God’s plans are always the best
The much anticipated session with Stephen Kendrick finally arrived at the Christian Worldview Filmmakers Guild on Tuesday evening! The room was filled with excitement as Stephen took the stage. Walking through the CWVFF Core Values, he shared anecdotes from the Kendrick productions War Room, Fireproof, Facing the Giants, and Flywheel. He started by pointing out that the film industry is the world’s most extensive and influential theological training system—regardless of whether the film is secular or spiritual.
1. Jesus Christ is preeminent
Stephen used Scripture to show the preeminence of Christ, Colossians 1 makes it particularly clear. If Jesus isn’t a part of our filmmaking, it won’t be able to change lives. He shared an anecdote from his time in Zimbabwe. The locals were pirating American movies for a fraction of the price. He noticed that Christian films, including his own, were among those being stolen. Stephen found it ironic that even though they were doing something illegal, the enemy is simply spreading the gospel through the movies.
2. Humility is not an option
Pride causes a multitude of other problems. “We tend to despise pride in other people, but tolerate it in ourselves.” Stephen said. “The devil is constantly calling us to pride.”
3. Your primary call is to be a disciple of Jesus
Stephen stated, “We’re not filmmakers, we’re disciples of Christ who happen to be filmmakers.” With the heart of a disciple of Christ, everything will change on a filmmaker’s set. Filmmaking needs to be a platform for making disciples. Stephen shared how a simple lunch with a crew member led to her making a life changing decision.
4. An authentic portrayal of the world is not Godless or Christless
“Let’s be more realistic than the world, because they pretend he doesn’t exist.” he continued, “We need to be making righteousness look awesome.” You can imply the evil in the world without showing it on the screen and still get the same effect. It takes more creativity to imply something without showing it than to just show it.
5. Filmmaking should not replace personal evangelism or discipleship
Your movies should not be the only representation that you’re a Christian. We shouldn’t hide behind our films to do our evangelism.
6. There’s only one epic story that changes the world
“The gospel is like a bomb, it doesn’t matter who uses it, it will make an impact.” Stephen also used the analogy of the contagion of a disease or the planting of seeds to illustrate the print the Gospel leaves on the world.
7. Esteem others as more important that yourself
The actors that are hard to work with are the ones who think more highly of themselves that they ought to. “The key to greatness is putting others first,” Stephen admonished. Jesus washed the disciples feet for us to follow His example.
8. Embrace critique
“You need to surround yourself with people who will tell you you stink.” We need to receive counsel and critique. “Yes-men” don’t help. Stephen continued, “You’re going to run into a lot of problems if you make the film for you.”
9. Honor Christ in the entire production, not just the final product
God will judge us by our motives, the means to how to carry it out, and then the end result. As Christians we are judged by our motives, our actions and our fruits. It’s easy to fall into the world’s mentality that the end justifies the means. “He [God] is going to give us better ways to act, direct, edit…” said Stephen.
10. A good story with good worldview can transcend a big budget
“Let me tell you something we have that the world doesn’t, goodness.” Stephen pointed out. “I won’t apologize for using media to communicate truth, when the world is using it to promote lies,” he stated firmly. If a story has good acting, good effects, but bad story, it won’t succeed. “Little is much when God is in it.”
The biggest takeaway from Stephen’s talk was reminding the audience that “The reason your heart is beating now.. is for Jesus.” His passion for the Lord was clearly evident as he encouraged his siblings in Christ to use their time, talents, and interests for the glory of God alone.