Friday, May 20, 2011

So is Hollywood a mission field?

So is Hollywood a mission field? According to Karen Covell, Director of the Hollywood Prayer Network, only 2% of media professionals go to church or synagogue. She goes on to say that Hollywood is an isolated society ignorant of and often hostile to Christianity. That would certainly qualify them as an unreached people group. People in Hollywood and the broader entertainment industry have often been described as a tribe because they have their own gods, customs, language, culture and belief systems. There are similarities in Hollywood to what we see in unreached people groups with strange customs in faraway places, such as Africa or South America. So why don’t we see Hollywood as a mission field?

Hollywood is like Nineveh. Jonah was commanded by God to announce His judgment. But Jonah had animosity toward these people because they were wicked. And he refused to do what God commanded because he knew God would have mercy on them. Eventually, Jonah accepted God’s will. Jonah 3:10 says, “And when God saw that they had put a stop to their evil ways, He had mercy on them and did not carry out the destruction He had threatened.” Because Jonah responded to God, the people of Nineveh were saved. Jonah 4:2—Jonah said, “This is why I ran away to Tarnish. I knew you were a gracious and compassionate God, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love. I knew how easily you could cancel your plans for destroying these people. Jonah 4:11 says, “But Nineveh has more than 120,000 people living in spiritual darkness. Shouldn’t I feel sorry for such a great city.” (And to this day, Nineveh for the most part is a Christian city.)

We know where God stands on the issue. Why are we acting like Jonah and refusing to go. First, we have been at war with Hollywood for so long, we know nothing else. We have made our views known through boycotts, threats, and protests. Often it has become ugly and, quite frankly, very unchristian. Sure, the content of many of the television shows and movies produced have contained offensive and questionable material, but that doesn’t justify our tactics. The fact is that many Christians simply hate the people in the entertainment industry.

Second, we blame Hollywood for polluting the minds of our youth. We see them as responsible for much of society’s problems, including pornography, drug use, violence, promiscuity and promoting anti-Christian views. For many of us, we just simply cannot forgive them for what they have done or what we think they have done. It also is hard to see Hollywood as a mission field when the people there enjoy a lifestyle of the rich and famous that includes wealth, power and influence.

And, finally, Hollywood and the broader entertainment industry doesn’t look like a third-world country. They don’t fit into our way of thinking. We like to put our Christianity in a nice, convenient box. Hollywood doesn’t fit into that box. In reality, most of the people who work and live in Hollywood and the entertainment industry are decent people much like us. They are not the stars that we think they are but are everyday working people trying to raise a family, pay the mortgage and just get by. They need to be reached just like everybody else. For every director or movie star, there are hundreds of people behind the scenes building the sets, moving the camera gear, setting lights, running the audio, etc. They are the people of Nineveh.

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