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Media has become the world’s most influential tool of reaching the largest numbers of people in the most cost effective way and changing their habits and behaviour. Although they often deny this it is still a well known fact that millions of dollars are spent every year to advertise on TV during the Super Bowl!

Jesus was a media person. When reaching the masses he always used parables – the ancient simple form of hiding a powerful truth inside of a normal story of everyday life.

As a producer we have turned out over a dozen TV series aimed at the Christian market. Yet it was only when we began to look closely at who Jesus’ audience was that we saw “the field is the world…” (Matthew 13:38 – All translations and versions!)

Reach the Nations

It is well and good to produce edifying films and television for Christians. Yet, Jesus called us to REACH the nations!

THAT is what is inside my mind and heart every time I step in front of or behind a camera on a secular production. I don’t even tend to use that phrase as mainstream is more descriptive and less condescending.

Recently I worked on a film with a well known Jewish producer. Almost all of the cast were Jewish – of every persuasion. I found it to be the greatest mission field that I have ever been on. Instead of explaining how to change their religion I shared with them how that much of what we call The New Testament is Jewish! The Lord’s Supper is not a Christian institution but the Jewish Passover! One cannot understand the “THIS” of the bread and the cup without knowing that there were other cups and other breads in the service and ceremony.

And to me this is the key to being a Christian producer in a secular film – CONNECT with those around you. I always tend to google and research the people I am about to or are working with – their schools, universities, religious background, family (often they have a Christian parent or relative somewhere in their line). What awards have they won? What else have they produced that I might have a connection with? What country do they / their family originally come from?

Connect with People

In our rush to get the spiritual laws down pat have we forgotten that the topics Jesus CONNECTED with people most were water, seeds, husbands, geography and family? We must show that we genuinely care about and love (with the agape love of God) that person before they will open the stronghold gates of their heart and personal beliefs to us!

On a Jewish film set I spoke about the tassels the actors were all wearing and how THIS is what the woman touched to be healed. They all KNEW that this stood for the promises of God.

I love the interaction that Jesus had with the Samaritan woman at the well. It, to me, even seems cinematic. The focus, from Jesus, is NOT on religion or temples or traditions. A simple glass/bucket of water is his focus. This almost confuses the woman who is use to the banter between Jews and Samaritans. She – religion, He – needs. She – places, He-family. She – family, He – BUT THERE’S MORE! The end result is a whole town being transformed by a simple chat about thirst quenching. That is the kind of film making that I want to offer the world. In it’s almost Colombo-style simplicity the utter wisdom of the ages is portrayed so that even a child can understand it – and respond!

Film is all about People

At the end of the day every producer and director will tell you that a successful film is ALL ABOUT people. I am an observer and a listener. I watch how a star will connect with a lighting person and ask about his family or his favourite hobby. Yet we, as Christians, go straight for the kill – ready to drive our swords into hearts that have not been opened. AT the same time we sometimes have just minutes to share the Gospel and need to have our elevator testimony ready at hand!

This whole subject area could have volumes written about it but I will end at what could be the starting point for a whole article – the story! As I often film in closed countries that censor our material I, quite often, must tell the story that I want to tell – VISUALLY!

My most vivid memory is that of Mary in one of the films about the life of Jesus. She stands at the door of the woman’s court watching her son being circumcised. At the same time a lamb is being sacrificed and his life given for sins. She looks at Jesus then the lamb and then back again. Without words you KNOW that she realises the full impact of the words “The Lamb of God to take away the sins of the world!”

THAT is the impact that we can have influencing the minds and hearts of those that we are attempting to reach with an eternal truth that spans cultures and centuries.

David Sullivan has been involved in both media and ministry for over 4 decades in the US and UK as well as humanitarian work in places such as North Korea. His autobiography “Progress of a Modern Pilgrim” is being released in June in the US and UK. He can be found online at: www.principles.tv

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2 Responses

  1. James

    This was an interesting read. I agree with the spirit of this article. I’m a union production sound mixer in NY and I’m often asked by other Christians how I work in such a secular industry. My response is that the industry needs more light and more folks like myself in it, not running away from it. Nothing will change is Christians stick to their bubble. It’s great for Christians to enjoy content and have an outlet for that, of course, but overall for me I’d rather be the light in the darkness. Good read

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  2. Che'valier Paul

    I enjoyed reading this article and perspective that the author formulated to be able to share the gospel without hammering people dogmatically. It turns some people off in Harding their heart to hear the life giving words that you are speaking to them. In dealing with people in general you have to find your commonality with them which in turn opens up their receptivity to build a rappore with you to talk on deeper levels.. Thanks enjoyed it being a producer also…

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