Wednesday, April 24, 2013

God flipped my script.

(As seen on Fuller Seminary's Website)

In high school and college, my life was all about acting! But when I started following Christ, I wasn’t sure I could be a Christian and a performing artist. How could they co-exist? I assumed theatre wasn’t the best place to be a Christian, “those thespians” were bad influences, and Shakespeare was a little too racy for Jesus.

I was encouraged my skills would be best used for church skits and youth group. So, I spent my time dancing in a Technicolor dream coat, choreographing hand motions to Steven Curtis Chapman, and casting out demons, in mime. 

And, truthfully I enjoyed it. (I was even convinced seeing any movie that wasn’t PG-13, or under, was sinful).
After college I entered full time ministry. And the story flipped.

God reignited my artistic passions and stretched them beyond what I thought was Biblically “legal.” Someone in my church hooked me up with a talent agent, which I was sure was grounds for burning at the stake.

Then, I stumbled upon Fuller and found myself in classes like, “Theology and Film,” and “Evangelism and Pop Culture.” Somebody pinch me. You’re telling me in order to get my Master’s degree, my classes require me to watch rated R movies and go to the Sundance Film Festival? What will the church ladies say?
God’s kingdom was a lot bigger than I had thought.

I realized my early days were preparation for my ministry calling. Now, I’m a pastor, AND an actor and filmmaker.

I serve in Peninsula Covenant Church to equip our congregation. I get to create media, (and my characters aren’t always required to sport sandals, a tunic or a beard), and offer opportunities for people to engage meaningfully with truth through discussions and experiences on our campus and in the community. We set up film screenings to dialog with filmmakers (and the Church ladies bake cookies). 

We’re launching arts programs in schools and we’re discovering God’s kingdom everywhere, not just in our building on Sundays. And I’m encouraging our church to hang out with those “crazy artist people,” AND also to become one. For we have a lot to learn from both the artists and the art they create.

Fuller’s emphasis on Theology and the Arts energized my creativity and affirmed my life’s purpose. It was perfect timing and amazing training. And Fuller also connected me to the
BayArea Windrider Film Forum: “Cinema in Conversation.” 

This is a mini Sundance Film Fest, right here in Menlo Park!  This year it will be on  June 27th, 28th, and 29th
We’ll be watching films and exploring life issues with the people who create the stories that move us. And we’ll be challenged to think deeply and take action at Menlo Atherton Performing Arts Center (MAPAC).
 Invite your friends, especially the ones who’d never go to a Sunday service. Because they just might encounter God in a movie theater. I do all the time.  
 Join the conversation.


Jodi Beach said...


Jodi Beach said...

Great words, Tony! Wonderful to read & see the love you have for The Lord and the impact you are having for His kingdom!