Forward Progress

It’s really all Seth Godin and Jon Acuff’s fault. I keep reading books and posts by Godin talking about “shipping” and I read Acuff’s Quitter book, and stopped thinking about how I was going to make it happen and started seeing the resources around me and engaging them. I came out of an intense week of prayer and fasting with a basic distribution model, but no idea. I talked with people. I had an amazing conversation with David Nixon of DNP Studios, which you may know from their involvement with Sherwood Pictures and the movie Letters To God. I talked about my distribution idea. I dreamed, I thought, I prayed, I paid attention.

Then about the ninth or twelfth idea I worked on started to stick. I kept coming back to it. I remember when it crystalized. I had just written about why Christians Don’t Believe in Comedy. And I got the chance to have a soda with Eric Bramlett, who produced the “Sunday” parody you can see in that post. He is part of the Exponential Conference we host every year. I had been waffling between some sort of comedy and/or reality TV show. The target audience was 18-34 year olds who use social media. The two most popular kinds of TV shows for this demographic are sitcoms and reality TV shows. I had even considered a stand-up-comedy/missions show. But after our conversation I was more convinced than ever that a sitcom from a biblical worldview was the way to go.

But I’m not script writer. I know a bit about single camera production, but I’m not director. But I can be creative, and I’m really good at logistics. And we have some great talent right here on the church staff. So I developed the idea a bit, and when I had a shell I went to see George Livings. We talked about the series and he gave me some advice. I went back to work. we’ve talked a few times since then, and now he has volunteered his writing partner and himself to help me make the pilot plot into a real script.

In the meantime I was talking with my boss, Jon Marks. I had been keeping him vaguely in the loop for months, but I finally just broached the subject of resources. I was concerned about exposure for the church, but we have a lot of resources that could be utilized in production with no additional cost and a lot of people who are interested in TV and movies in the congregation. Since Christians really don’t believe in comedy, and this show is geared toward non Christian people and will address issues that may make Christians uncomfortable, I didn’t know how closely tied the church would want to be. There will be some negative reaction. I won’t relate all of our conversation, but the gist was this; Art is risk. That doesn’t mean the church is going to partner with me. But we are engaged in conversation about it.

This week I finished the prep work on the plot outline, and registered the series idea with the Writers Guild of America (#1535064). I’ll write up a synopsis of what it is later. For now the next step is finishing the script. And then… I don’t know. Support needs to be raised, because even if I can create the shows for very little money advertising isn’t free. I need to build a “tribe” as Godin would say. Casting. rehearsal, production, post, delivery. The other 12 episodes in this season need to be plotted and written. I’ve started on episode two and have the general themes for the rest.

There’s a lot to be done. And this isn’t my job. This is my side project. But every step is forward motion.


Christians Don’t Believe in Comedy

I’ve come to the conclusion that Christians don’t believe in comedy. I think I’ve known this for a while, but it jumped out at me this past week.

It all started when the song “Friday”, by Rebecca Black, hit Youtube and stayed as a trending topic on Twitter for weeks. Here’s a taste. You don’t have to watch the whole thing, but look at enough to get the idea:

Good or bad, 92 million+ hits isn’t anything to sneeze at. It’s a fairly well produced independent video of a pretty poor song. For whatever reason this thing went viral, and has staying power, mostly from people making fun of it. It has inspired quite a few parodies.

I steadfastly refused to watch it until I heard about Community Christian Church’s parody. The talented crew created a parody that invites people to Easter services on “Sunday”:

I watched it, and laughed, and then went and watched the original and laughed more. They really nailed the feel of it. For a lot less money I’m sure. I know Eric Bramlett, the Creative Ministry Director there, from his work with the Exponential conference, which we host every year. I saw some of his twitter feed and read his blog, then listened to his Pop Culture Pulpit podcast on the subject.

After that I’m convinced that Christians don’t believe in comedy. If they did, a church having fun, making a funny video that happened to get a bit of circulation, wouldn’t be so odd that it confused people. The fact that so many people responded with viciousness and misunderstood the video shows that we really don’t do comedy. The church (Not Community Christian, Christendom, the organization that’s been built around the Body of Christ. That church.) does stupid things exactly like what these people thought this video was. Even the Christians on Godtube can’t just enjoy it. No, they fight about meaningless topics.

Christians don’t believe in comedy because we don’t do comedy. Oh, we do fund raising events with stand-up comedians. And funny skits in worship a couple times a year. But most churches don’t do comedy. We ignore it.

If anyone can name a live-action Christian movie that was actually intended to be a comedy I’ll send you $5. I’m serious. I cannot think of a single Christian film, aside from some animation, that was actually supposed to be classified as a comedy. I’ve seen some funny ones, but no actual comedies.

Why not?

God created the sense of humor. Why don’t we embrace it?

Well, for one, laughing doesn’t simulate the kind of emotional response people normally want in church. We want people to be serious, and engage in deep introspection, and be alert for the Spirit of God to move. Never mind that humor is one of the most effective ways to communicate difficult messages without offense. That’s not to say that you cannot offend with humor. It is very easy to mess up comedy.

And that may be the real reason we, the “Church” don’t believe in comedy. It’s hard. You have to know your audience, and be able to communicate something you find funny in a way that everyone else will find it funny too. It’s simpler to make people cry. When comedy goes wrong, it goes way wrong. It’s risky. It’s safer to stick with serious topics. No need in taking a chance on getting a nasty-gram in your email.

So, Christians don’t believe in comedy.

But we should. More churches should take chances and do comedy. You know why? God created it, and people like it. Check out an article on It lists the tops shows by age group. Count the number of comedies listed… In the age groups we are losing fastest from the church, there are reality shows and then there are comedies. No dramatic shows in the top 6 for those ages.

Now count the number of comedy TV shows Christian produce…

We need to do comedy. The few drama groups and video crews and stand up comedians who follow Christ and do comedy cannot carry this for us. We should stop ignoring a whole genre of art. Let’s actually believe in comedy.