tracs around on the set or using spiritual phrases in your language. Being a media missionary is not about infiltrating or subversion. So how do you redeem an industry that is resistant to the very concept? By asking questions and not giving easy answers. If we want to be effective, we need to tell stories that are honest, broken and above all true. We are not in the business of propaganda.

You have to love your audience more than what you are saying to them which includes respect. First and foremost they want to be entertained. It is possible to say something important and at the same time do it in an entertaining fashion. But that requires skill and discernment. It can be done through redemptive stories, cautionary tales, and socially conscious, positive value, universal theme and Biblical value films.

When a filmmaker or media maker can link some aspect of the culture back to the gospel message, it is a clear sign of a media missionary at work. When we talk about pain and suffering and wonder where God is or when we talk about real people going through difficult situations and struggles, we can see the media missionary at work.

Perhaps the greatest work of a media missionary is just to live out your life in front of your peers. If you are a committed Christian believer and you embrace a lifestyle that represents being Christlike, you will undoubtedly have great influence.

So we have started the discussion. Do you think you are being called to be a media missionary? What role will you play? Will you work in your home town or perhaps one day travel to Hollywood? Are you ready to start the journey?

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