Christian Media

Do I Hire Christians For My Faith-Based Project Or Hire Non-Christian Professionals?

One of the most frequent questions people ask me about hiring my media production crews is “Do you only hire Christians?” Whether it’s hiring a crew for a video, TV program, short film, or other media project for a church, ministry, or nonprofit, people often wonder what’s the best policy? Especially if it means hiring an unqualified Christian versus a qualified non-believer? Beyond the scope of the legal issues surrounding hiring these days, here’s my personal policy:

I always prefer hiring Christians for my projects because when you’re creating a faith-based project, it often takes a practical knowledge of our faith to accurately understand and express it. In the heat of the moment on a film set, I don’t have time to explain Christian terms, worship differences, or outcomes a church needs, or what the purpose of the project is about.

However, having said that, I’m happy to hire non-believers in those cases where I can’t find a qualified Christian, or cases where I need a non-believer’s unique perspective – and I’ve done that many times.

I always want to hire the best people, and I’ll never hire an unmotivated or untalented Christian over a motivated and talented unbeliever.

The only caveat? The non-believing crew members I hire have to respect what we’re doing. I absolutely will not tolerate anyone on the crew (Christian or non-Christian) who doesn’t have respect for the project, it’s purpose, or other members of the crew.

Years ago, I worked with a large media ministry who was convinced they needed to hire union members. So they hired union freelance camera operators and other crew members from Hollywood. The problem was that these freelancers not only weren’t Christians, but they openly ridiculed the pastor and the ministry. On the headset during taping, they would make jokes about the pastor, and make fun of the media outreach – worse, all within earshot of church members.

I begged the in-house producer to fire them and hire qualified people who would respect the ministry, but he refused. He was absolutely convinced that it took highly priced union members to run the cameras and operate the other equipment well.

Needless to say, because of that and many other bad choices, that particular media ministry doesn’t exist today.

Hiring the right people for your project is one of the most important things you will ever do. Find people who are the best – but make sure they respect the work, and want to produce the best possible project.

And who knows? If they’re non-Christians, the experience may even change their lives.

What’s been your experience or recommendations for hiring Christians versus non-Christians for faith-based projects?

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31 Comments

  1. Spirit filled believers who know when God is pleased with what they are doing in the moment and know to keep doing it, are key. They are the difference between a good project, and a project that really moves hearts and souls. And by the way, it’s just as true for secular projects.

    In my view, on big important project, key creative lead positions for any project should be seasoned spirit filled Christians who can guide the crew in the direction God is moving, the intstant He communicates. It could be as simple as feeling when to hold a shot a little longer, time a performance a little better, or say a line a bit differently.

    Great skills and experience are the standard, the baseline in any industry. Truly following the Holy Spirit in the moment to the point that God is co-creating and anointing the work, is what distinguishes our programing.

    The creator of the universe loves participating in our work!~B

    Feel the magic!
    https://youtu.be/skFsjd7L_rU

  2. I couldn’t agree with you more on each point you make here. But really, I feel that it largely depends on the position itself on whether the hire should be a believer or not. For instance, I was the Casting Director for a faith based film last year. I also cast the extras. Some where not believers. One extra has his own production company where he films a lot of “dark” content. He got a close up look at Christians on the set and was impressed with the unity and excellence of filmmaking. He also friended me on Facebook and “likes” many of the faith content I post. I’m glad I cast him. God is working on him.

    I also worked for a Christian television network where many of the camera operators were not Christians. The crude comments and mocking of Christian leaders that took place at times on the com’s was sickening. They were bad hires.

    My advice would simply be note the position you would hire a non-believer in when hiring for a faith based project. Be discerning, use wisdom. All that you say here Phil, is right on.

  3. In my experience as a Producer/Director I do take into consideration the project needs and roles first before hiring. So if I’m producing a project for a church or ministry I would most likely hire a qualified Christian first but it really just depends on the project. If it’s a mainstream project I’m also open to working with a Director of Photography or other key positions regardless of where they’re at on the path to faith. If I have a good relationship and trust the person, then I’m comfortable hiring them for any project.

  4. Too bad, in the example cited, they didn’t hire Christian union members. There are many in the industry and we all like to work, whether we’re in front of or behind the camera. All this is a bit problematic however as hiring / not hiring based on religious preference surely violates the law.

