The Blog

Projecting DignityApril 16th, 2018 by 


Each year, as I consider which films I want to see at the Sundance Film Festival, I find myself giving preference to the documentaries. To cinematically be transported to foreign cultures and exposed to the beauty and pain of their experiences can be transformative. One such film was War Dance, chronicling the story of three Ugandan refugee children whose lives are torn apart by war and then brought together as they prepare to take part in a nationwide music and dance competition. In the filmmakers juxtaposition between the atrocities and resilience of the human spirit, he brought such dignity and honor to these children who were trying to make sense of life in a world far dissimilar to mine – producing in me an empathy, admiration and respect for people and places that I was previously unaware.

Whoever oppresses a poor man insults his Maker, but he who is generous to the needy honors him. (Proverbs 14:31)

One of the most powerful lyrics ever written comes from “O’ Holy Night” in the verse, “Till He appeared and the soul felt its worth.” When Jesus Christ left the glory of heaven and visited this soiled world, He brought unearned and unmerited dignity to all of mankind. Sinful human beings were bestowed value, demonstrated worth by the simple but incompressible fact that our righteous Creator chose to come to our doorsteps. Jesus brought dignity by dining with the vilified tax collector, by granting mercy to the accused adulterous woman and allowing the sinful women to wet his feet with her tears. Without condoning or overlooking the damage caused by wrong or immoral behavior, Jesus first restores dignity to the brokenhearted – they are welcomed by God. And His goodness leads to their repentance.

Atticus Finch: If you just learn a single trick, Scout, you’ll get along a lot better with all kinds of folks. You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view… Until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it. (To Kill A Mockingbird)

Movies are a powerful medium, granting the viewer entry into the world of someone else. When a filmmaker “appears” in the life of the “other” with a lens of dignity, it can take beautiful strides in acknowledging the intrinsic value that God places on every human being. But conversely, a camera can also be a powerful weapon of destruction when used to project a skewed, derogatory, unfair stereotype that brings with it ridicule and scorn, degrading an individual or people group. The filmmaker has to decide going in, am I going to use my camera to ultimately illuminate or degrade?

Behind the camera, increasingly we hear the heartbreaking accounts of individuals, usually in a place of power, holding the dignity of others hostage. We see it reflected in personal stories of sexual violations, vile verbal slurs, racial discrimination and so many more displays of human degradation. The treatment of others as objects to be used for one’s means rather than as someone fearfully and wonderfully made by their Holy Creator; is fueled by the erroneous thinking that by lowering someone else’s value, I will increase my own self-worth.

And the deep harm brought to a life by these assaults on an individual, are having a ripple effect on so many others within the media and entertainment industry. I hear the tragic stories of media professionals overnight losing their jobs, income and livelihood due to cancellations caused by the cruel actions of the star of their show or the head of their production company.

Of course these issues are not unique to the film industry. Tragically, they can be found throughout this fallen world – in most industries, organizations and communities. But the level of belittling seems to be on the rise, particularly on social media. This growing onslaught of ugliness is eroding the fabric of our society. There is a meanness to our cultural conversation. How desperately we need the love of God to fill our hearts, allowing us to see and treat our fellowman in the same manner that God sees and treats each one of us!

At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another. But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. (Titus 3: 3 -5)

Appearing at the office door of a media executive; grabbing a cup of coffee with a film producer; praying with a media professional whose life has gone off the rails – all lie at the heart of Mastermedia. Our hope and intent is to project the kindness and love of God in a manner that reflects the invaluable price that God Himself paid in order to restore us back into relationship with our Creator.



Bridge BuildersFebruary 9th, 2018 by 


In the 1989 Disney Classic The Little Mermaid, the mermaid princess Ariel is dissatisfied with her underwater life. Spotting a reflection at the bottom of the ocean, a sunken fork provides Ariel a glimpse into a different world… a human world. . As she fantasizes about what it might be like “up there,” she longs to be “part of their world.” But it’s not until her father, King Triton, provides a way—a “bridge”—that she is able to cross over into a life above the sea.

We’ve all seen movies that introduced us to lands we’ve never known or human struggles we’ve never experienced. I’ve seen so many films, especially documentaries at the Sundance Film Festival, that have provided a “bridge” of understanding to a world of which I was previously unaware. These cinematic bridges made a new connection possible for me.

But despite this digital age of unprecedented global connectivity, as a culture we seem to be more divided than ever before. Movies may serve as bridges, allowing us to cinematically travel across the great divide from the known to the unknown. But oh how we need far more kinds of bridges built than movies can ever provide… bridges that connect two things that are presently disconnected, bridges that make a WAY where there wasn’t a WAY before!


Deep in the heart of God resides a bridge builder. Long before mankind put an insurmountable divide between himself and God, the Lord had conceived His plan to provide a way—a bridge—for mankind to cross back over the divide, reuniting mankind to the Creator.

God calls us to be bridge builders as well.

Throughout the Scriptures, we see God’s people creating bridges that didn’t previously exist. Jesus with the Samaritan woman at the well creates a bridge between ethnicities and genders (John 4). The Apostle Peter creates a bridge between Jew and


Gentile when he enters the home of Cornelius (Acts 10). And the Apostle Paul crosses the divide between Jew and Roman when he appeals to Caesar (Acts 25).

I was asked recently, “If Mastermedia had a symbol, what would it be?” Without hesitation I answered, “A bridge.” Our mission is to bridge the gap between the Christian audience and the media producers who fill our screens, to connect the Christian community with the Hollywood community, and to create a respectful dialog about faith with the secular media professional. These are the divides that God has called us to bridge.

To whom has God asked you to build a bridge?

All Power is Given!January 10th, 2018 by 

Recently, accusations began to surface of the long history of sexual harassment and assaults perpetrated by film mogul Harvey Weinstein. Soon, he was joined by a growing number of other entertainers, journalists, and media executives who are fielding similar prior and on-going allegations.

As the scandal grew I was asked by a television interviewer, “What are we learning from these accusations?”

I responded with, “The first thing we need to understand is that all power is given . . . it’s a gift. When unrestrained power is bestowed upon an individual, they have a choice to make. Do they use the power given them for good or for evil?”

I then explained that in the media world this evil use of power through sexual harassment, assault or sexual leveraging brings with it some added dynamics . . .

Power over individual lives.

The entertainment industry, a business overflowing with rejection and insecurity, cultivates a climate extremely susceptible to the fear and desperation of “this job could be your last.” One role can launch an entire career, just as fast as the loss of a role can place you in the “where-are-they-now” file. This culture can leave aspiring talent vulnerable to unintentionally being in harm’s way or, in the aftermath of an assault, maintaining a cloak of silence . . . especially when they’ve heard those threatening words, “You’ll never work in this town again!”

Power over the culture.

