And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:18-20 (ESV)
The potential to reach the masses with an uplifting or inspiring message of truth is an exciting prospect for Christians involved in film production. It’s that potential that gets many out of bed in the morning.
All too often the noble goal of reaching the masses comes at the expense of directly discipling those closest to us. But Jesus did both! Without neglecting His reach to large audiences in need of the truth of the gospel, Jesus spent much of His energy and time training just a handful of people in their walk with God. They then trained others who trained others and so on. In doing so these disciples were said to have “turned the world upside down.” (Acts 17:6, NKJV)
Having received the teaching and instruction of others who have gone before us, we also have been commanded by Jesus to make disciples.
Here are 4 helpful tips to effectively disciple others on and off the film set:
• Intentionally target a few people to pour into.
As Jesus began His ministry, He preached to large crowds of people who had gathered to Him. He took advantage of the opportunity and preached the gospel of the kingdom of God for all to hear, but He didn’t miss the chance to give to a few what He could not give to the masses – His direct attention and instruction.
Jesus chose from the among the crowds twelve men who would travel with Him, eat with Him, learn from Him, and join Him in the work of His ministry. Together they would experience both the highlights and the struggles of His work in the proclamation of the gospel.
“…He went out to the mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God. And when it was day, He called His disciples to Himself and from them He chose twelve…” Luke 5:12-13 (NKJV)
From those twelve Jesus narrowed it further to just three who would get the closest view of His life and personal instruction.
Take time to prayerfully consider who you could pour into and disciple in the same way Jesus did.
• Spend time with them regularly.
Unlike our films, discipleship is not a single-sided conversation. It is not summed up in 90 minutes. Though a film can have a powerful impact to call the viewer to a deeper place of thought or inspiration, it is limited by its natural constraints. Regardless of budget, writing, quality of talent, and other common limiting factors, time is a universal constraint in a film. After the feature is over, it’s over. This cannot be the primary means of interaction with the world for a filmmaker. It’s just too limited.
An important part of discipleship, and one of its major strengths, is regular interaction. A dynamic relationship between the teacher and the disciple allows for things like Q&A, follow-up conversations, repetition, demonstration, and gracious correction.
This does require a commitment to be present and available. Jesus made time to be with His disciples, or rather He took them to be with Him in order to train them.
“Then He appointed twelve, that they might be with Him and that He might send them out to preach…” Mark 3:14 (NKJV, Emphasis added)
• Demonstrate Christlike character.
This goes without saying. We absolutely must practice what we preach. The message we preach via film does not compare to the example we set for others in everyday life. Intentionally determining to disciple someone and regularly spending time with them means they will see you at your best and at your worst. It is in these times ‘off camera’, so to speak, that we have the greatest potential to shine the light of Christ or, sadly, to reveal a life of compromise.
“Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ.” 1 Corinthians 11:1 (NKJV)
“If anyone says he abides in Him he also must walk just as He walked.” 1 John 1:14 (NKJV)
These moments of real life speak louder than anything that can be acted out or edited together on film. Your ability to effectively disciple someone has more to do with your own relationship with the Lord than how well a movie does at the box office.
Commit to living a set apart life in the power of the Holy Spirit as an example worthy to be followed by those you have in your care.
• Delegate tasks that foster growth.
Another advantage to spending time discipling others is the opportunity to guide them as they learn new things. Jesus selected a handful of men to disciple, spent time with them, and taught them. His teaching was with verbal instruction as well as through demonstration, but it did not end there. Jesus also gave tasks to His disciples that became moments to teach them what could not be fully understood without doing it themselves.
Jesus provided many opportunities for His disciples to learn by experience. To teach them not to trust their own resources, but in the Father, He sent them out to preach the gospel with no extra provisions (Matthew 10:7-10). He also taught them to serve others by having them wash each other’s feet (John 13:12-17) and serve food to the 5000 when they were hungry themselves. (Mark 6:30-42)
These are just a few examples.
It’s one thing to comprehend a concept that you have been taught. It’s another thing to embrace it through experience.
Be intentional to give those you are training tasks that stretch them, knowing that they will likely struggle. This will provide opportunities for conversations about how to grow in that area. It will also give you an opportunity to demonstrate grace and mercy toward them, which may be an even greater lesson for them to learn.
These 4 points are not a comprehensive list for evangelism or discipleship, but they will certainly get you started as you look for opportunities to speak the light of Christ into others.