Over the years I have had the tremendous privilege to work with numerous missions organizations, some professionally and some in ministry. And a fundamental challenge that I have noticed is that is very difficult to take the essence of what happens in the mission field and capture it on video. Sure, anyone can record a video on their smartphone of a missions trip, but it is a whole different story when it comes to capturing the heart and soul of God’s work in a foreign nation. Here are three defining elements that make the difference between homemade missions videos and life changing missions movies.
1) Telling a Story is more than Editing Video Clips
Powerful missions movies are not single take video clips uploaded online. They are a strategic and artistic expression of storytelling. These are some of the most amazing True Story Movies out there. You see, it is not good enough to just let the camera run and hope to capture the essence of the event from a single flat two dimensional angle.
Life is happening in all three dimensions using all five senses on the mission field, especially when God is changing lives, villages, and nations. You simply cannot express that in video without making use of creative camera work, editing, audio, narration, music, and most importantly vision for the story. This is not a matter of just telling the story, powerful missions movies express every element of it down to the core.
2) Missions Movies are more than Just Entertainment
A traditional Christian movie might exist to inspire, teach, and entertain. Some people look at Christian films purely as a form of wholesome and beneficial entertainment, and I can respect that. But missions movies are so much more. They are the direct expression of God’s handiwork on the front lines of the great commission.
The sheer impact of the eternal value that these stories can have is mind blowing. The essence of that impact needs to be felt in the films. Not talked about, felt. Every missions film should leave such an impact on the viewers that even those who do not know Christ will be altered by seeing the Creator’s heart played out before them.
3) They Can Document Without Being Documentaries
Missions movies should be true, factual, and accurate to real events. However they should not follow the dry narrated format that most people identify as a documentary, if at all possible. I would note that Christian Documentaries are not supposed to be boring anyway!
Missions movies can be dramatic, firsthand accounts, narrated stories, recreated scenes, whatever is necessary to express the story. Keep in mind you never want to trick people into thinking an actor is the real person or a re-creation is the actual event but as long as you are transparent you can use whatever means are appropriate to tell the story. Image courtesy of Sura Nualpradid / FreeDigitalPhotos.net.
I am amazed when I think about the grand scale of what missions movies can mean. As if preaching the gospel wasn’t impacting enough, telling the story of how the gospel was preached can change just as many lives. There is just something about God, when people learn about what He has already done, they are changed forever. Because when He did it, it was an expression of His heart. And since His heart doesn’t change, when we hear about something He did, it is as if we are looking right into His love and purposes today.
Whether you are looking at a three minute video or a feature length film, missions movies have the power to transport us across time and distance to see into the throne room as if God were unfolding His master plan right in front of us.
In His Service
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