The immoral values, unethical actions, and hedonistic lifestyles of many of the fictional characters illuminated across our screens, can have a devastating and destructive impact on individuals and society at large when actually lived out behind the closed doors of real life. Characters who seek instant gratification at any cost, a life governed by an “if it feels good, do it” philosophy, the mockery of celibacy, monogamy and traditional marriage; all of these and more can have an eroding effect upon our entire culture.

Power over the abuser.

A final observation . . . it’s ironic that as these accounts of harassment within the media world dominate the global headlines, God is using the very medium through which these powerbrokers acquired their wealth and dominion to shine a light on their grievous personal sin.

“Pilate said, ‘Don’t you realize I have power . . . ?’ Jesus answered, ‘You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above.’” (John 19:10-11)

To close with a note of hope, an encouraging number of the talented artists I’ve had the pleasure to work with and executives I’ve had the honor to meet with, are wonderful, kindhearted, well-intentioned men and women, who are trying to walk humbly and do good with the power, talents, and platforms they have been given. Furthermore, I would be remiss not to acknowledge the many stories emanating out of the studios and networks that inspire viewers with tales of heroism, courage, self-sacrifice, family, kindness, love, and good triumphing over evil.

Many of the discussions that Mastermedia is privileged to have with the world’s media leaders, are fueled by dialogue about the transformational power of the Spirit of God to live a good life, and to impact culture with uplifting, values-based films.

In order for the media world’s good to triumph over the evil perpetrated by a small number of corrupt individuals, God would first have His people pray!

 PRAY that God in His abundant love would bring healing and mend the brokenness in the shattered lives of the many victims of these devastating assaults.

PRAY that God would bring all the perpetrators to justice and repentance, and that they ultimately would find forgiveness and wholeness in God’s unfailing mercy and grace.

PRAY that this devastating season in media can lead to its greatest spiritual and ethical revival, ultimately impacting all of humankind . . . for good.

And as we pray, we would do well to also examine our own hearts and actions.




“In The Room Where It Happens”July 22nd, 2017 by 

In the Broadway mega-hit “Hamilton,” Alexander Hamilton, Thomas Jefferson, and James Madison are behind closed doors, deciding on foundational policies that would still have major ramifications today . . . and all behind closed doors. On the outside stands the excluded Aaron Burr, bemoaning that he’s not in on the conversation. When George Washington asks, “What to you want, Burr?” Burr replies, “I wanna be in the room where it happens!”

“I wanna be in the room where it happens!”

To have our voice heard, for individuals to have the ability to speak into conversations that affect their lives, to be represented . . . all go to the heart of our democracy. However, in the media world—which consists of private for-profit corporations—many influential decisions are being made, and often only the loudest voices get “in the room where it happens.”

Second only to profits, perhaps the leading influencers that dictate what the world sees on its screens, are the numerous, diverse voices representing many of the demographic threads of the American fabric. These voices speak for fragments of our culture divided by gender, race, political leanings, lifestyle, ethnic background, or other special interests. Some are large and some are small, but their objective is the same: to effectively urge, and often vehemently demand, that their factions be favorably reflected in TV and film characters and storylines.

However, America’s largest people group—followers of Jesus Christ*—is all too often, “not in the room where it happens!” The closest we get to the decision-making process is when we decide whether or not to turn on our TV. [* 75% of Americans identify with a Christian religion, Gallup Dec 2015]

What is our voice? . . .

1) Ours is an absent voice.

Why isn’t the Christian voice being heard? In a previous Median (Winter 2017), I chronicled how during the infancy of Hollywood, America’s Christian community was the deciding voice. But a few decades later, offended by what Hollywood was offering, people of faith pushed back their chairs, walked out of the room, and cocooned themselves in the sanctuary of our churches. The generations that followed were discouraged from entering the media business. As the church relinquished the responsibility of providing or supporting positive, life-affirming films, the secular film culture filled the void!

So for many years, the term Christian media professional became an oxymoron. The Christian light in Hollywood dimmed and was in danger of being extinguished.

Christians will often complain that the “religious” people they see in movies or TV are either pious hypocrites or insane serial killers who claim that God spoke to them through their dog. Where is the portrayal of a compassionate, thoughtful, caring person of authentic faith?

There’s an old adage among screenwriters: “Write what you know.” So what if the screenwriter doesn’t know any Christians?

A good writer who does his research may be pleasantly surprised by what he finds. But a lazy (or perhaps already biased) writer may simply fall back on prevalent unflattering false portrayals . . . and the cycle continues. From the screen, this image spreads throughout our culture, leaving many who are without a sincere Christ-follower in their lives to buy into the not-so-Christ-like stereotypes of Christians as portrayed in today’s media.

Jesus called us to be the light of the world . . . where is light needed the most, but in the darkest of places? We are the salt of the earth . . . where does righteousness need to be preserved more than among a powerful, decaying influencer?

2) Ours is an assumed voice.

Seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple, [a man lame from birth] asked to receive alms . . . expecting to receive something from them. But Peter said, “I have no silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk!”  (Acts 3)

As the lame man did with Peter and John, people often have an expectation of what they are going to get from a Christian. These expectations are usually based on preconceived assumptions. Some have a positive notion of a person of faith, much like this lame man did . . . that Christians are a generous, compassionate, giving people. But sadly, many have a much more negative perception of Christians . . . that we are a hypocritical, judgmental, mean-spirited group.

In the media world, the assumption adopted by many media leaders has been built by years of hearing a voice of anger bouncing off of the pages of hate letters or the shouts of protest outside their office windows. But what if a kindhearted, thoughtful Christian voice displaced this erroneous assumption. What if the Christian voice, like Peter and John’s, offered something so much better than protest, but something that was reasonable, affirming and beneficial to our culture, as well as their financial bottom line?

3) Ours is a needed voice.

Films are often promoted as “The Feel Good Movie of the Year.” These are films that touch our hearts, bring a smile to our face, movies that make us cheer or shout with glee! Films whose happy endings conclude with scenes of redemption (Les Miserables), self-sacrifice (It’s a Wonderful Life), good triumphant over evil (Star Wars), standing courageously by your convictions (Chariots of Fire), “right” winning the day (High Noon), or that which was lost is found (Finding Nemo).

Isn’t it interesting that all of these themes which so resonant with the human spirit are values of the Kingdom of God? It’s the way God wired us! These movies give us a glimpse of how the world was supposed to be! We are spiritually transported back to the reality of walking through a garden in the cool of the day, conversing with our Creator.

Films that inspire us to be our better selves are not only successful, but think of the positive effect they have on our culture.