  5. I’m Christian, I’m a sound mixer and a member of IATSE local 695, It troubled me to hear that union members would behave in that way, as my experience working union productions is that they tend to be run a very professional way. The fact that you hire union means there is an expectation of professional quality, both in terms of skill and work ethic, and trash talking on a headset is clearly unprofessional. I suspect that there would have been one ring leader who initiated this behavior to whom someone could have approached to tell them to knock it off or he / she will be replaced.

    Obviously over professional life, I’ve worked all kinds of shows, Christian and non Christian. As I am the production sound mixer, the production hires me and then I am responsible for hiring the boom operator and the utility (and any other assistants depending on the size of the job). My regular hires are mostly not Christian, but they are great at what they do. I would struggle with being be told by a producer that my crew has to be Christian. My team conduct themselves in a very professional manner they would never behave in the way seen in the example above. We also work together as very well oiled machine, and so to have find someone else, just because the producer only wants Christians on their set would change that dynamic in our department. Of course I’m always looking for good people in case my regulars are not available, but to me a person’s faith is secondary to wether they are up to the job I need them to do.

    1. Great points Martin, and thank you for sharing. I couldn’t agree more that skill is paramount. I assume your show isn’t a faith-based program, so I would do the same thing. Thanks for posting!

      1. I’ve have brought my ‘A-Team’ with me on faith based shows too. Despite not sharing my spiritual views or necessarily sharing the vision of the project we are being hired to work on, my sound crew always conduct themselves in courteous and professional manner. They wouldn’t be working with me if they didn’t.

  6. One thing to remember legally, is the law that states you can’t “discriminate” on hiring someone based on religion has a limit. Faith-based organizations, educational institutions, and companies have a right to refuse to hire someone based on religious preference and are protected under the law to do so. For instance if you were a Christian ministry or school and someone applied for an admin job and you opted to not hire them based on the fact that they were not religious or practiced a different religion such as Islam, you would be well within your rights to not hire that person and are protected by the law for that decision. Another example is if you were working at a Jewish school and decided to become a transgender, the school is within its rights to fire you. The person may try to sue you under the impression the law supports them along with the EEOC, but they would lose in court.

  7. I did not discriminate when creating my three-season web series on Amazon Prime, “Meditations on Love.” Professionals are professionals. I work on non-faith-based shows and work as unto the Lord there…

  8. I can almost hear some turning in their Bibles to Deuteronomy 22:10, “Do not plow with an ox and a donkey yoked together,” or 2 Cor 6:14, “Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?” But do these verses apply to the provision of technical or artistic vendors? If the answer is yes, should the same standard be set for other professionals servicing a church or ministry? How about a building’s architect?

    Years ago a well known major metropolitan area church aired a weekly broadcast television program. An outside production company supplied all the labor including camera operators. Supposedly to insure a consistent product and production efficiencies, they hired the same crew members week after week. Though not all the crew members shared the same faith or beliefs as the ministry they were working for, they all did an excellent job … until one weekend Camera #3’s operator was not available to work.

    The outside production company hired a highly regarded replacement camera operator. There was a pre-broadcast camera meeting, discussion of which camera would get what shot when and all went relatively well until the service progressed to Holy Communion.

    The Director keyed the mic on his headset, “Camera #3, close-up on the eucharist.” Camera #3 did not respond.

    The Director repeated the call, still Camera #3 did nothing.

    The Director then said, “Camera #3, can you hear me? The Director saw on his preview monitor Camera #3’s shot tilt up and down twice (cameraman short-hand for ‘yes’ when talking on headset might prove to be a distraction to the congregants nearby.)

    The Director then said, “Camera #3, the host, close up on the host.” Still Camera #3 did nothing.
    The Director then tried, “Camera #3 close-up on the cookie, shoot the cookie!” Immediately Camera #3 zoomed in to a perfectly frames close-up of the Holy Sacrament.

    True story.

    Was the problem here the camera operator, or our assumptive ‘Christianese’ jargon? I would suggest the Director’s job of insuring effective communication with the audience at home starts with conspicuous communication with his crew members.

