Why Don't Christians Hold Conventions?
When I first felt called to enter the world of Christian entertainment ministry, it was primarily because of a gut feeling that good material was lacking in that field or genre. I wasn’t completely satisfied by Veggie Tales or Bibleman (not saying they are not good) and I felt frustrated that everything else was simple animated or water downed versions of Bible stories. Christian films were virtually non-existent then, at least in theaters and the few I did manage to catch on DVD didn’t seem like they were portraying real people. But overall, with possible exception of the worship music on Christian radio, there wasn’t a whole lot of material out there that excited my kids about Christianity, particularly as they moved into their teenage and young adult years. So, I decided to work with my family and create my own. I have to admit, I was very wrong about a lack of Christian material out there. As it turns out, there was a ton of Christian books, movies, and music out there. And it didn’t matter if you liked romance novels, comic books, heavy metal music or action/adventure movies, the Christians were there. It isn’t a lack of material problem, it’s actually more of a lack of distribution one.
Which in a way is pretty sad, I believe, because the church has the greatest distribution system in the world. They have churches. Everywhere. And these churches are full of hungry, talented people eager to express and grow in their faith. The problem is the church will hand out Bibles and they will sing contemporary worship music, but they don’t get involved in much else. And if you’re not Casting Crowns, Hillsong, or Michael W. Smith, you’re probably not getting played on Christian radio or booking shows at churches (ask Skillet or Stryper). Christian bookstores are closing left and right because they limit selection to mainly the big name authors/preachers and have failed to embrace the smorgasbord of Christian material out there. Try to find a Christian comic book in one or in a mainstream comic book store. Christian films are faring a little better, some do find distribution, but it is a struggle to get the really good independents into theaters. Why don’t churches show movies, sell books or music? That’s right, step a little outside of theology or leave something open to interpretation, you’re immediately banned. On a side note, check out Rossetti Productions, they got some really good stuff!
If we as Christians are going to influence and change the secular world for the better and bring people to Jesus Christ, we have to succeed in the world of entertainment. Jesus told stories. He knew the impact they could have on people. How can we reach the lost when we can’t even reach one another? I’ve been pleasantly surprised with how many non-Christians actually enjoy Christian entertainment.
So it got me thinking. Maybe it is time for Christianity to get a little experimental again and embrace the diversity in Christian entertainment. Not with our theology, but more with how we are reaching people. Why don’t Christian authors, artists, musicians and filmmakers hold conventions to share their ideas, meet their fans and discuss their faith? Anime, comics, sci-fi, horror, you name it, all hold conventions where there are panel discussions, cosplay, concerts and all kinds of cool stuff going on where they can celebrate their fandom. So let’s rent out a convention center and do the same!