The destiny of the world is determined less by the battles that are lost and won than by the stories it loves and believes in. —Harold Goddard, U.S. Educator

Entry into “the room where it happens” is earned through compelling creativity, excellence of craft and being a constant, genial, reasonable, beneficial voice.  Let this serve as a CALL to all Christian creatives to endeavor to expand our voice . . . to deserve our seat at the table . . . to be “in the room where it happens!”

“A Conversation” Appearing at a Theatre Near YouApril 27th, 2017 by 

Imagine my surprise when, after offering my three grandchildren the option of watching Star Wars during a cousin sleepover at our house, they passed on “The Force” and suggested instead, “Let’s have a conversation!” When I asked, “What’s a conversation?” our 6-year-old replied, “It’s when a lot of people get together and talk and talk and talk and talk about a lot of random things.”

Over the past decade, we’ve all witnessed the explosion of interactive communication triggered by the pervasive onslaught of digital media. And seemingly overnight, the most overheard word in the English language became—conversation.

Conferences that used to feature a lecture, talk, or teaching are now forums or symposiums inviting us to “join a larger conversation” taking place—one that allows our #hashtag voices to shape the narrative. But is this phenomenon, in fact, new?

In Acts 17, we see that when the Apostle Paul entered into Athens, he immediately sought out the center of the cultural conversation. Where was it taking place? He found his answer in the Athenian “Starbucks” of yesteryear . . . the marketplace. And who was leading that conversation? The non-theistic philosophers who were shaping and guiding the public discourse toward the ideological “soup of the day.”

In today’s post-modern world, who is leading the Athenian center of conversations and where do we find them? In Plato’s time he observed it was “the storytellers that rule society.” Today, a fair cinematic spin would be that “the moviemakers rule society.” How often is the movie you saw at the local theater on Saturday night the topic of conversation in the office coffee room on Monday? The stories shown on our screens inspire us, thrill us, scare us, amuse us, spark our imaginations, and fuel our conversations. We connect with movies and share them to connect with others.

Different films spark unique kinds of dialogue. And independent films (like those shown at the Sundance Film Festival), provoke quite a different conversation than the films you might see at your local cineplex. Many independent films are putting a spotlight on a sober, more complex side of humanity. Frequently challenging, enlightening, illuminating, and occasionally breaking our hearts over injustice . . . all fodder for deeper, more introspective discussion.

But that isn’t to say that big-budget Hollywood fare—in all of its exciting, lighthearted escapism—doesn’t generate meaningful conversation long after the credits roll. Star Wars, for example, is chock-full of after-viewing allegorical topics, such as good vs. evil, the loss of a father, and a power outside of ourselves.

Movies, and the conversations they ignite, matter!

 The stories we watch can often provide divine on-ramps to a dialog about the truth and grace of the gospel—relatable, understandable truths so crucial to our culture. Just as Paul entered the marketplace to tell the Athenians about the “unknown God,” we need to see the world as groping for a truth to live by, yet unknown to them, until someone is bold enough to enter into a cordial discourse about a God who knows and loves them.

Fond Memories of The Late Show with David LettermanFebruary 20th, 2017 by 

After 30+ years, David Letterman ended his show on May 20, 2015.  I spent that morning chatting with some of my wonderfully talented, kind friends on the Late Show staff back in New York. I had the pleasure and honor to help produce all of the shows that Dave did on the West Coast (LA & SF) as well as the many remote segments (ie. Biff Henderson at the Grammy’s, Dave’s Mom at the Olympics and Mandy Patinkin singing college fight songs in the shower). Here are my…
Top 10 Memories from The Late Show with David Letterman:
10) Spending a week with the Late Show staff at the historic Ed Sullivan Theater on Broadway for tapings of Letterman, then after show dinner at some of NY’s finest.
9) During rehearsal in LA, frantically trying to arrange a driver to pick-up the missing guest Bette Midler. Turns out she was there all the time, but we mistook her for the wardrobe mistress. After a brief time in make-up she brought the house down with her musical number.
8) Three weeks in San Francisco with my production partner Jim Ripple – forming the– Rupple /Ripple Connection – as we prepared for a week of unbelievable shows at the Palace of the Fine Arts.
7) Guest Tom Hanks – he made an appearance during each of Dave’s visits to LA, wonderfully, kind man.
6) Spending a day with Tommy Lasorda as he swam laps at the LAPD pool throughout the Late Show.
5) After a long day at Malibu Beach shooting a segment where Dave and Paul go surfing, Dave walked all the way out to his car, he stopped and walked all the way back across the parking lot to thank me for all of my help.
4) The great remotes around LA: Dave & Paul surfing in Malibu, Rupert G. with Dave on walkie-talkie, Zsa Zsa Gabor eating fast food, and the BEST, ordering 1200 tacos from Taco Bell so Dave could drive around LA and throw them on people’s lawns like the morning newspaper.
3) After the NY show was wrapped and the crew had gone home for the day, I walked out onto the stage of the Ed Sullivan Theater. With camcorder in hand, I introduced the Beatles in my best Ed Sullivan impression.
2) The day of my 40th birthday was the day the Late Show arrived in LA for rehearsal. I was called up to Dave’s dressing room for some bogus task. Then I was summoned back to the studio. As I walked onto the stage, the lights went out, the crew rolled out a giant birthday cake with 40 candles and Paul Schaffer and the Late Show Band sang “Happy birthday” to me! My presents? A Late Show Letterman Jacket and a Seinfeld script signed by Late Show guest Jerry Seinfeld…never will forget my 40th!
1) About an hour before an LA show, I got a called from Late Show Producer Robert “Morty” Morton. He told me VERY CONFIDENTIALLY that Johnny Carson was going to be that night’s surprise guest. This was HUGE for CBS and Letterman. This was Johnny’s first appearance on TV since his retirement and he choose to make it on CBS not NBC. The only people who knew he was coming were Dave, Morty, me and I then informed our head of security. The audience was already lined up right past the door that Johnny was arriving at. I had to move, without any true reason, the entire audience over to the other side of the building. Then Johnny pulled up, I opened his door, shook his hand and escorted him into the building, up the back stairway and into his dressing room. WOW, late night royalty!

In the Beginning… the Church and HollywoodFebruary 9th, 2017 by 

Early HollywoodWithin the Christian community we acknowledge and oftentimes grumble about the disconnect between the church and Hollywood. We talk about building a bridge to secular media – and for the past 30 years, this has certainly been the primary mission of Mastermedia International. But in truth we are RE-building a bridge back to Hollywood. In film’s seminal years, when the motion picture industry was a mere celluloid infant, the church was considered the movie world’s determining audience. And initially a good percentage of Christians saw film as a remarkable opportunity to express Christian stories and values to a wider, national audience

The film industry got its start in the late 1800’s on the east coast, establishing the first motion picture studio in West Orange, New Jersey. But by 1910, with director D.W. Griffith leading the way, film production began under the sunny skies of So. California in the little village of Hollywood… an industry and culture was launched!

