Tuesday, March 23, 2010
Defining the Media Missionary
The media missionary is not concerned with genre, ratings, marketability, or the level of Christian content contained with any media or film project. Their work becomes an act of worship with no division between the sacred or secular. The media missionary approaches each project with no defined agenda other than to recognize God at work and their willingness to join him in that work.
A media missionary has a distinct calling from God to serve him in the area of media and entertainment. For the most part, it is a calling to reach a broader or comprehensive audience. Their purpose is to reflect God’s glory and truth in the media he or she creates. In order for a media missionary to complete or fulfill their calling, they must be willing to submit and be under the control of the Holy Spirit.
A Love for the Industry
Without a respect and love for the people that work in the entertainment industry, it is impossible to fulfill your calling as a media missionary. It is expected that a media missionary will live his or her life in such a way that will reflect God’s love and grace for those in the industry.
A Student of the Filmmaking Process
We have a responsibility to be proficient in all aspects of filmmaking and media making. Our work should excel in the areas of production values and artistic expression. There is no excuse for not being a student of the filmmaking process. A media missionary must study and learn the art of filmmaking and media making.
Redeem and Reform
A media missionary desires to redeem and reform the industry from within. In other words, we must go, work and function in the mainstream media and entertainment industry. It requires us to live out our faith on a daily basis. The only way that we can redeem or reform the industry must be through the power of God’s presence in our lives. If we approach our work in this manner, it becomes more than just a vocation or job, it becomes an act of worship to God.
Sees Hollywood as a Partner
A media missionary understands that Hollywood is not the enemy. We do not go to this industry to subvert it. Our agenda is not a Trojan Horse approach. We seek a partnership with Hollywood. God can help us to make films and media that speak of Jesus the least but that has him most in mind. This concept is the heart of a media missionary and the relationship that we seek with the media and entertainment industry. Adopting this approach will put us in a position to make media that is more Christian in nature than Christian films or media have been in content. We should never use media as a form of propaganda.
The Parables of Jesus
Media missionaries must be culturally relevant and learn to communicate to a broad audience. Our inspiration comes from the parables of Jesus. He taught us how to tell stories that were engaging, thought-provoking, honest and truthful. He used symbolism and metaphors to communicate complex truths in order to make them understandable. His stories always had a point and were never boring. As with Jesus’ stories, our stories need to be Biblically based containing truth that lead people to the Father.
Find Point of Entry
Filmmaking is not about giving all of the answers but offers a venue in which we can ask questions. The media missionary’s role is to find a point of entry where we can link some aspect of our culture back to the Gospel message. We have the opportunity to ask questions — Where is God when I hurt? Does he care about me? Is he still present? Why is nothing in my life working? These are often questions our film characters are asking if not externally as least internally. Often the audience will identify with these characters because they want the same answers to these questions.
We often spend too much time giving contrived answers and overlook what our audiences’ real questions are. What are their situations? Crisis pregnancy? Divorce? Sickness? Job loss? What circumstances and struggles are they facing? Poverty? Single parenthood? Addiction? Low self esteem? Situations and struggles provide the media missionary a point of entry to speak to a broader, more comprehensive audience.
Do you love your audience more than what you are saying to them? The media missionary must build trust with his or her audience. We build trust when we respect our audience. If they are willing to give us two hours of their time, it is our duty to create a product that is entertaining. The media missionary must put art first, not the message. We rely on God to reveal his truth through the art. We don’t have the power to change anybody’s mind unless the Holy Spirit is involved in the process.
Our responsibility as a media missionary is to get out of the way and allow God to do what he is going to do. It’s not our job to tell the audience what to think. All we are required is to develop a relationship with our audience. God will do the rest. Speaking with mercy, compassion, and kindness in our work will be more powerful than the words we use in our art. Media missionaries are motivated not by outrage but by outreach. Where in the past Christians have branded Hollywood in a negative light, our mission is to view Hollywood in a positive light so that we may enter into a discussion and dialogue.
Our mission is to restore the image of God. We are motivated to express truth in which our audience can respond on a deep, profound emotional level. We recognize that our current culture is motivated by postmodern philosophy. We must express art in such a way that they can experience truth in a relevant fashion that speaks to the heart.