In an era when commercial films are telling biblical stories, such as Les Miserables, Fury, The Giver, and even Life of Pi, some Christians ask, "Is Hollywood finally getting the message that faith-based and family-friendly films can indeed be popular?"
We are here to tell you that those types of films have been coming out of Hollywood for almost a century. But, ultimately, they don't change hearts or culture. The real answer to Christians having an impact in the entertainment industry, and the world, is to pray!
While these box-office dollars certainly speak to the Hollywood decision-makers, it is not money that moves the people who work here. It is worldview.
What they believe is more important than just making money. So as Christians, we have to understand that and know that we can't change the type of films and TV shows that people create. We have to pray for the hearts of the Hollywood creative professionals to change. Then their lives will change and the content that they create will change. And it's only up to God to change hearts! Our job is to pray for God to come into this place and to work through the Christians in Hollywood to change the hearts of all of us who are here creating culture.
In the U.S. and arguably worldwide, Washington D.C. is the seat of power. Likewise, Hollywood is the global seat of influence. But instead of rallying to pray, as many have done for our political leaders in Washington D.C., Christians often have rallied to rail against the leaders in Hollywood.
For years, the Hollywood Prayer Network has been challenging Christians around the world to pray for people in all areas of film, television, theater, music, internet, print and new media. Over 12,000 people have joined in this movement of prayer for the mainly un-evangelized "people group" in Hollywood. That is a far cry from the 2.6 million people who have joined the Presidential Prayer Team to pray for our government.
The church has poured prayers into missionaries in Africa who work in villages of up to a couple hundred people. But they haven't thought to pray for the producers of Mad Men or the actors in Breaking Bad, who create product that is viewed by over 20 million people every week! We send Christians into remote mission fields around the world and commit to pray for them and financially support them. But we try our hardest to keep people away from Hollywood, which is the world's most influential mission field.
The truth is that people in the arts and entertainment industries are becoming Christians, they are experiencing not just radical personal change, but a shift in their subject matter, and an increase in the quality of their work. We experience miracles all the time of Studio and TV Executives who become believers in Jesus and then stop writing exploitive material, or celebrities who are encouraged to go back to their church roots and recommit to the God of their childhood. God is moving in Hollywood!
The answer to the entertainment industry's problems of immorality, lack of ethics, violence, sex, bad language and inappropriate subject matter is not to boycott, or even to make more "faith-based" films. The answer is to pray. Our job is not to "convert" or "convince," but to invite God in to change lives.
Would you join the Hollywood Prayer Network and pray for the world's culture changers?
Karen Covell is the founding director of the Hollywood Prayer Network. Please visit hollywoodprayernetwork.org to join HPN.
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