During these turn of the century days of film, the Christian worldview and the Biblical story was deeply ingrained in Western Culture. In fact, in the first century of film making, in addition to the countless Biblical epics, over 100 films were made solely focused on the life of Christ… that’s more than 1 per year.

It was sometimes said that Jewish moguls, hired Catholic Directors to make movies for the Protestant Audience. This wasn’t entirely true (Cecil B DeMille was an Episcopal lay minister), but the point was made that people of faith were well represented in the highest echelons of the studio system.

1927 brought the advent of the “talky” and on into the 30’s film transitioned from the silent era into this new audio phenomenon. In large part, the Christian audience followed along, remaining the focused audience of the studios. But as the 30’s brought an increase in provocative subject matter on-screen and sex and drug scandals off-screen, church leaders grew concerned of the dangers of worldly cinematic amusements. In light of this moral descent of film, the Church shifted their focus from embracing and producing movies to censoring, critiquing and policing them. The film industry established the Hays Commission, led by its namesake Will Hays, a Presbyterian elder. The Catholic hierarchy began the Legion of Decency.

As World War II ended, the mid-40’s brought a change in the cultural wind. As American soldiers returned home from Europe and the Pacific, and foreign films entered the US marketplace, new ideologies began to take root. Seeds of secularism were planted, often times blooming on the screens of local theaters.

Our response? Some panicked! Some pulled out! Some stopped going to the movies – “what business does a Christian have being in a dark theater?” And perhaps the most detrimental outgrowth of our response, a generation of talented young Christian creatives were discouraged by many, condemned by some, from entering the media business. As the church relinquished the task of providing or supporting positive, life-affirming films, the secular film culture filled the void!

The Good News? Christian filmmakers, media ministries (such as Mastermedia) and the Christian audience is returning… and in an impactful way. Faith-filled films are being produced in record numbers, some being embraced by mainstream audiences and strong box office receipts.

Through it all, our hope and prayer is to play our role in re-building that bridge back to the most important, influential, cultural defining mission field and people group on the planet!



Chapter: “Silent Cinema and Religion” by Terry Lindvall

The Routledge Companion to Religion and Film, edited by John Lyden, published by Routledge, 2011


“This Is Our Shirley Temple!”February 9th, 2017 by 

Last summer my wife and I had a wonderful opportunity to visit China, a country rich in artistic expressions and inspiring theatrical, musical and cinematic presentations of their cultural stories. Our trip began in Beijing at the Chinese Film Museum, a treasure of China’s rich cinematic history.

We came to a long row of statues representing China’s most famous actors and actresses. Encased in glass, each statue wore the original costume of the film star’s most iconic role. At the statue of a young actress, our tour guide proudly proclaimed, “This is our Shirley Temple.” Next to “Shirley” was a male figure which prompted our guide to say, “And this is our Humphrey Bogart.” Seeking legitimacy, our guide wanted to connect what China has been doing or is currently doing to its Hollywood counterpart.

As we continued our guide, a passionate young man with a master’s degree in Chinese Operatic Films (How’s that for a genre?), began to ask about how to “make it” in Hollywood. Like many aspiring American film makers, he believed that the only true film career was one centered in Hollywood. To quote Frank Sinatra’s theme song, “. . . if I can make it there, I’ll make it anywhere.”

Later, I was at a crowded mall in Xian, sporting my L.A. Dodgers baseball cap. A young man rushed up to me and said, “Hello, my name is Richard. I want to go to USC film school, but I need a sponsor. Will you sponsor me?” He assumed that I, being from L.A. must be connected to the film industry.

We all know about the robust Chinese box office and recognize the popularity of American films in China. But I didn’t realize how deeply the Chinese want to emulate Hollywood. A global generation is emerging that sees Hollywood as the gold standard, the epitome of movie excellence.

Our final stop was the largest film production studio in the world—Hengdian World Studios in Dongyang (“Chinawood”). In addition to film production, the studio is filled with tourists enjoying attractions offered throughout the massive grounds. As an American in the midst of a film studio, once again my association with Hollywood was assumed. It was embarrassing—people followed us around, and a few waited in line to take a picture with us.

I will forever be impacted by the extraordinary lens through which the Chinese people view Hollywood. I have a fresh understanding of how deeply American films connect with the Chinese audience, affecting their culture, inspiring their dreams, and shaping their beliefs as they adopt the values emanating from these films—films that are creating a whole new generation of filmmakers who aspire to “make it in Hollywood.”

If I wasn’t sure before, I am convinced now that America’s most influential export is American films . . . and that the influence organization’s like Mastermedia International has in Hollywood can have significant impact throughout the world.

The 4 HollywoodsJuly 4th, 2016 by 

Global MediaOver the past decade, the world has witnessed a seismic cultural shift … the digital revolution.   And no business was affected more than the media industry.

As digital platforms exploded onto the scene, the world became an interactive “screened” culture – populated, in part, by a generation with a film studio in their pocket and a global megaphone gifted to them courtesy of the Internet. This democratization of the media has created countless messengers and storytellers and has transformed Hollywood from a geographical location to a global concept.

“Those who tell the stories rule society.” – Plato

Today’s media influencers are not only found behind conference tables in boardrooms, but also behind laptops in Starbucks and sitting with fingers crossed at international film festivals.

In response to this digital shift, Traditional Hollywood has given birth to what I call, Indie Hollywood (film festivals, privately funded productions), Digital Hollywood (You Tube channels, gaming, bloggers), and Global Hollywood (represented by China periodically surpassing the U.S. box office).

As “Hollywood” expands onto an omnipresent global stage, each of these conceptual Hollywood’s spawn countless new media voices.   This sudden influx of cinematic creatives opens up an unprecedented opportunity to relationally invest in these newfound power brokers and to thoughtfully engage in today’s cultural conversation.

As a Christian, how do I connect with them?  The answer lies in the manner in which Jesus engaged with the two men walking on the road to Emmaus:

While they were talking and discussing together,

Jesus himself drew near and went with them. Luke 24:15

These two men are walking along, deep in conversation, trying to make sense of the events of the day. Jesus joins them on their seven-mile hike and asks them a simple question, “What are you talking about?” Entering into their dialogue, Jesus brings clarity to their confusion and answers to their questions.

They said to each other, “Did not our hearts burn

within us while he talked to us on the road,

while he opened to us the Scriptures?”  Luke 24:32

In this digital world of interactivity, today’s generation is often asking the right questions and welcomes thoughtful conversation.  Let our response be one of  joining these new “Hollywood” communities on their journey. Then in a spirit of humility and respect, seek to engage in thoughtful, caring dialogue.

