Christian MediaCreative LeadershipEngaging Culture

It’s Time to Change Course in Media

OK – over the last six months, we’ve discussed some pretty seedy stuff. TV evangelists getting divorces, and yet not missing a day in the pulpit or on TV, allegations of very weird financial and personal improprieties, and the strangest sexual stuff we’ve heard in a long time. We discussed it and debated it, and I think it’s time for a change. Our job isn’t to focus on the lurid, it’s to look ahead at the media possibilities out there. How do people of faith tell their story in a media driven culture?

Over the last six months, we’ve seen how people can screw it up, but the question remains, how can we do it better? So let’s start with some people who are doing it right:

First, let’s start with Miss HIV – a documentary film by Jim Hanon at Ethnographic Media. Powerful stuff. I saw it debuted at the Egyptian Theater in Hollywood a few weeks ago, and I highly recommend it. It takes a tough look at a difficult topic. Jim directed The End of the Spear, and Beyond the Gates, and I’ve been a fan of his creative ability for a long time. Check out the website and movie, and look for the upcoming projects Ethnographic Media is doing.

Second is Web Serials. Josh Sikora is only a few years out of college at Biola University and had a remarkable revelation. He wanted to be a “Hollywood Director,” and realized it would take at least 10 years to achieve that dream. However, Josh also knew that in 10 years Hollywood as we know it, might not exist. So he created Renaissance Pictures, and set out to build a web entertainment company that would reach the digital generation. His web based serials may one day change the way we watch movies and TV.

Finally, Scott Derrickson is in Vancouver right now directing Fox’s remake of the classic science fiction thriller: The Day The Earth Stood Still. It scared the daylights out of me when I was a kid, and Scott’s $80 million remake is going to be amazing. My wife Kathleen and I visited Scott and his wife Joyce on location last week, and he showed me the pre-visualization scenes, and it will be impressive. Scott’s a believer, and through sheer talent and skill is working his way through mainstream Hollywood. He directed last year’s thriller “The Exorcism of Emily Rose” and is on a major trajectory.

All these people are impacting the culture in original and innovative ways. They’re not preaching, they’re using their skills and gifts to tell the stories that are important to them. Instead of the mansions, luxury cars, financial questions, sexual issues, and more crap that have been heaped on a lot of Christian media organizations and personalities lately, it’s refreshing to see men and women who are creative, passionate, and committed to their faith and to their art. Let’s start celebrating these and others, and hopefully, the rest will fade into the sunset…


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  1. When it comes to theology and sharing our faith we often get pressed into the common, somewhat stereotypical modes of communication – preaching and evangelization. Focus tends to be on the preachers and pastors to get the job done, much in the same way that some groups in society often look to police, school administration or government officials to get things done, while not doing much themselves. However, it takes All of us to make a positive impact that will change the trajectory of those around us. It is possible for us to use All of our gifts and talents to make a difference in the lives of others, bringing glory to God. I am excited to see those sharing their faith, through the compelling use of their gifts given them by God.

    Allen Paul Weaver III
    author, Transition: Breaking Through the Barriers

  2. Hi Phil,  1 of the "musts" for future media is… We have to find the content (or encourage the content) that's going to be "Must-See-TV" for Christian audiences. Advertisers will flock to it once it happens. Then there'll be more money in the kitty to produce even more. But, how do we get from here to there? guys like yourself will help to prod the creators of such shows onto better and better work. I think that once we see this surge of great Christian media, a bunch of people will be thanking you. so, keep engaging the conversation, Phil! I keep telling other creatives about this blog – I feel it's a great place on the web.

  3. "Strong judgments"…not anymore than my predecessors.

    I think I made my point.

    Sorry, to have rattled cages…twas my intent. 🙂

  4. No offense taken on my end.  You appear to be upset that the scandal at ORU was discussed both from a direct media approach as well as the impact upon Christianity in general.

    Most of the people discussing it in the limited context here were like myself and you directly tied to ORU, you by your family and me by having been a student there.  Others are professionals in the media field.

    Believe me, the treatment here was far more objective and kind than anything you would find in a vast majority of sites and blogs on the web. 

    I'm glad you have high respect for Oral Roberts Ministries.  I have respect for it as well and the affect upon my life, most of which, not all though, has been positive.  It grieves me that the issues there, many of which I saw in my 5 years there, (I was a double major), experienced, and now see 22 years later, how they have developed and their results.

    I respectfully don't think you've made much of a point other than to express your belief apparantly that it is wrong to express concern, or any level of judgement, over the impact of the situation there currently, and to consider the impact of the accusations made, and the underlying facts which to many give a serious appearance of impropriety.  The focus here, as best I can see has been on the response of the ministry and particularly the focal point, Richard Roberts and whether those responses have been effective in terms of how the play in the media, the Christian Community and the non-Christian Community. 

    The reason I found this site and have chosen to post is precicely because I think the treatment has been remarkably balanced, fair, respectful and kind; overwhelmingly so, when compared with the great balance of treatement on the web in general.

  5. First – thoughts about the discussion preceeding:

    Heard of the "Inklings"?

    Maybe we can consider this a 21st century version.  Though this is a discussion about all media impact on today's culture, the Inklings were more focused on literature and fantasy with a Christian emphasis.  The groups biggest members were C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien (and their sons).

    It was partially because of lengthy, frank and honest discussions with his fellow Inklings that C.S. Lewis turned from a life of atheism to Christ.  Yes, the group allowed athiest.  The Christian Lewis wrote both books of Christian apologetics (teaching) and fantasy stories and novels.  Several (like "The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe") were read aloud (along with others like maybe Tolkein's "The Hobbit") in the Inkling meetings.  His fellow Inklings were probably his most severe critics as well as consistant and mutual allies and friends.  They didn't start the group with the idea that greatness would come out of it, but it did.

    Thanks again Phil for starting this blog where I can rub shoulders with others (current and future greats in media) with a common dream – to take a message of Love and the Savior, in a media form, to a spiritually starving culture.

    To my fellow – "Cookelings"(?) – I appreciate the support but have also taken seriously the constructive criticism.  I can only hope things I've said or done helped or inspired others in even a small way.

    That said – some thoughts about "Changing the Course of Media":

    Phil, are you slimming our discussion to just the dramatic arts?  I thought Christian media included the preachers.  Just like C.S. Lewis didn't bring his "Mere Christianity" to read in the Inkling meetings, if you say so, I'll keep my points focused on the dramatic arts.  I have some thoughts about the "crap" heaped on preachers but I won't spout until I know it's part of your "change".

  6. Do we really believe that God has a clue on how the media works? Do we think that God knows technology and its applications? Do we actually believe that God can do extraordinary things in the media that have not been done before or put to better use? Because if we do, maybe we won’t get so caught up about Hollywood? Maybe we would stop deifying Hollywood the way we do to the point where we are just paralysed by their size or seek their approval of us like the armies of Israel who were caught up with the size and words of Golaith and the Israelites who were so intimidated with the size of giants in the land that they called themselves grasshoppers – without the help of the giants!

    I think we are the ones who underestimate what we are capable of doing in the Lord because our trust is not in Him but our own abilities (whether it is the abundance or the lack of them). As powerful as the church is as divided we are. We because we do not understand authority, unity or love from the Lord’s perspective. If we were one with diversity we would be universal in our approach in the media because we would use our differences to show and reflect Who God is and who we are in Him. Church needs to operate as a family primarily not an organisation. New Testament church is done like family and that has always been God’s heart from the beginning – family. By this will all men (media world included) know that we belong Jesus by the love we have one for another.

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