Liberty University basketball fans are cute. They are trying so hard, but they just don’t really know how to be fans. Probably my favorite moment was Jan 27, 2011, when Liberty played against UNC Asheville in Lynchburg. I will be the first to admit that it was an exciting game. It had all the suspense you could get for division 1 college basketball game; coming down to the final seconds of regulation and with Liberty prevailing in overtime. At the final buzzer, those cute little Liberty fans rushed the court to celebrate with the team. I stood up in the stands and shook my head like a disappointed father.
The reason for my disappointment was that Liberty was favored to win the game by more then 10 points, it shouldn’t have even been a game. UNCA had been struggling all year just to get their record back to .500, losing to teams like VMI and South Carolina Upstate (which I thought was a community college). Liberty has dominated all of the teams in the conference except for one and was favored to win this game by double digits. That is not an occasion to rush a court.
The proper time to celebrate with the players at half court is when you’ve beaten a team that is supposed to crush you. If you are a down and out team that always get bullied around by the big boys and then you take one of those big boys down on your home court, by all means, storm the court, dance with the cheerleaders, put players on your shoulders and cut down the nets, that is a reason for celebration. If you take down #1 Duke and you’ve never been ranked in the history of your program you are free to rush the court. If a team has beaten you 12 straight times and makes the NCAA tournament on a regular basis, please express your satisfaction on the hardwood. But, if you’re playing a mediocre group of guys that everyone says you should easily beat, and then you win in overtime…you should be glad for the win but your guys underachieved.
How in the world does this relate to Christian film? Many of us Christians rush the court for any Christian film out there. It doesn’t even matter what the film is, if it is labeled Christian, we rush it. Many times it doesn’t matter who made it, whether a secular Hollywood production company or a small group of 20 somethings from Ohio, we just seem to jump on board like it’s our obligation to support it. There is no research involved, its just label on the film that draws people in. “Oh, this says Christian, I can back that.” Being labeled Christian means absolutely nothing; it is the story behind the film that makes all the difference. Since 2007, I’ve been studying the stories behind the films and discovering where the ideas came from and what the process was to put that idea on film. I am going to share the things I’ve learned and put these films in context. My library consists of about 40 “Christian” films ranging from popular titles like Sherwood’s “Fireproof” to mostly undiscovered low budget, Marcello Thedford’s “Sunday School.”
I would like to create some dialog about Christian films so that the masses will not just jump onboard any film labeled “Christian.” I will try to give some insight into the process of making the film. I am also going to share what I’ve learned that makes a Christian film successful and how these films shape up. My main objective is to see people stop rushing the court for something mediocre. That doesn’t mean the film is the most visually appealing, or will be up for best actor or best score, but that it sets out to fulfill the Great Commission.
I’m just going to be honest about everything I learn and everything I see on screen. I’m not out to find enemies, but rather open dialog that will lead to furthering the industry. Christian film needs help finding its identity. I want to create more competition for the existing films and filmmakers. If we can find our identity and then push each other to get better, this ministry will take off just as Christian music has. God has given us the tools needed, so there are no more excuses. Let’s get to work and glorify God.