The Media Land of Opportunity!July 4th, 2016 by 

hollywoodsign1A few weeks back I was speaking to 25 Christian university film students during their visit to Hollywood. One young man asked me the all too familiar question, “How do I get into the business?” My standard answer, as recently as a dozen years ago, was get yourself to Hollywood or New York, build as many relationships as you can, then begin the arduous task of knocking on the doors of the 5 or 6 studios, the 4 TV networks, and visit as many of the production companies as will let you into their lobbies. All part of making the rounds to the Hollywood powerbrokers – the men and women who create and control what the world will and won’t see on our screens. And if there weren’t any openings, you had few alternatives. They were the only game in town!

Still a good strategy. These traditional media companies continue to yield a powerful sword of influence. But no longer are they the only game in town… not by a long shot!

 The digital explosion has flung the doors of opportunity wide open. With the flood of new digital platforms, independent film festivals increasingly dotting the map and international audiences racing to the box office, the possibilities are limitless for the next talented Spielberg “wannabe.”

Supply and Demand!

What created all of these new opportunities? Innumerable channels, websites, streaming companies, digital platforms and expanded global audiences; sparked an insatiable demand for content to fill the world’s screens in our new “screen dependent” culture.

According to an Internet Analyst at Morgan Stanley, in 2015 Americans spent 7 hrs. 44 minutes a day gazing into a screen. Assuming you sleep for 6.8 hours a night (the national average), almost ½ (43%) of our waking life – we are engaged in the virtual world and disengaged (at least partially) from the real world.

Today the influence of this expanded media landscape has soared to an all time high. To apply a digital age paraphrase to Plato’s statement regarding the influence of storytellers – “Whoever controls the screens, controls culture!”

Greater opportunity, limitless possibility and increased importance reveal a crucial need! Today’s wild, media frontier often finds itself stumbling in the dark, trying to make sense of a fallen world, as they search for answers to the big questions in life… answers that can only be found in the WAY, the TRUTH and the LIFE.

End of Wonderment in the Information AgeDecember 16th, 2015 by 

WonderGrowing up in the shadows of Disneyland, throughout my childhood I visited the Magic Kingdom two or three times every year. The absolute wonder engendered by my first visits, filled my imagination for months afterwards. My amazement faded over time as the magic became familiar and predictable. Twenty some years later, I became a father. As I anxiously took my own kids through those colorful gates and raced towards “Pirates of the Caribbean” the excitement of my own childhood returned. Seeing Disneyland afresh through my kids’ eyes, suddenly I was reminded of the wonder that captivated me as a child. I even welcomed with gladness that insidious, repetitive song of “It’s a Small World…afterall!” As the boat turned the corner into each new land, the charm of the tune crept back into my head, resulting in my unbridled, at-the-top-of-my-lungs, vocal stylings.

Another twenty some years later, I returned once again with my grandkids. A whole new generation of wonder was launched. Wonder is a precious gift from the God of all creativity.

But in this age of information, where the answer to every question we ponder is just a click away, is wonder doomed to extinction? After all if I wonder when in a mosquitos head-first flight towards his feast, does he turn his body to land his rear-end stinger deep into my arm? Google’s answer is displayed immediately on my omnipresent smart phone. If I wonder who was the first person to think it was a good idea to drink whatever came out of a cow’s utter? Wikipedia doesn’t leave time for the milk to sour, before I know that it was the Central Europeans approximately 7,500 years ago (although I believe that the Bible would suggest that the “land of milk and honey” knew about milk much earlier).

The kick off question that sparks the story of most writers is “What if…?” That question is interchangeable with “I wonder what would happen if…?” Wonder ignites imagination, which finds its expression in creativity. We must pause every now and then to look to creation with wonder. Wonder about the answers to the big questions in life. Let’s never loose the WONDERment of our childhood.

The heavens declare the glory of God,and the sky above proclaims his handiwork. (Psalms 19:1)

Looking for God in Faith-Based FilmsJune 3rd, 2015 by 


When one thinks of faith-based films, more often than not, we think of one of two types of films: Biblical films or evangelistic films. The history of Biblical films is relatively long, the spectrum wide and the challenges of successfully presenting this profound, rich, well-known story are many.

Biblical Films had their beginnings with short films in 1897s, only one year after the advent of film. Films such as France’s Lear’s Passion (1897) and America’s The Horitz Passion Play (1897), were the forerunners to one of the first feature-length Jesus films, the silent 1912 film From the Manger to the Cross. From those early days, the genre quickly splintered into many different expressions of Biblical stories or Christian faith, with the best well known being the Cecil B. DeMille Biblical epics (10 Commandments -1923, King of Kings -1927) and the more recent Jesus of Nazareth (1977) and The Passion of the Christ (2004).

Evangelistic films, often highly didactic with explicit Gospel messaging, have their origin in churches, Christian organizations and/or Christian filmmakers. Beginning with the silent Passion films, to Rev. James Friedrich’s The Great Commandment (1939) to 1972’s Thief in the Night and the most viewed film of all time The Jesus Film (1979), through to the Kendrick Brothers films such as Fireproof (2008) or Courageous (2011); Christians have long used film to share their faith. These overtly Christian films benefit the Body of Christ, by supporting Christian’s beliefs and providing an opportunity for believers to invite their unchurched friends to hear the Gospel presented in a “neutral” environment. However, often the offerings of many evangelistic films are narrow, with little theological depth; proving to be quite anemic as a cultural change-agent.

The question arises, are these films merely evangelistic vehicles or religious art? Michael Bird wrote in the Cambridge Journals, “Within the discussion of religious art there arises the fascinating question of how art can engender the awareness of those special, hierophanous moments in culture where the sacred dimension breaks through into an otherwise profane experience. How does the artist render visible that which is inherently invisible?” In the Book of Matthew, Jesus rebukes the “sign-seeking” hypocritical leaders by saying, “You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs of the times” (Matthew 16.1-3). Jesus’ criticism stems from their seeking heavenly signs merely from the obvious visible sights. If they truly desired a fuller revelation from the Spirit of God, they should seek a glimpse into the spiritual realm. How often do we in the Christian community want things laid out for us very clearly, looking for understanding solely from the tangible, earthly plain?

I have experienced numerous “aha” moments of spiritual insight while engaged in a compelling cinematic story. In my experience the most powerful theological understanding in film comes, not from the obvious “religious-centric” sources, but from different, unexpected, frequently non-Christian film moments. My friend Dr. Craig Detweiler writes, “General revelation is a term created by theologians to describe the experience of God available to all people. Such revelations may arrive as a word, a thought, a vision, a touch, or a feeling. These divine breakthroughs wake us, surprise us, reassure us that we are not alone. The power of general revelation often resides in God’s ability to sneak up on us, to speak through unlikely people or unexpected situations.”


