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Faith-Based Films: Why They Matter and Why I Make Them

Dallas Jenkins - Filmmaker

COMMENTARY

The state of the so-called faith-based film world has never been more confusing. For one thing, the term faith-based has never been clearly defined.

What really is a faith-based film?

If you asked your friends that question on Facebook, you'd probably get at least five different definitions and no doubt tensions would rise.
 
Ultimately, it's a marketing term, designed to make it easier for the Christian audience to discern what movies may appeal to them. But even within that genre, there's debate — is it a faith-based film if there's no "salvation" scene? Many say 'no'. Others might say it's a faith-based film if there's anything at all about faith, even if it's Rated R. And in many cases, some only consider a film faith-based if it lines up with their theology (as evidenced by arguments about The Shack).
 
I consider myself a faith-based filmmaker. Here's what I mean. My films position Christian faith as a significant aspect in one or all of three factors: the main character's journey, the theme of the movie, or the setting.

Why do I make faith-based films? I make them because art and popular culture should accurately reflect life. Considering at least a quarter of Americans are Bible-believing Christians, it's safe to say that the media and entertainment industry do not genuinely reflect that reality.
 
You'll notice that my answer didn't include the phrase, "because I want my films to bring people to Christ." To be clear — it's not that I don't want salvations to happen. It has in fact happened on multiple occasions; and it's incredible and humbling every time it does.

But, I believe we make more of ourselves and less of Christ when we set out to make a film thinking, "I'm doing this to bring people to salvation" as opposed to "I'm doing this simply to be used by God however He wants to use it – for ALL audiences." Salvation is His work anyway.
 
My films aren't intended solely for Christians, but they're not solely for non-believers either. I want people at every step of the faith journey to be brought to the next step, whatever that may be.

That's why I made The Resurrection of Gavin Stone. Not only did Gavin Stone (a church outsider) grow in faith and learn more about grace, but the Christians in the movie did too.

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