I attended seminary in the Bible Belt and know first-hand that seminarians love to debate theology. Sometimes these are important conversations we have to further deepen our understanding of our infinite God. Sometimes these conversations are rather tedious and get caught up more on semantics than intention.
BY SPENCER T FOLMAR
Even outside of seminary halls, it is easy to see how divided Christians can become. We need to look no further than our church history filled with denominations, splits, wars, and schisms.
As a student of religion and matters of theology, I would certainly argue that a deep understanding of one’s faith and convictions matters, but after living outside the Bible Belt for sometime and growing up outside of the church, I see that our particular convictions should not be so supremely important to the point where the church can no longer work together.
Historically, when Christians have a mission, they are typically less divisive and more on-mission together. For example, when the early church was first persecuted, there was not time for theological divisions, as Christians were daily being martyred for their faith and used as torches for royal parties. Christians organized and came together when the Reformation was spreading across Europe and whole countries were purifying the faith.
Even in our backyard, after horrific events as recently as 9/11 we witnessed Christians rallying together against hatred and terrorism to unify and rush to churches and to service. These rare times, when Christians from different backgrounds, classes, and creeds unite, is when the body of Christ feels most visible.
As a Christian living in Hollywood, unity amongst brothers and sisters is something I get to enjoy (if I choose to) on a daily basis. Overall, I feel that Christ followers living a missional lifestyle in the entertainment industry realize that bringing light to stories and cinemas is sometimes an uphill battle. There are many post-Christendom trends on the coasts of America, but California can sometimes embody most of the skepticism about these weird “Jesus Lovers.”
It’s not that we haven’t earned time and time again the suspicion of non-believers with our obsession of trivialities and being known more often for what we hate than what we love, but regardless, there is a lot a lot of work to be done and we know it.
Christians I know in Hollywood are on a unified mission. There is much work to be done, and there are few laborers. I was struck by this singular mindset and mission when I attended my first Hollywood Prayer Network event for the Oscars Prayer Walk. I had visited Los Angeles a few times before actually moving here nearly three years ago, and I was familiar with this and other ministries, but finally this past winter I actually attended one of the events. I had no idea what to expect, but love the Academy Awards, love Jesus, and am slowly learning to love others better, so I attended the event.
Like most events (especially Christian), there is a lot of awkwardness in meeting new people – especially a mob of Jesus people. I’ve never done a prayer walk before. I had corresponded with the leader, Karen Covell, and I was so relieved to meet her and her husband Jim early on. I made small talk and recognized a few faces in the crowd, but then the time arrived to break up in groups and walk and pray or something like that. I walked around with Jim Covell and Shun Lee (Green House) and these two wise men just started us off. The night was amazing, I made great new friends I see regularly, and I have since become more and more active with this incredible ministry.
After reflecting on my first prayer walk in Hollywood with a group of mostly new friends, I came to realize that unlike my days in seminary, the churches I have been members of, or ministry jobs I have applied for, there was no prior discussion of theological convictions before praying with these new brothers. I didn’t know if they agreed or disagreed with me on baptism or spiritual gifts, if they were Predestinarian or Arminian, or really anything else besides simply we were all there for a greater purpose than ourselves in the name of Jesus. That’s really beautiful to me and was such a gift.
Honestly, I don’t consider that night to be exceptional, but it made me realize that many on-mission Christians in Hollywood don’t get caught up in the trivialities. In fact, sometimes I know that the person I am working or praying alongside has almost nothing in common with my belief besides repenting and believing in Jesus, but that’s really okay.
There is much work to do not only here in Hollywood but worldwide, as God’s creation waits in eager anticipation for Jesus’ return. Until that day, let’s pray together?
Director Spencer T. Folmar’s theatrical debut, “Generational Sins,” has spurred a national debate surrounding the interplay of faith and film. Folmar coined the term “Hard Faith” to describe this new genre of film, written for audiences who are hungry for hope in the midst of gritty real-life stories. Folmar’s films are now released under his Los Angeles production company Hard Faith Films, which is currently developing several projects that will reflect today’s multifaceted culture and audience.
Hollywood Prayer Network (HPN) is a nonprofit 501(c)3 organization led by entertainment industry Christians, seeking to impact our culture for Christ through prayer. We are committed to asking Christians everywhere to pray for the artists and professionals, projects and productions, and global impact of Hollywood: the world’s most influential mission field. With an attitude of love, it is our passion to mobilize people around the world to engage in culture, pray for the media, and help transform the spiritual climate of Hollywood. Whether you’re an industry professional who wants prayer and support or a Christian with a heart for prayer, we want to build the bridges, light the way, and bring hope and healing to an industry that dramatically shapes our world.