Looking for God in Faith-Based FilmsMay 13th, 2015 by 




FOX News declared 2014 the year of the Christian film. But what is a Christian film? Is a Biblical film always a Christian film? What does the term faith-based film mean? Are faith-based films synonymous with family films? Can God speak to us through a secular, “non-Christian” film? Over the next weeks I will explore all of these issues as I set out “Looking for God in faith-based films.”  But first let’s go back a bit and lay some ground work.

Now while Paul was waiting for them at Athens, his spirit was provoked within him as he saw that the city was full of idols. So he reasoned in the synagogue with the Jews and the devout persons, and in the marketplace every day with those who happened to be there.  (Acts 17.16-7)

As the Apostle Paul arrives in the City of Athens, he looks for the center of the cultural conversation. The Jews and devout, “God fearing” people are meeting in a religious forum within the synagogue. But those who didn’t embrace theism, as well as the shapers of the ideology of the day, were gathered in the Athenian Starbucks of yesteryear, the marketplace. Here Paul places himself in the midst of public discourse, first listening, then reasoning from a position of his Christian faith. Looking for a link between their cultural beliefs and his Christian beliefs, Paul finds it in the line of statutes to their numerous gods. Paul used their story of a statute to an unknown god as the foundation of God’s story. Where are today’s culture’s stories being told?

Plato once said, “Those who tell the stories rule society.” The most powerful and influential forum for expressing our viewpoints are the stories told through medias such as film, television and digital media. Hollywood’s influence on our culture can hardly be overestimated, the movie industry’s products, for better or worse, influence the way people perceive the world and their place in it. The stories contained in cinema capture our imaginations, inspire and encourage us, help us deal with our fears in an unthreatening way, show us how to laugh at our human fragilities and insecurities. We emphasize with stories, because stories humanize a truth.

How did Jesus give us truths of the Kingdom of God or convey important theological truth? “All these things Jesus said to the crowds in parables; indeed, he said nothing to them without a parable” (Matthew 13.34). A parable is an earthly story that relates a spiritual truth. Just as Jesus enter mankind’s world physically – “became flesh and dwelled among us” – Jesus also entered our world contextually. Jesus would set up a world and invite us in to experience His truth. Professor Rob Johnston writes, “Parables provide stories drawn from everyday life that capture the attention of their viewers/hearers by focusing on what is not usually seen, teasing their recipients into an active engagement with them through their open-endedness. In this way, Jesus’ parables caused those present to see life in a new way. So, too, do movies.”



A Great Comedy Influence: Stan FrebergApril 8th, 2015 by 

Stan FrebergOne of my greatest comedy influences and certainly the primary inspiration for the comedy style of my comedy team Isaac Air Freight was Stan Freberg. I first began listening to his records when I was about 10 years old. Soon I had every sketch, every record memorized. Freberg’s most popular sketch was his 1953 Dragnet parody, St. George and the Dragonet. Freberg’s irreverent take on the series produced the fastest-selling single in history — more than 1 million copies in three weeks and earned its mastermind a gold record.  Later his sketch became the template for the Isaac Air Freight sketch Jerusalem Dragnet.  Freberg was also the voice of Cecil the Seasick Sea Serpent on the Beany and Cecil Show…which I watched daily as a kid.

Freberg’s satiric vision made him an idol to fans as diverse as the Beatles, Anthony Hopkins, Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks.  Barry Hansen, the radio host and musicologist known as Dr. Demento (who our comedy team performed with in our early days), said that Freberg’s spoofs “were the true forerunners of the satirical style of National Lampoon and ‘Saturday Night Live.'”

In 1988, I had the pleasure of having Stan Freberg as a guest on the radio show I hosted with my life-long friend, Bob Bennett. He was a great guest and wonderful Christian man.  Stan Freberg passed away on Tuesday April 6th at the age of 88.

God bless Stan Freberg.

CREATIVITY – 18 Lessons from the Creative Culture at PixarNovember 15th, 2014 by 

creativity-inc-pixar-catmull1A new book from Ed Catmull, co-founder of Pixar, Creativity, Inc.: Overcoming the Unseen Forces That Stand in the Way of True Inspiration is fascinating in its portrayal of Pixar’s history of successes and failures, and insightful in its boiling down of Pixar experience into transferable principles.

From the book, here are 18 lessons we can learn from the culture of Pixar:

  1. Give a good idea to a mediocre team, and they will screw it up. Give a mediocre idea to a great team, and they will either fix it or come up with something better. If you get the team right, chances are that they’ll get the ideas right.
  2. Always try to hire people who are smarter than you. Always take a chance on better, even if it seems like a potential threat.
  3. If there are people in your organization who feel they are not free to suggest ideas, you lose. Do not discount ideas from unexpected sources. Inspiration can, and does, come from anywhere.
  4. There are many valid reasons why people aren’t candid with one another in a work environment. Your job is to search for those reasons and then address them.
  5. If there is fear in an organization, there is a reason for it—our job is (a) to find what’s causing it, (b) to understand it, and (c) to try to root it out.
  6. If there is more truth in the hallways than in meetings, you have a problem.
  7. Many managers feel that if they are not notified about problems before others are or if they are surprised in a meeting, then that is a sign of disrespect. Get over it.
  8. Careful “messaging” to downplay problems makes you appear to be lying, deluded, ignorant, or uncaring. Sharing problems is an act of inclusion that makes employees feel invested in the larger enterprise.
  9. Do not fall for the illusion that by preventing errors, you won’t have errors to fix. The truth is, the cost of preventing errors is often far greater than the cost of fixing them.
  10. It is not the manager’s job to prevent risks. It is the manager’s job to make it safe to take them.
  11. Failure isn’t a necessary evil. In fact, it isn’t evil at all. It is a necessary consequence of doing something new.
  12. Trust doesn’t mean that you trust that someone won’t screw up—it means you trust them even when they do screw up.
  13. Don’t wait for things to be perfect before you share them with others. Show early and show often. It’ll be pretty when we get there, but it won’t be pretty along the way. And that’s as it should be.
  14. A company’s communication structure should not mirror its organizational structure. Everybody should be able to talk to anybody.
  15. Our job as managers in creative environments is to protect new ideas from those who don’t understand that in order for greatness to emerge, there must be phases of not-so-greatness. Protect the future, not the past.
  16. New crises are not always lamentable—they test and demonstrate a company’s values. The process of problem-solving often bonds people together and keeps the culture in the present.
  17. Excellence, quality, and good should be earned words, attributed by others to us, not proclaimed by us about ourselves.
  18. Don’t confuse the process with the goal. Working on our processes to make them better, easier, and more efficient is an indispensable activity and something we should continually work on—but it is not the goal. Making the product great is the goal.



