Monday, March 7, 2011

Should You Come Out of the Closet?

What if you are a Christian who works in the entertainment industry, Hollywood or elsewhere? How open should you be about your faith? Do you call a press conference and announce to the world that you are a believer. Should you give interviews? Or should you start a blog or a website? Just how vocal should you be? I think it’s a question that a lot of believers who work in the entertainment and media business struggle with. I’ve talked to a number of them. Some of them are concerned that it could hurt their career. Others are concerned about their ability to be effective in ministry.

It’s a valid point. If you go on record and announce to the world that you are trying to save people for Christ or proclaim yourself a media missionary, it could have negative repercussions. You could be seen as another nut case, a crazy evangelical pushing your beliefs on people who don’t want to hear it. In other words, all of your hard efforts to gain trust, build relationships and develop friendships could fall apart.

The very people you are trying to reach, your peers who work in the industry, could misread your intentions. So maybe it’s better to fly under the radar screen and stay in the closet. It could be your best bet to remain effective in ministry by quietly and effectively proclaiming the love of Christ through your actions and deeds.

But remaining in the closet has another downside, one that I think that many Christians who work in media and entertainment haven’t recognized. To effectively reach Hollywood and the entertainment industry and to build the case that indeed Hollywood is a valid mission field requires the help and the support of the Body of Christ. We need the local church actively involved in this effort. But how are they going to see this as a mission field if they don’t know what’s actually happening on the ground floor? If they don’t hear the stories and the testimonies of Christian filmmakers and media makers living missional lifestyles, then how will they be motivated to embrace Hollywood as a mission field?

I can’t count the times that missionaries have spoken at churches that I have attended over the years with their stories of what God is doing in their lives and in the lives of the people they are trying to reach. It is inspiring to see their dedication and commitment to fulfill the Great Commission. For years, foreign missionaries have made a connection with the local church. By doing so we all have come to realize that we are in this together. The support of the local church is crucial in the work of foreign missions. But who’s telling the stories of the triumphs taking place in the mission field that we call Hollywood and the entertainment industry? If most Christian are reluctant to talk about what they are doing, how will the local church ever be inspired and motivated to help support missions efforts in Hollywood?

Yes, there are a few voices out there. Karen Covell from the Hollywood prayer network has been speaking on these matters for years. But it’s going to take more people to reach the Body of Christ and the local church. Without the local church actively involved through prayer, resources and finances, we will never effectively reach the entertainment industry for Christ. It will take a team effort. So the question remains. How do we balance the need for confidentiality for Christians who work in media and entertainment to be effective in their ministries while, at the same time, having the ability to tell our stories to the local church? It’s a perplexing problem.

As I said, the local church needs to be educated and aware of what is actually happening in Hollywood. I’m not sure there’s an easy answer, but I know we have to find one. There must be some way that both of these goals can occur at the same time without hurting one or the other. I’m sure most Christian who are serious about their faith want to speak out. But, more importantly, they want to be effective in making a difference. Somewhere today on the back lots, the editing rooms, the production sets, and the studio offices in Hollywood the love of Christ is being played out and demonstrated in the lives of believers who work in this business. Let’s work together to find a way to tell those stories while allowing media missionaries to remain effective in their ministry.

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