Are You a Missionary?

One of the major topics here at Media Missionary School is the purpose and role of Christians who work in mainstream entertainment in Hollywood. What type of project should I work on? How do I reach my co-workers? How do I survive in a difficult and sometimes hostile environment? These are the questions that Christians who earn a living in the entertainment business ask each day. But is it any different, for example, as anyone would face in the workplace? If you are a plumber, electrician, banker, or teacher, isn’t it the same situation?

I realize that Hollywood and the entertainment industry is unique in one sense because it is the world’s most influential mission field. The artists who made and produced Gone With the Wind in 1939 are no longer living. But their work continues and will influence generations to come. That’s what makes Hollywood so unique. But what it shares in common with every occupation is in one form or another its a mission field to those who work in it. We are to approach everything we do in life as a mission field. We are called to reach the world wherever we are planted by living a missional lifestyle. It’s no different in Hollywood as it is on Main Street. But most Christians have forgotten this concept. They see the mission field as something that happens in a far away country but not in their back yard. So how do you and I and those in Hollywood embrace a mission’s approach to the way we live our lives?

I see it as a five-step process.

1. You must earn the right to talk about Jesus. Why is it that we think we can save people by just preaching at them and telling them what is wrong with their lives? That doesn’t work in our culture. Step one requires us to realize it’s not our responsibility to save people. What we are required to do is to allow the Holy Spirit to control us. By doing this, God can work through us. It’s God who does the saving. How do you earn the right? You earn the right to speak into other people’s lives by loving and accepting people where they are and praying for them.

2. Be the person who you say you are. Whether you tell people you are a Christian or not, when you live and base your life on Christian principles you will be different. The people around you will see there is something unique about the way you handle yourself and your actions. In other words, you will demonstrate a spirit that is radically different than the world’s. It will be expressed in your talk, your actions, and your reactions. But, on the other hand, if your life is not consistent with what Jesus taught, how do you think people are perceiving you? Is that the kind of faith and beliefs people want to embrace. Probably not. You must be the person you say you are to establish credibility.

3. Put your faith in action. Faith without action means nothing. It’s a nice story but that’s all it is. As Christians, we are required to be the hands and feet of Christ. If you want to live missionally, that means you will have to go out of your way and inconvenience yourself to help people. That means effort and time. Sure people will take advantage of you, but Jesus said to turn the other cheek, love and forgive.

4. Develop relationships. You can’t make someone be your friend. All you can do is be available and open. But if you have followed the first three steps, chances are you have put yourself into a position of trust. It’s amazing how many stories I have heard about Christians who work in Hollywood who talk about how people seek them out and confide in them for help and advice. These people are living missionally. They have answers. And, trust me, people are hurting. And, if they see someone whose lives and relationships are working, they want to know why. Frankly, none of this is that complicated. What’s complicated is living it day by day.

5. Build friendships. If you have reached this point, friendships start to happen. All you need to do is cultivate and encourage the friendship to grow. Consider doing something together. If you are married, perhaps have your co-worker and his or her spouse over for dinner. God to a ball game, go on a hiking trip. The key is to spend some time together and just allow the friendship to grow. Now you are in a place where you have earned the right to talk about Jesus. Chances are people willing to hear what you have to say. After all, you have proven to be authentic and real about your faith. You are not some slogan on a $20 fake bill with a cheesy Gospel pitch for salvation.

Final thoughts.

If you want to change society, our culture or the world, all you have to so is to embrace a missions lifestyle approach to the way we view life. I guarantee you the change won’t be subtle. It will be radical. It’s what Jesus called us to do in the Great Commission. He gave us the keys to how we can change our world. The question remains—are we willing to apply them. The five steps to living a missional life is a great place to start if we are serious about embracing Jesus’ teachings.

Why are we not living missionally? I think there are three types of Christians that are having a difficult time applying the concepts of a missional lifestyle. The first type is what I call drive-by Christians. It seems that today Americans want their Christianity to be comfortable, safe and convenient. In other words, they don’t want to get out of the car. If they do, it means getting involved in the lives of other people, and that could get messy.

The second type are the non-culturally relevant Christians. I know that in some circles the term “culturally relevant” is almost a dirty word, but over the past few years we have created a subculture that is cut off from the mainstream culture. As a result, a lot of young people today do not know how to conduct themselves or how to have a conversation with nonbelievers. They have nothing in common nor do they understand the culture or the language of today’s media culture. If missionaries who plan on going to the foreign field will take two years to study the culture and the language of their people group, how can we expect to reach our culture if we don’t understand it ourselves. And if we live in a Christian subculture, how are we going to relate to people in the mainstream culture?

The third type is the on-the-fence Christians. They live life with one foot in the Body of Christ and the other one in the world. To live missionally means we have to be different and stand apart. That’s the only way we can show the contrast. Unfortunately, this third group of Christians are a little too close to the culture. If our lifestyles are no different than nonbelievers, why would nonbelievers want to be a Christian?

Christians who do embrace a missional lifestyle are a rare group. When you embrace the five steps, you allow yourself to be lead by the Holy Spirit. It is then that God can use you to draw people to Him. It becomes a matter of balance and properly ordering your life to fit into God’s plan. This five-step process will work anywhere, including Hollywood, the school you attend, your workplace or your family and friends because they are all a mission field.