50th Anniversary of A Hard Day’s NightAugust 26th, 2014 by 

HardDaysNightMonoShrinkWrapLP664aThis summer marks the 50th Anniversary of the release of A Hard Day’s Night, the first film with the Beatles.  From the first time I saw it as a kid, it has remained one of my favorite films.  It’s also perhaps the film I’ve watched the most times, as well as had the biggest impact upon my childhood.  Produced at the dawn of Beatlemania, A Hard Day’s Night had a profound effect upon the film world, as well as the culture in general.  Up until this time (1964) rock-n-roll movies consisted of either studio lip-syncing by various one hit wonders strung together with a crazy host introducing the next act.  Or, as in the case of all of the Elvis’ movies, producers would give the singer, an occupation and a simple situation that would justify the performance of their latest songs.  Hard Day’s Night comes along and changed the formula completely.  Screenwriter Alun Owen, prior to putting pen to paper, spent ample time with the Fab Four, discovering their personas, idioms and their world of sudden, unprecedented stardom.  The movie, shot in black and white, comes about as close to a documentary as a scripted piece has ever come before or since.

Up until this film, the world had only known the Beatles by their recordings and TV performances.  Now being cast as themselves, with carefully constructed dialog, peppered with improvisation and actual quotes, the world was able to discover who were these lads from Liverpool.  The production was ground breaking also.  Handheld cameras and many actual locations added to the realism of the film.  The quick cut editing and inventive camera placement set the template for music videos to be later enjoyed by the MTV generation.

When John Lennon is asked in the movie, “How did you find America?” his reply (echoing what he said at a press conference upon arrival at JFK Airport), was “Turned left at Greenland.”  This quip solidified a change that had been brewing in comedy.  Pioneered primarily by British comedians such as The Goons (directed by Hard Day’s Night director Richard Lester), Peter Sellers, Peter Cook and Dudley Moore, there was a playful rebellion in the humor of Hard Day’s Night.  The Beatles acknowledged an “us vs. them” generation gap, but it wasn’t a hostile divide like audiences found in James Dean’s Rebel Without A Cause or the standup of Lenny Bruce.  Their cordial playfulness made a statement that we all are pretty silly, but each generation merely possesses a different flavor of silly.   Throughout the film, the Beatles show that even though the world was going crazy around them, they could maintain their sanity and sense of humor.


7 Lenses for the Christian ComedianJune 18th, 2014 by 


CCA Keynote 17 Lenses for the Christian Comedian

By: Dan Rupple

1) What is Christian Comedy?

This is a question that, no matter how many times you define it, it continually comes up.  Personally, my definition is always changing, so it might be a good thing that it remains fluid.

So often we get stuck when we try to define Christian comedy in terms of how many times we say “Jesus”?  How clean we work?  Where we perform?

Or how explicitly we present Christian Content?

From my perspective:

A Christian Comedian is someone who works in the craft of comedy

and is walking in relationship with God.

Why do I say that?

Great comedy is always based in the truth of human experience,

if not, it won’t connect with the audience.

And that truth usually struggles with what it means to be human. 

As a Christian we have a unique perspective on that truth.

God’s presence is in our lives, shapes our values, our behavior, our character, our worldview, our purpose and our motivation of why we do what we do.

And the closer we walk with Christ, Christian truth, either explicitly or implicitly, permeates all we say or do, and that’s what marks us as a Christian Comedian.

2) Comedy Matters

In the book of Exodus, God is calling the Children of Israel to build the tabernacle. And He tells Moses to gather the carpenters, the stoneworkers/masonry and the skilled craftsmen… the artists.

Because if something is going to represent the presence of God,

it needs to be a great work of art.

God places a high call on the Artist. And comedy is amongst the most important callings. Drama will oftentimes look at man’s strengths and helps us dream about what we can be. But comedy operates secure in the knowledge of man’s imperfections: our insecurity, awkwardness, cowardness, uncertainty, pride, jealousy, fear – all the core attributes of comedy.

Comedy helps us live with who we are.

Jesus said, “We will know the truth and the truth will set you free.”

Comedy is the art of telling the truth about what it’s like to be human.

And we get to do it from a perspective of the Creator Himself.

3) Put in the Work

Great sports legends: Michael Jordan, Wayne Gretsky, Peyton Manning, Greg Maddox, Tony Gwynn… there is a reason they are iconic legends.  It’s not ONLY because of exceptional skills. But they practice the most, work the hardest.

They are the first ones to arrive and the last ones to leave.

To excel in comedy, we must have the same dedication to our craft.

A comedian must have an audience.  It’s probably the only art form that can’t be done alone. Perform wherever they will give you a stage.

Write as often as you can.

Study the greats.

Attend conferences or seminars.

Remain a student. Don’t just think you can rely on talent alone,

There is always someone who is just as talented; who works harder that will pass you by.

4) Build a Life Beyond Comedy

Living in So Cal, I’ve seen so many actors, musicians, comedian who put their whole life and their whole identity into their careers.

Sadly, they are devastated by their first rejection.

In this business you’ll receive a NO, infinitely more times than a YES.

If your life is broader than the narrow label of comedian…

if you’ve built a rich family life, social life, church life, recreational life…

it is easier to weather the inevitable rejection or a bad night.

And, the richer you are as a person, the richer your comedy is.

5) Understand And Accept The Scope Of God’s Call On Your Life As A Comedian.

God had set Moses apart as the leader of the Children of Israel.

The people challenged Moses – “Who do you think you are?

Who put you in charge? I didn’t vote for you.”

“It is God who places people in the Body of Christ according to His will.”

Only Moses could be Moses.

Only Tim Hawkins is called to be Tim Hawkins.

Only Chonda is called to be Chonda.

Only Anita Renfroe is called to be Anita Renfroe.

But only YOU are called to be YOU.

Godliness with contentment is great gain.

6) Recognize The Difference Between Striving And Persistence

We live in a constant tension between:

Being diligent, working hard to build the career God has called you to,

raising awareness that we’re out there.

We didn’t get into this business nor will we survive if we’re the unknown,

anonymous comedian (unless you put a bag over your head).

But the other side of the coin is spending every last drop of energy on self-serving, self- seeking, self promotion.

Striving relentlessly to obtain the career you want for yourself.

Endlessly trying to kick down a door that you’ve knocked on 500 times before

that God never intended to open for you anyway.

I don’t know exactly where this very grey line is,

but I do know when I’m striving for something God doesn’t have for me.

And when I’m walking in God’s favor

and I just need to persevere through obstacles that are in my way.

Now, living in the INFORMATION AGE of Social Media, it’s further complicated,

because you can build, shape and market a career, than has no basis in reality.

But a warning: If we are all about marketing and there is no substance there,

eventually people will find there’s no there there.

You’ll get a reputation real quick as a hack or phony.

Let the excellence of your craft and the heart of a servant build your reputation.

