Friday, April 16, 2010

The Rise of the Media Missionary

Something happened in the early 1990s. It’s not easy to define or to put into words. God was moving and pouring out his Spirit on the entertainment industry. Some say that it started with Bob Briner book, Roaring Lambs , in which Briner called for a new generation of Christian youth to rise up and enter into cultural shaping professions like television, film and media. He believed that if we were going to change the world, it would not happen unless we were involved in the arts. Unfortunately, most of the Body of Christ seemed uninterested or unaware of what God was doing. But, no question about it, something was happening. God was at work, and he wanted us to join him.

I know for myself during this time something changed in my life. I started to talk about media missionaries to anyone who would listen. I, too, was convinced that if we were going to change the world we were going to have to tackle the issue of the ever-expanding media culture. I believe the key is to train, equip, and develop media missionaries who will enter into mainstream media to create art that reflects God’s glory and truth.

As I started to talk to people, most were convinced I had lost my mind. Why would we want to send our young people into such an ungodly environment? What good would come of it, and how could God use entertainment for any good whatsoever? But, again, God was doing something. He has his plan regardless of whether or not we agree with it. In fact, I hadn’t even read Bob Briner’s book and would not discover it for another five years.

Looking back now, you can clearly see the hand of God at work. The evidence is overwhelming. Not only was God moving to call Christians to Hollywood, but he was also moving on the hearts of nonbelievers to produce material that reflected Biblical values. In 1999 alone, more films were being produced that related Gods’ truth than in the entire decade. Was this by accident? Or was it a move of God’s Spirit? Something was happening.

Also during this time, several Christian ministries like Act One and Hollywood Prayer Network opened their doors. And more Christians felt the tug to enter into the mainstream arena of entertainment and media. They may not have clearly understood what a media missionary was supposed to do, but they knew God was moving in some fashion.

Maybe you are part of this new movement. Believe me. You are part of something big. It is perhaps our last best hope. Nothing happens by accident. I’m convinced God has a plan for media, and it is part of the next great revival to sweep our culture. In fact, I’m not sure revival will come without a response to our current media culture crisis.

So here’s my advice. If you believe you are a media missionary, or if you are already working in the industry and trying to understand what your purpose is, don’t let anyone talk you out of your determination to be a media missionary or to try and change your direction. Don’t compromise. Stand firm and be determined to follow God’s plan. After all, his plan is the best plan. Trust me. There will always be somebody who will come along and try to convince you that you are on the wrong path or that’s it’s impossible to serve God while working in Hollywood or the mainstream entertainment industry. Don’t take the bait.

Here’s what I think God is saying to us. Make sure that you have been called to be a media missionary. The calling is essential and is a necessary requirement if you plan to work professionally in the entertainment industry. Here’s what a media missionary is not about. It’s not about a genre. Whether you make a comedy, a drama or even positive value or family-friendly programming isn’t important. Don’t get caught in this trap. It’s also not about a rating. It’s not important if the project you are working on is rated G or R. That’s not the issue. It’s also not about whether or not the project contains Christian content or not. You can make a film that is more Christian in nature than most “Christian” films which contain overt Christian themes and content.

A media missionary sees no division between the sacred or secular. It does not exist. All forms of entertainment and media are capable of reflecting God’s truth and glory. That’s what God is trying to get across to us if we are willing to listen. In fact it’s very Biblical.

For the media missionary, everything therefore becomes an act of worship to God. This is a revolutionary concept that will transform your life if you will truly understand it and embrace it. The entire idea of a media missionary starts with this concept.

Here’s where we get off course. When we fail to allow the Holy Spirit to control and direct our lives, we start to focus on what we want instead of what God is doing. As a result, we become ineffective as media missionaries. That’s not what God wants. Sure, we might create media that’s positive or uplifting, but is that really going to make a difference? God is moving, and something is happening in the entertainment industry. We need art that reflects God’s truth. In order to do that, we must come to the place where we see God at work in the entertainment industry. He’s already there at work. All we need to do is to adjust our lives to fit his plan and join him in what he is dong. It is never the other way around. When we do this, we are functioning as media missionaries. It’s not about what we want or what we think will be successful or commercially viable. We must leave that up to God.

His Spirit has been pouring out for nearly 20 years. He is looking for a generation of committed Christians who are not concerned with their agendas but only with what God is doing in the world. Media is the battleground for the 21st Century. It more likely will be the determining factor for what the Body of Christ will look like in this century. You are part of something huge. Be encouraged and determined to follow this pathway even though there will be challenges and obstacles. Something is happening in our culture, and it is the rise of the media missionary.

If you feel this is talking to you, let me know. That’s why we are here at media missionary school—to help you in your journey. Contact me at

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