    Having had the opportunity to support various broadcast television ministries from time to time over the last few decades, it is my experience that in technical or artistic positions a highly competent non-believer can deliver a superior product compared to a mediocre believer. That is not to say that all non-believers are technically or artistically competent, or that all believers are inferior. It is to say that some areas of service, particularly when in a vendor/client relationship, having a technician serve your ministry operating a camera or mixing audio may not meet the same standard as teaching a Sunday School class or leading worship from the platform.

    Of course, church leaders will set their own standard subject to how they interpret scriptures. I just hope they read Solomon’s request to Phoenician King Hiram of Tyre (2 CH 2:3-7) and Huram-Abi (1 Kings 7:13–14) before they do.

    1. Great “cookie” story Tom! I’ve had a few experiences like that. Your advice is good. I tend to focus on Christians for jobs that need some theological insight, but there are plenty of other positions where a qualified non-believer will work, and who knows? We might make a positive impression on him or her in the process!

      1. Excellent thought. I would add making a positive impression starts with treating labor fairly and making sure people are paid on time. Small things like this speak louder than any sermon.

  9. I did not discriminate when creating my three-season web series on Amazon Prime, “Meditations on Love.” Professionals are professionals. I work on non-faith-based shows and work as unto the Lord there…

  10. Spirit filled believers who know when God is pleased with what they are doing in the moment and know to keep doing it, are key. They are the difference between a good project, and a project that really moves hearts and souls. And by the way, it’s just as true for secular projects.

    In my view, on big important project, key creative lead positions for any project should be seasoned spirit filled Christians who can guide the crew in the direction God is moving, the intstant He communicates. It could be as simple as feeling when to hold a shot a little longer, time a performance a little better, or say a line a bit differently.

    Great skills and experience are the standard, the baseline in any industry. Truly following the Holy Spirit in the moment to the point that God is co-creating and anointing the work, is what distinguishes our programing.

    The creator of the universe loves participating in our work!~B

    Feel the magic!
    https://youtu.be/skFsjd7L_rU

  11. I can almost hear some turning in their Bibles to Deuteronomy 22:10, “Do not plow with an ox and a donkey yoked together,” or 2 Cor 6:14, “Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?” But do these verses apply to the provision of technical or artistic vendors? If the answer is yes, should the same standard be set for other professionals servicing a church or ministry? How about a building’s architect?

    Years ago a well known major metropolitan area church aired a weekly broadcast television program. An outside production company supplied all the labor including camera operators. Supposedly to insure a consistent product and production efficiencies, they hired the same crew members week after week. Though not all the crew members shared the same faith or beliefs as the ministry they were working for, they all did an excellent job … until one weekend Camera #3’s operator was not available to work.

    The outside production company hired a highly regarded replacement camera operator. There was a pre-broadcast camera meeting, discussion of which camera would get what shot when and all went relatively well until the service progressed to Holy Communion.

    The Director keyed the mic on his headset, “Camera #3, close-up on the eucharist.” Camera #3 did not respond.

    The Director repeated the call, still Camera #3 did nothing.

    The Director then said, “Camera #3, can you hear me? The Director saw on his preview monitor Camera #3’s shot tilt up and down twice (cameraman short-hand for ‘yes’ when talking on headset might prove to be a distraction to the congregants nearby.)

    The Director then said, “Camera #3, the host, close up on the host.” Still Camera #3 did nothing.
    The Director then tried, “Camera #3 close-up on the cookie, shoot the cookie!” Immediately Camera #3 zoomed in to a perfectly frames close-up of the Holy Sacrament.

    True story.

    Was the problem here the camera operator, or our assumptive ‘Christianese’ jargon? I would suggest the Director’s job of insuring effective communication with the audience at home starts with conspicuous communication with his crew members.

    Having had the opportunity to support various broadcast television ministries from time to time over the last few decades, it is my experience that in technical or artistic positions a highly competent non-believer can deliver a superior product compared to a mediocre believer. That is not to say that all non-believers are technically or artistically competent, or that all believers are inferior. It is to say that some areas of service, particularly when in a vendor/client relationship, having a technician serve your ministry operating a camera or mixing audio may not meet the same standard as teaching a Sunday School class or leading worship from the platform.

    Of course, church leaders will set their own standard subject to how they interpret scriptures. I just hope they read Solomon’s request to Phoenician King Hiram of Tyre (2 CH 2:3-7) and Huram-Abi (1 Kings 7:13–14) before they do.

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