 7) What Makes A Great Comedian? 

Jesus continually said, “You have heard it said, but I said….”

And the crowds said, “Never has a man spoken like this.”

They marveled at his words and deeds.

A BAD or hack comic is somebody whose tired, obvious material is aimed at totally exhausted targets without any kind of tweak or fresh angle on it.

A great comedian offers a totally relatable, but never thought of from that inventive, creative, funny, unique view of the world.

And because we know the God who sees things in a completely different and compelling way than mankind does, the Christian comedian should be amongst the best of the comedians.

We have been given a gift: A Comedy Mind.

You are wired by God to see life through a comedic lens.

And it’s our job and calling to use comedy to testify to God’s truth.


Total AccessApril 12th, 2014 by 

Total Access God


Have you ever had a backstage pass to a high profile event?  That color-coded pass is exclusive permission to mingle with the behind the scenes insiders, the movers and shakers, the power brokers, maybe even the celebrity voices of the event.   But even with this right of entry, eventually you will most likely come to a closed door, manned by a refrigerator of a man in a blue and yellow windbreaker.  He tells you in an authoritative voice, “Beyond this point you need a yellow pass, bucko.”  It’s with dismay that you are look down upon your once revered pass to reveal that it’s a disappointing blue.  “The yellow pass gives you TOTAL ACCESS,” the guard informs you.  Broken-heartedly you make your way back to the crew craft table of Cheez-Its and M&Ms.

During my time at CBS, I had the opportunity to supervise many high visibility broadcasts – The Price is Right, Letterman, The Prime Time Emmys.  My position not only afforded me total access, but I literally held the keys to the studio.  I could go anywhere I pleased with complete authority.

The other day, at a Christian leaders’ meeting, a dear friend of mine posed a thought-provoking question: Is our presence enough?  Good question. In terms of impacting lives for the Kingdom or being about our assignment of making disciples of all men, is it enough to just show up?  Is it enough to be a silent witness?  Is our sheer presence enough to make a difference?

After a lot of contemplation and reflection, I’ve landed upon the belief that our presence isn’t enough, but God’s Presence through us is!

As I began my tenure at CBS, the first year or two, upon God’s direction I was a quiet (differing greatly from a silent) witness.  Daily I devoted myself to connecting with my co-laborers, building trust, demonstrating care and concern, and hopefully reflecting the integrity and values of a Christian man.  After this season, in short order God opened the doors to talk and sometimes pray with many of my now friends.  Sometimes the influence came by what I said, sometimes it was what I did, but I hoped I always reflected God’s heart.  And God’s Presence was always in abundance.

What made the difference?  As I journeyed to work each day, I would pray “missionally.”  I would ask God to govern over my words and actions.  I gave Him total access to whatever the day would bring.  And I believe that God shows up in direct proportion to the access we give him into our lives.  The more we are mindful of God’s presence around us, the more we yield to the leading of His Spirit, the more we ask God to use us to demonstrate His love to those He brings across our path, the more His Presence is revealed around us.

Don’t just show up.  See each day as an opportunity to be about the Father’s business.  Enter each day with intentionality.  And give Him TOTAL ACCESS.  My presence can do little, but His Presence can do all things.  It is His Presence that empowers me beyond the well-intentioned, kind-hearted humanitarian.

Is my presence enough?  NO.  Is His?  More than enough.


NOAH: To See or Not To SeeMarch 22nd, 2014 by 

NOahI’ve been approached by a number of people wondering if they should see the new film NOAH or not. The mere asking of the question tells me that the film is already meeting a bit of its purpose…to get people talking. Hopefully those outside of the church will find it as compelling and thought-provoking as those of us inside the church.  In addressing this question, I believe that first and foremost,  believers should follow their convictions before the Lord. If you feel that this film might be offensive or a compromised approach to the inherent Word of God, I would highly recommend that you avoid this film.

My hope is that this film would provide the Christian community a wonderful opportunity to engage in a cultural conversation about a Biblical account (possibly liberal take) that brings up issues such as the nature of God, judgement, sin and redemption. If family, friends or co-workers are talking about it, shouldn’t the people of God be part of that discussion?  Whatever approach you chose to take, I would strongly urge that any criticism be based upon informed (ie. actually seeing the film) opinions.

For those of you who are curious, skeptical or concerned about the film “Noah” might want to watch this film done by my friend Phil Cooke, capsulizing what many Christian leaders (who have actually seen the film) are saying.

NOAH: What Christian Leaders Are Saying




Are We Presenting Analog Church for Digital Sheep?February 10th, 2014 by 

CyberShepherd2Since the birth of digital media in 2005, I’ve had the pleasure of serving numerous church movements and ministry organizations in their various media aspirations.  In recent years, as I enter into consultations or speak at their conferences, I find myself talking increasingly less about the usage of technology and media and focusing far more upon understanding the way in which the digital audience engages and consumes media.  When we change our gaze away from the “how do” to the “why do” audiences connect with media in the manner in which they do, we are presented fascinating insights into the way contemporary culture wants to “do church.”

I am a Baby Boomer, part of the TV Generation, raised in front of the tube, my picture window to the world.  The way in which I engaged with the predominate media of my age was the appointment TV model.  At the scheduled time of 8pm on a Thursday night, I would hypnotically walk into my four-walled, living room, sit back on the barca lounger, and passively watch a one way, monologue being broadcasted into my home, by a singular entity, which in this case was a broadcast network.  At the conclusion of the program, thirty minutes later, I would compliantly ascend from my comfy chair and commence my departure from the familiar room.

Now, in large part, isn’t that how we do church?  We dutifully keep our prescheduled Sunday at 10am appointment at our local church building.  We expectantly enter the sanctuary, get settled in our favorite pew, then after an inspiring overture of worship, we passively (with the exception of an occasional “amen”) listen to a one-way monologue, which we call sermons, then politely walk out.

Today’s emerging, millennial generation is a digital generation.  How do they engage with the fast developing digital technology?  They are not bound to a stationary screen or pre-determined time.  They are, throughout their day, whenever and wherever they desire, actively interacting with a multi-sourced, global dialogue on a wide variety of mobile devices.

…meanwhile the church continues to offer a TV model, Analog Church to a Digital Generation!

Now, before you stop reading, I am not advocating throwing the current worship model out with the proverbial bath water.  I’m not preaching a gospel of “Instead of…” but the good news of “In addition to…” In future blogs, we’ll explore the chasm that lies between cyber space, digital connections and same space, human interaction.  And I’ll offer some ways in which the church can stand in the gap and, presumptuously, regain a bit of our relevancy.  My hope is that we will discover a number of things we can do to give place for “digital model” interactivity within today’s appointment church service, as well as deepen our understanding of why these shifts are crucial.

Let us hear your thoughts….