Joseph & Stacie's Blog notes from the journey & pictures of Peter & Eric

Filmmaking: Business or Ministry Part I

by Joseph Graber

I am an independent Christian filmmaker and I have faced the question, is filmmaking a business or is it ministry?

Selling the Gospel?

I was at a conference where we were screening our film Indescribable.  A lady came to our table and explained that they weren’t able to attend the screening but they were curious about the content of the film, did we talk about Jesus and the Gospel?  I explained to her all the ways we talked about the Gospel in the film, ensuring her that our heart was to make films with strong Christian messages.  She selected several DVDs and said, “I would like these.”  I told her how much they would cost and asked her how she would like to pay.  She slowly and deliberately paid for the DVDs.  I thanked her as she left.

A few minutes later she came back to the table and drew me aside.  “I feel like I need to speak to you about something.  The sign says ‘Christian films.’ You really need to reconsider what you are doing.”  My face registered surprise or confusion.  She pointed at our DVDs and continued, “I do not think you should be selling the Gospel for a price. Think about it!” Then she was gone again.

“My kids don’t watch Christian movies.”

I was sitting in a nice coffee shop visiting with a Christian businessman.  He explained that at his house he had several cabinets of movies for his children, but the one with Christian movies was almost never touched.  “My kids don’t watch Christian movies,” he said, “and I don’t blame them.”

As an independent Christian filmmaker it hurts a little when people point out Christian movies and talk about how they don’t measure up to secular films.  But I understand what they’re saying.  We don’t always make the best films.


Filmmaking: Business or Ministry?

Scenarios like those mentioned above raise a lot of questions for me.  Is there something wrong with expecting to feed your family from your work in film?  Recently, there has been a lot of discussion about the profitability and the future of independent Christian filmmaking within our own ranks.  We’ve been discussing whether it is alright to ask people to work for free on your project because it ‘has a good message’.  Questions and solutions have been raised on how to ‘raise the bar’ and ‘take our films to the next level’.

I am glad we are talking about these things.  I don’t think we will find answers easily or quickly.  But I believe there is great value in Christian filmmaking and I want to be involved in this industry for a long time to come.

In the video below I introduce a series that I will be sharing here.  A series of conversations about various aspects of our industry.  My hope is to encourage my fellow filmmakers and perhaps play some small part in finding direction for our future in independent Christian filmmaking.

Be on the lookout for Part II in this series!

4 Responses to Filmmaking: Business or Ministry Part I

  1. Suzanne Smith says:

    Do we want to make Christian films or do we want to make films that the Lord has, during our prayer time instructed to make for His purpose and glory? We have to remember Christianity is a religion and while on Earth Jesus showed often He did not like religion or religious people, though He did love them. All religions create boxes. The God of the Bible rarely does anything the same way twice. He might want us to do a documentary, then a commercial, then a Short then a Feature or youtube series. He is our God, the Word is our foundation. His parables rarely mention the word “God” in them, if ever. By sticking only to making Christian films, we are putting Him in a box called “religion.”

    • Joseph Graber says:

      Thanks for sharing Suzanne. Along with looking to God for instruction I believe it is important to understand the messages God has already built into our lives. Not everyone can tell every story. There is an authority that people have for telling certain stories, an authenticity that comes through because they have experienced something and received the grace to live it. This is perhaps a basic storytelling truth, but Christians who are in this industry need to consider it.

  2. David Devine says:


    Already shared it with a friend.


  3. Pingback: Filmmaking: Business or Ministry Part II - Joseph & Stacie's Blog

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